Posted on 29 June 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Sports, Mix

I missed last week’s post due to a temporary Hearthstone addiction, so here’s a doubleheader for you. These episodes stepped away from the show’s recent focus on romance and character building, opting to broaden the cast in preparation for the East Tokyo summer tournament. Episode 13 actually covers the opening innings of Meisei’s first game, and I have to acknowledge some disappointment at the return to the baseball diamond. It’s a sweet sort of disappointment, though, as I’d been afraid near the start of the series that sports would be the show’s greatest strength. Knowing that the characters are carrying things can propel me through some of the less impressive baseball scenes, which are plagued by static shots and oppressive lighting. Mix’s visual limitations become even clearer when you realize that it refuses to depict characters running the basepaths, cutting directly to the moments when they’re called out by the base umps. Cross Game wasn’t much of a looker either, if I recall – guess I’ve become more critical since then.

The rest of these two episodes make up for the show’s so-so presentation, though. The Tachibana brothers (or Tachibros, as I’ve taken to calling them in my notes) were in fine form for both installments, particularly Souichiro, who’s becoming one of my favorite characters despite the show’s clear Touma bias. His secret desire to pitch may be temporarily squashed as we enter sports anime mode, but the show’s commitment to the story is clear at this point. Coach Goro directly encourages him to pursue the position in episode 12, but Sou is convinced that his brother wouldn’t lose the ace spot so easily. His previous observation that Touma’s ability was buoyed by his own skill as a catcher speaks to his confidence, but that’s one challenge he’s not ready to face yet. Still, he’ll challenge Touma to rock-paper-scissors to use the bath, then offer him the spot without even looking at the result; he’s not above pushing his brother’s buttons regarding their RPS history. The brothers’ reaction to Haruka’s scouting report in the following episode was also quite entertaining. One couldn’t be bothered to read the hefty document, while the other instantly memorized it and used the opportunity to flirt. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which was which.

“Lightly” was most notable for its focus on Meisei High’s past. We finally got the story of Sou and Otomi’s father, the man who took up the mantle of starting pitcher after the school’s miracle run 30 years ago. Though his career was cut short by injury, I can’t say I felt much for the guy, as I’d rather follow the story developing in the current day. It was nice that Otomi got to talk about her dad with a classmate’s mother for a bit, though, especially in the wake of her regret from two weeks ago. As for the story developing in the here and now, much of it centers on Tomohito Akai, power hitter for Kenjo High and older brother to Ryou (the heartthrob of Otomi’s ninth grade class). Tomohito has a massive chip on his shoulder, shooting down Arisa’s attempt to give flowers to his brother and criticizing him for taking too long to deliver a package to Kenjo’s campus during after school practice. It’s Touma who steps in during his terrible treatment of Arisa, setting up their rivalry both on and off the field, but I’m more interested in Ryou’s side of things here. There’s a scene between him and Otomi where she broaches the subject of their difficult relationship, but his reluctance to respond informs us that there’s a bigger story there. I’m looking forward to learning the details of that story in the coming weeks.

Posted on with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

I will admit, this episode of Serial Experiments Lain was difficult to get through. This week we learn about History, both of our and Lain’s world, and get more information on the Knights. So lets just jump into it!

Starting off, this episode felt… weird. I don’t want to say it was a waste, as it introduced the series endgame with Masami. But it feels like beyond that, not much happened. Like a lot of exposition and additional information got thrown at us solely to setup the ending of said episode. That isn’t to say there wasn’t some progress, I think Lain demonstrated Lain’s deteriorating mental state well. With her difference in personality when dealing with Taro, or the Alien who came into her room. It’s making a very clear point that Lain feels isolated from society now. Just like she was, if not more so, at the start of the series. It’s just the conspiracy stuff surrounding that which I felt really broke up the episode for me.

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Posted on 26 June 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Dororo, Finished Series: Slice of Life/Drama, Reviews by Lenlo

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo takes the viewer back to a time before tropes were commonplace. Predating Berserk by almost 20 years, with many of the same themes. A story much darker than what fit’s is original art style and time period, it truly is a series out of time. But how does this story, canceled after only 4 volumes with largely anime original content, fare in the modern anime sphere? Well, let’s dive in and find out. As always, spoilers after this point.

Let’s go!

(Disclaimer: I am working to make 50 the new “average”. 70 is not an average score people. 70 is above average. Carry on.)

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Posted on with categories: One Punch Man S2

I don’t understand it JC Staff. You make it so difficult for me to like you and by extension, OPM. I want to of course, every week there are these flashes of brilliance. These moments where I think “they understand. They care. They can do it”. And then in the very same episode, you manage to ruin it, in every aspect of production. This week you managed to impress me in so many ways, and then instantly destroy it a few minutes later. For instance, you manage to add your own spin on some scenes that were basic panels in the manga, like the above. Yet earlier in the same episode, say the tree branches pull of Garou for example, you manage to lessen it. Switching up the camera angle so there is less to animate. Weakening the scene. Long story short. you just leave me confused JC Staff.

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Posted on 25 June 2019 with categories: Dororo

Welcome one and all to the Dororo finale! It’s a difficult one, as parts of it are fantastic, while others just leave me confused. But all in all, I think I enjoyed it, and I definitely don’t regret my time with the series. So, all that said, let’s dive in.

Starting off, I think Dororo visually ended on a high note. There were definitely issues of course, it wouldn’t be Dororo without some. For example, in a lot of the wide shots, the fire just looked pasted on in Aftereffects. It wasn’t even from the same show, it didn’t feel real. A lot more care was seemingly put into the closeup shots around Hyakkimaru and Tahomaru, as that looks much better. Or perhaps its just sheer volume that makes it seem less out of place. Regardless, what this means is that just like last week, the brothers were the visual high point of the episode. Dancing around the scene, fighting and conversing. There was a lot to like here, both in terms of symbolism and just straight up fight animation. As far as the actual ending though… I am conflicted, and let me tell you why.

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Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Fruits Basket (2019)

More than any other episode, this week is where Fruits Basket embraces its two opposing spectrums the clearest: it’s reverse-harem hijinks of highschool life and romance and its dark drama about the Zodiac members. By that light, we can be able to see this adaptation’s quality by this episode alone. For example, this 2019 is at its low point when it comes to comedy. With this kind of over-the-top humor the visual presentation (and editing) have to be snappy enough, Fruits Basket the 2019 instead relies static shots. The 2001 version benefits neatly from Akitaro Daichi’s direction (disclaimer: this writer hasn’t actually watched the original Fruits Basket, but he watched Fruits Basket’s cousin Kamisama Hajimemashita directed by the same director), and this current adaptation just doesn’t have the comedic chops to pull off. The result is that all the hijinks of new Zodiac members joining school, and the Student Council members, fall right flat on the floor.

The drama bit works much better in comparison, though. This week we have a proper introduction of Akito, the head of the Souma family and the antagonist of this show if it ever has one. The most interesting bit isn’t the fact that he meets Tohru face-to-face (in which the show smartly underplays it), but his power towards Yuki that makes Yuki trembling with fear. As we learn from the flashback, he had been mentally abused Yuki to the point of submission, and that he always considers Yuki to be his. There’s some nice conflicts for sure that would be a seed for Fruits Basket overarching act, between the dark, toxic force from Akito and the bright, attentive side from Tohru. In fact, Fruits Basket’s writing strength has always been exploring the gap between what on the surface (mostly the Zodiac’s characters), and their hidden feelings and personality behind that mask.

That is to say I expect a hidden, more vulnerable side of this Akito guy as well. It’s obvious from this week that he brings fears, as well as hatred, to many members of the Zodiac, but he too is suffered greatly. For Tohru, she might be simple and forward, but her determination contrasts nicely to the dark force of Akito. Hence, the best moment of this episode is when Tohru instinctively pushes Akito away from Yuki, because she knows that Akito is hurting Yuki. It’s a nice clash between two extremes, and I can’t wait to see more of this conflict. Just remember Fruits Basket, tone down the over-the-top comedy.

Posted on with categories: Carole & Tuesday, Currently Watching:

Even with Carole & Tuesday standard, this episode is a letdown with many forced developments to move this predictable story forward. These include 1) Tuesday injures her hand but still manage to perform and win the bracket 2) just right at the moment Tuesday said no one in the family care for her, she gets “kidnapped” by her Mother 3) all the subplots about finding the letter bomber, like come on, we all know from day 1 it was Cybelle. Add to the disappointment, I was expecting Ertergun commenting on Carole & Tuesday performance, which I initially thought will be a decisive factor for the duo’s win. Turns out we just have a brief glance at his comment, not about the performance itself, but about the professional attitude. Alrightttt. Is it just me who isn’t sold about Catherine’s argument when she decides the winner? The song’s lyrics seems to be about Tuesday’s own situation, but hey it doesn’t really connect to the “nervousness” theme that Catherine was talking about; and if she meant by the nervousness from their performance, then I’d argue that they would just accept all the performers with stage-fright as “perfectly captures the nervousness” themselves.

I might sound harsh on this, but it’s also true that Carole & Tuesday has failed to give a proper resolve to many conflicts it raised. The worst aspect is that this injury seems to be one-off, given Tuesday can be able to perform in the upcoming week. One factor I do enjoy in the episode, is that Angela immediately suspects Mama and her manager as the ones behind the scene. Well, the latter feels a bit half-baked but I was enjoying the bit when she confronts her Mama and it turns out that they were referring to different things. It serves as a vessel for Angela to rethink about the people supporting her, especially about the hapless young manager. At the same time, there’s some neat point of representing Cybelle thread as it’s a waking call for Tuesday that she needs to voice her opinions more, and that relationships in general can take a dark turn at any time. But the manner Carole & Tuesday depicts is somewhat underwhelming. It’s too quickly for one thing that doesn’t seem to leave a lasting impact, and it’s clumsy for the other as the show gives some obvious red-herrings before that.

Finally, we have some moments where Carole & Tuesday alone to reflect these things together. The show would benefit much better if they can cut down all these unnecessary subplots in order for the duo’s tender moments like this. Tuesday gives some sad reflection about the place she called home, but again all these quiet moments are sabotaged by the obvious kidnap that is meant to raise the stakes again. Carole & Tuesday writing has always been generic and too accessible, but with this episode it goes a step lower by forcing the plot instead of properly developing it. As a result, it often feels like the titular characters get swept away by random events and they have no real personality at all.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Sarazanmai

I must admit that days after watching this finale I still can’t wrap my head around all the events happened in this episode. Sarazanmai ends in a happy tone, something I didn’t expect from Ikuhara to be honest. On the most surface level, it’s a rescue mission from Kazuki and Enta to bring Toi back. Toi has lost all the hope after the death of his brother, and with the influence of Otter, ha’s about to erase his own existence from this life. This finale saves much of its budget in the first half (hey, I have no complain. It’s an artistic choice) by recycling all the events happened before with Toi’s slowly spirited away. Before this finale, I was thinking Sarazanmai would delve into physical desire vs love conflict, but turns out it’s more about existential crisis, about the desire to live in order to make connection, knowing that it will hurt. That might sound abstract but hey, even the Otter mutters that he is a concept (I have a good laugh here because it could apply to all of Ikuhara’s works). This time we have a musical number playing in full, prince Keppi resolves his own issues by literally embracing his dark self, Reo and Mabu come back like a light, and the trio taking shirikodama out of butt for the last time.

If we split this finale in half, there are some interesting parallels interplay between these two. Just as the first half concerns with flashbacks, the latter half brings us to its flash-forwards about possible futures of the trio. These flashforward images aren’t the happy ending though, as we see either they have to face the harsh truth (Toi is in the youth detention for his actions), the disappointment (Enta still can’t express his love) and the pain as well (Kazuki breaks his leg that caused him not to play football again). Keppi sums it nicely with “Hope and despair are both one with life.” Also metaphorically, the two halves have the motifs of these boys diving down the water. The early half is when they face the circle of connection, and the second half is when Toi jumps off the bridge and meets the others there. Well, I said “metaphorical” because it otherwise makes no literal sense to me why Toi jumps.

As a whole, even with me as a hard Ikuhara fan, Sarazaimai’s events sure are hard to pin down and make sense of it all. I enjoy the ending well enough as I think it does wrap up the story nicely, and for me Sarazanmai is a tad bit better than Ikuhara’s previous YuriKuma. I will give this show a rewatch once the year ends to see if the story holds up by then, and this is a kind of show that requires multiple viewings (and reading, too), but as far as this first watch goes I’d safely say that Sarazanmai once again proves Ikuhara as one of the most original anime directors in our lifetime. Full review will come shortly.

Posted on 24 June 2019 with categories: About, Random Posts

Target acquired, lock, engage. Joining my brothers in arms, it’s your girl, Armitage! :D

Hey, everyone!! After days of brawling and bloodshed, I have finally emerged as a joint victor of the Battle Royale for the coveted position of ‘New Blogger’. I am grateful to the brave fallen and look forward to making acquaintance with the living, here at Star-Crossed Fleet.

I am in my final year at Uni but I have decided to instead follow my passion for stories. I will be pursuing my dream to be a novelist, you see. Ever since I was a little child, I have loved fictional characters and the incredible lives they lead. And anime was one of the first mediums to make me feel that way. Hence, I have decided to give blogging a shot.

Some of my favorites include: Hunter x Hunter 2011, Honey & Clover, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and 3-gatsu no Lion. I look forward to talking about seasonal anime and more with you all and vow to fight to death, defending my shit taste over yours! :P

Thanks for having me!! <3

 

Posted on with categories: About, Random Posts

Hello! Call me Amun – good to meet ya!

The kind bloggers of this site have graciously allowed me to join their ranks. A bit about me – I’m a 30 year old Happa who is gainfully employed as a programmer/manager/pointy haired boss/whatever (you’re here for anime, not a resume).  As discord embarrassingly revealed to the other writers, I currently play League of Legends, though I was sufficiently addicted to WoW in the past (afl lock, yessir).

My anime instincts tend to wander towards shonen, with good characterization and world building as musts.  I’ve been watching anime now for about 15 years (I tend to be anime only with resorting to manga when there is no hope for future seasons *sniff*).   The show that got me hooked was Hikaru no Go, and I haven’t looked back since.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, so here’s a small banner for some of my top personal picks.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy my thoughts and if not…flame me until I get better!  (+1 for everyone who can name all anime shown in the banner…+2 if you caught the previous pun).

Let’s watch some anime together!

Star Crossed Anime Blog

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Featured Posts

Dr. STONE – 15/16 [The Culmination of Two Million Years/A Tale for the Ages]

This week of Dr.STONE is a double feature, courtesy of my inability to write! Here we cover the conclusion of the Grand Bout, finish the Cure-All and then dive into the history of Ishigami village. So without further ado, since we have a lot to cover this week, let’s dive in. Starting off, first an […]

Beastars – 02

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Hoshiai no Sora – 02

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Legend of the Galactic Heroes Die Neue These – 13-16

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Fire Force 12 – Eve of Hostilities in Asakusa

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Vinland Saga – 14 [The Light of Dawn]

This is a big week for Vinland. One of the best episodes, not just of the season, but the year for me. So many things just came together to really nail it. As this week Askeladd makes us question who we are rooting for, and really throws the brutality of war in our face. Let’s […]

Mononoke – 10 [Goblin Cat, Part 1] – Throwback Thursday

Hello all, apologies for the delay, and welcome to the final arc of Mononoke! This is perhaps the most unique one yet. As we skip forward to a modern era, set the entire thing in a single location, and have ourselves a murder mystery. So, lets dive in! Right off the bat, as always, I […]

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In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]