Posted on 31 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Anime Reviews

Imagine my utmost amazement when a show that I wasn’t that confident on taking in the beginning turned out to be one of the most solid offering this season had to offer. ACCA is the most recent anime adaptation from mangaka Natsume Omo, which despite isn’t a household name, many of her works (6 titles of them) have been translated to English, a privilege that rarely seen among this industry. Watching ACCA though, it’s easy to see her appeals: attractive and recognizable character designs, detailed world settings, complex yet laid-back themes and featuring characters that always in the move. ACCA embodies all those traits with slow but confident pacing that have an ending that perfectly tied up all the plot threads- for me one of the best ending I have seen in years. ACCA isn’t perfect by any mean, after all, adapting full 6 volumes into one cour of 12 episodes mean that they have to cut LOTS of extra details. Although I would’ve preferred more if the show has more time to focus on these 13 Districts and their ACCA’s representatives, the mere fact that they manage to make the plot points flows seamlessly, while still engage (or rather, enhance) viewers’ interest by each passing episode isn’t an easy feat at all; so a special shout out for Madhouse for this wonderful adaptation.

At first, what really makes ACCA compelling to watch is its rich world setting; as the show’s diverse settings is one of its identity itself. The 13 districts all have their own distinctive traits and are vastly different in wealth and their sub-cultures; which remind me a bit of the worlds in Kino’s Journeys. In fact, it’s too different from each other that the only thing that they all SHARE is its autonomy. I should remind you, the demand for putting background details for this show is insane, as they have to show the characteristics of all 13 districts in the little time they had without obstruct the pacing, but Studio Pablo (you might need to remember that name- They are an anime background company, the team who also handled the gorgeous visual backgrounds in Flip Flappers) did a marvelous job in putting as much details as possible from those districts. The two poorest districts were given more development than the rest with their own stories and struggles and as a whole, Dowa Kingdom is a place that I’m more than happy to spend more time to. The ACCA’s representative member in each district, likewise, all given just about enough personality to both inform us their own characters, and how the uniqueness in the district they work in starts to influent them. Regrettably, I still feel the show doesn’t have much screen time to flesh out those ACCA members but that is the sacrifice I’m willing to take…

… Because ACCA is masterclass at its storytelling and pacing. Even now when I’m looking back at the series, I don’t see any wasted segments, any meaningless conversations or any useless developments. Everything the show puts in, they are there for a reason, either to advance the plot, or to flesh out the characters, or give the show more identity. All the plot developments were hinted subtly way ahead, so when the BIG ANOUNCEMENTS take place, we don’t feel like them pulling the rug under our feet, but instead we’re well prepared to take such twists in. Secondly, all the character’s usual habits like Jean’s constantly smoking, Nino taking pictures, or Lotta eating cakes all the times not only tell us their personality, but also those details suggest a deeper plot meaning (see the relevance of cigarettes here? Or the reason why Nino taking pictures all the time?). Moreover, for a show that mainly about the scheming, plan within a plan within a plan about the coup, there are surprising overloaded with breads, cakes and deserts. Characters in this show fall in love with breads, buying cakes when scheming about a plan, making friends through the love of toasts (which ultimately saved Lotta’s life), and to be fair, the love of bread is what give birth to Jean and Lotta to begin with (guess where their Mom met their father? A bakery of course), but strangely, those moments of cake-porn never feel out of place in this ACCA world. For me personally, cakes and toasts will be what I miss the most about this show. And then the pacing. While many would argue the ACCA is snail-moving slow, and they’re mostly right, this is one of the most confident pacing that I’ve seen this season. It’s slow, but it never drags. It’s slow, but it keeps getting more intense as it goes on; steadily to its final showdown.

Another attribute; however, that really sets ACCA well apart from other political thrillers, or any thrillers in that extend; lies in its almost non-existence of violence and dark intentions. ACCA is an idealistic show; characters in ACCA think and behave for the benefit of the kingdom, where sacrifice of individuals can be necessary to keep peace for the nation (That make the backstory of princess Schnee even more tragic). Even the show’s main villain’s thrust to destroy the throne wouldn’t necessary qualified as evil either; after all, all he wanted is the “rightful” power and control for his own district, one of the richest and most influential district. If shows like Berserk or Death Parade keeps addressing the dark and ugliness of human’s nature, show like ACCA is the opposite. It’s almost too bright, too optimistic about human, which is be no mean these characters aren’t complex. The characters are plotting plans within plans, and sometimes their actions are already manipulated by other’s, but more or less their objectives always aim for the better of the people, with little to no gain for themselves. While personally I don’t have much of an issue with it, I do feel portraying the world that devoid of violence or ill-will might split the audience on being unrealistic, and that ending where too much of good things happened (look, Pranetta hits gold) could turn some viewers off for being over-cheerfulness.

Madhouse’s execution to this series is overall top-notch. The use of strong color pallete, for example, gives the show so much texture and more impressively, they fit in with the tones so well that those color palletes don’t stick out like sore thumb. Episode 8, for example, detailing the one big flashback of princess Schnee through Nino and his father’s eyes is textbook example on how to use those colors the most effective. The music, likewise, is really on point most of the time and the shot compositions have great flairs, cinematic, and sometimes they convey the mood and tension just by showing one character’s position to another (like when Mauve informed Jean about his royal heritage) or putting the characters in the soft, blurred background (most prominently through the climax of the last episode). In one word, exceptional. But there is one minor issue, though. For a show that have high caliber of crafting like ACCA, the animation, the actual motions, is lacking. Characters stay at static positions most of the time, and even their expressions don’t change much. Which for me is fair, because ACCA has always been about the calm, about what beneath the surface so it’s only appropriate that we don’t get to see much actions on the surface, both in term of actual movement, or the plot itself.

ACCA also is extremely well-grounded in terms of underlining characters’ chemistry. Although I would argue that those characters don’t change/grow much in terms of character’s development (see, in the end, Jean is still the same guy we saw at the beginning, so is Lotta, or… gasp, Owl), but the show delivers such natural chemistry between the cast, especially the trio Jean – Nino – Lotta that it’s such a nice time to see them hanging around together. Each of the pair give off a different chemistry to boost, and they always feel so effortlessly to each other that when Jean and Lotta find out the truth about Nino, it’s bitter and sweet at the same time. For a show that is more about the detachment (everything flows underneath the surface), they understand that the underlying emotions of the show is the buddy relationship between Nino and Jean (and well, Schnee’s tragic past) so rightfully ACCA gives their final moments on those two as a sweet farewell to us.

But like I mentioned earlier, ACCA is not without its issues. One of it is that the show has to compress its source material to only 12 episodes, as a result in the last third of the show the sweet cakes and deserts just evaporated (but I can understand, we wouldn’t take the coup seriously with all those cakes and breads so they have to go), and like I said, more time to flesh out the uniqueness of each districts and their ACCA representatives would benefit the show greater. Secondly, by giving much attentions to the royal and the members in power, we don’t get to see the Dowa Kingdom in ordinary citizen’s point of view. I mean, we hardly know anything about Jean and Lotta’s father, a commoner, for example. Moreover, being slow and static and diplomatic-centric also means that when the show has to raise up its tempo; most notably during the Lotta assassination; they are clumsy in both storytelling and execution to the point of near-ridiculousness. And lastly, show with this deliberate pacing won’t attract much of the mainstream audience, in which if that is the case, the only think I can say is that they have missed out one of the best well written gem this year had to provide and trust me, this show will hold up well with time. I will definitely check out more of Natsume Omo’s works.

Posted on 29 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

Boy, what an impressing ending to this great show. In a way, I should’ve thought about that, keeping in tradition which what ACCA has been established so far: a coup d’état without any chaos, or violence; an actual coup d’etat but not aiming to exclude the Prince and the royal, but to Furawau district. The coup that was just… too polite, like it was the calm during the storm itself, but it swept all my concerns for a conclusion that tied up ALL the loose ends. First, it’s none other than Qualms who leaked about the royal blood rumors (this guy’s impressive!), but the main players in this game are none other than Jean and Mauve. Jean apparently learned about Lilium’s plan from Mauve back when she informed him about his royal heritage (don’t underestimate the power of the opening sequence, when she literally whispered to his ear), then it was Jean who proposed a counterplan that run right beneath Lilium’s evil plan. All the districts want the continuation of ACCA, Lilium wants the power into his Furawau’s district. Mauve takes up the stage and delivers a kick-ass speech, in which not only “forced” the Prince to accept the continued existence of ACCA, but also negated Lilium’s own plan. He left the game, as did his district from the Dowa kingdom. Jean settled the game without having to step in for the throne and his identity is kept secret from the public. I can’t possibly think of any better way to resolve it as satisfying as we have here.

After that, everything else falls on positive notes (if a bit overly so), the Prince turns out to be much nicer than everyone thought. The 5-heads dragon, now with Lilium gone, decides to disband, each of them (save Grossular) returns back to their district to become a chief district and seem to be much happier with it. Mauve becomes the leader of ACCA (so deserving), and while it’s a bit sad that Mauve and Jean don’t become a couple, I believe they’re better off that way. The two poorest districts are now growing to be much better (I can see that the author really care about those two districts), with Pranetta hits gold and become a new “American Dream” – or should I say, “new Furawau Dream”; Suitsu opens its borders and now citizens can vote freely. Lotta has a whole lotta more opportunity to meet her new cousin and beloved grandpa and eat cakes and breads. Abend is indeed, Owl, and this guy was the one who pulled the strings from behind so that everything can fall according to this outcome. Like Nino said, an impressive feat.

Finally, Nino seems to be so relaxed and peaceful. I think all of his load was taken off from his talk with Jean last episode, now he’s truly free to do what he wants. I was actually smiling when he stands behind Lotta in that crucial moments to protect her. He can’t change, huh? Kudos for the show to focus squarely on Jean and Nino’s relationship in ACCA’s final moments. In the end, no matter what happen, they will always stay beside and trust each other. I’m in particular impressed again with the use of jazzy music during the coup scene and the use of strong color pallete everywhere in this episode. This episode indeed ends the show in a high note, and I’m sure this show will hold up very well, and rewatching it to pick up all the subtle details would be very rewarding. In retrospect, people might complain about its slow and deliberate pacing, but for me this is one of the most confident and well-balance pacing that I’ve seen in recent years. Every detail they put in counts and I don’t really see any unnecessary fat so far. I really have a blast blogging this one, and believe it or not ACCA becomes one of my favorite titles this season (not a slight judgement with a season that has Rakugo, Little Witch Academia, and Hand Shakers… I kid, I kid). Well, full review will be up soon, all I can say is I am satisfied with the whole experience. Well done ACCA.

Posted on 22 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

Really ACCA? Only one episode left and you’re still in set-up stage, with the coup is lingering in the air, but never comes in real form. In fact, ACCA is a series about setting up. Its deliberate pacing can really test the viewer’s’ patience, and I totally understand if most of you have fallen out with it; but really, ACCA’s getting better by each passing episode. Many plot threads start to come together, and this week we have a major plot development: Jean decided to go along with the Lilium’s plan, which is the worst decision ever. Lilium, in a very definition of true villain archetype, already behaves in a victory-mode for a successful coup, although there isn’t any coup yet (sorry honey, I have to see it first to know if it exists) and starts mapping out his evil plan OUT LOUD for the one person who is capable of changing the situation. I guess this is more of overconfident issue but boy, when you do that I know immediately that the plan is going to fail, hard. And does he really think he can control and manipulate Jean, of all people? Bull. I don’t even think Jean will take the reign. Heck, I don’t even think the coup is going to happen at all. But I do think he plans to put certain someone to the spot instead of himself. He raises that argument when he meets up with Lilium, saying that as long as the next throne isn’t the Prince, he doesn’t really interested to take control the kingdom. So logically, who is the person that Jean would place his bet on knowing that the person can take good care for both ACCA, the people and the kingdom? Of course, it’s Grossular.

But Grossular still has some issues with Lilium. I still wonder why Lilium holds much control over Grossular. I still think Lilium holds a certain secret that Grossular doesn’t want to spread out, but what secret would that be? How is this centenary going to play out next week? I originally thought Qualms the Privy Council President is involved, but based on how limited time he had (if at all), I think the main players for this centenary is going to be Jean, Lilium and the Prince. But then, how’s about Abend? Will he has any role at all in the end? Damn ACCA, you better tie up all loose ends next week.

Nino is finally back and is immediately got shot down, literally. But this is where I find the plot pretty much implausible, for you see it would be much easier (and less dramatic) to just follow those assassins and knock them down before they were going to shoot. Why following them and then run all the way to Jean to shield the bullets? And really, the way the show handles the thriller part is very uneven. Apart from that, I really enjoyed the chemistry between Jean and Nino and I could feel Jean’s emotion stirring up when he talks about Nino’s objective in life. He deeply cares for his friend Nino. Another interesting fact is that Nino’s supervisor doesn’t allow Nino to come to Furawau, and for now my guess is that the supervisor doesn’t want Nino to pry into Lilium’s family, maybe for the sake of Jean and Lotte’s safety. (or just simply because he doesn’t want Nino to catch hay fever. A nasty sickness).

It’s otherwise great to see all the ACC representatives from each district come all over in one place. We saw all of them but many of them don’t have much screentime or that memorable before, but you can sense a very natural easy-going chemistry between them (they obviously know each other well before) and how they can still carry the characteristics of the district they’re currently in. I don’t get why the show spend so much time for Eider’s romance but it’s certainly fun to watch. One thing I find the most interesting was the two ACCA representatives from 2 poorest districts, Warbler and Rocksterra (from Suitsu and Pranetta, respectively) are the ones who actually sense something wrong about following up the coup. They come from the poorest and hardest districts, meaning that they, of all people, should be happy for a wind of change. But quite the contrary, they know that each district has their own voices, and they see far greater benefits under the Dowa Kingdom; even the Prince will be unlikely to break much rules, and those are all valid arguments but they must be very dissatisfied with the Prince (or current Royal system) to the extent that all the 13 districts vote for Jean. Jean did mention that everything need a final push now, what would that be? With only a finale of 20 minutes left and plenty of possibilities next week, I really hope the show can wrap things up in a most satisfying way. You won’t disappoint me, will you, ACCA?

Posted on 15 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

So suddenly, the King gets serious health issues huh? I’m sure Qualms has something to do with it too. But now I do feel the storm’s coming right in front of me (no, not that sandstorm), as many important events keep piling up: the last audition of Jean in Furawau (flower) district, which “happened” to be the homebase of Lilium, our current biggest threats. Now I can see that Lilium is a sneaky guy, using home advantage to pursue Jean to lead the coup. His whole ground for starting the coup is for the unity and order of the kingdom, but this episode slips it up that he might not think that way at all. He wants his district Furawau, and his family in charge of course, getting the power, possibly become a new capital city. Well, with the glimpse on what we see from the district, they are wealthy, like a Dubai city with skyscraper and mosque-like buildings; so they’re more than capable of becoming one. Things fall according his plan as well, except for the two obvious obstacles:

First, it’s Grossular. As we see throughout the episode, Lilium clearly controls and manipulates Grossular from behind, but I never once think Grossular is that stupid. He must knows what going on behind Lilium’s head, and if it wasn’t Lilium taking advantages of Grossular’s weakness like I assumed last week, Grossular would never fall into his scheme for just “unifying the nation”. I believe this guy still has something up his sleeves, but for some reasons he’s still waiting for Jean to make a move first. He’s pretty much in a stand-by mode for now. Muave, likewise, pretty much stands by his side because she trusts him (and to be frank, maintaining orders for the kingdom, plus her favorite Jean might take the throne are too good to refuse). They might play as an assistant role for Jean later on whenever he decides on which road he takes, only that…

…Jean still hasn’t make a goddamn move except for carrying his audits like usual. The later districts have been really opened about his royal blood and their opinions/ the cigarettes as well. Lithium might come from a wealthy district, but the last district that Jean visited in his current round, Pranetta (Planet) is the totally opposite and for my money this is one of the most interesting district that we have witnessed. The district is dirt poor, swallowed by a vast desert and holed themselves under the ground. The district remains with an extremely limited resource, without the sunlight for daily necessity and only have TV as the one entertainment source, an extreme opposite to casino-filled Yakkara last week (and I did notice based on the Dowa Kingdom map, Yakkara is located within Pranetta, interesting). But the residents there have a dream of mining, of one day finding something invaluable and they keep following the dream and being happy despite their harsh environment. They don’t care much about the coming coup, because they know it doesn’t make much different for them whoever take the throne (no wonder with that attitude, Jean feels himself really comfortable here). They simply don’t have anything to keep, or anything to even offer. That little scene between Jean and the branch chief, where the old man asks Jean’s cigar for a smoke, but then offers him the cigar back as an upvote really sums up the spirit of residents of Pranetta. Cigarettes are even something so luxury that out of their reach, but he trusts Jean (not the coup) to make a rightful decision.

And that is precisely why that perfect scheme of Lilium is going to be broken apart. Putting Jean as a mediator, a person who represents both ACCA and the rightful heir is a smart move. But by giving him time to explore every single districts, Jean gets to see the kingdom in multiple perspectives, from the riches to the poors, from the allies to the extremists, from what works and what fails and thus he no longer has the same outlooks with the men in power here, moreover he holds the key (his royal blood) to make it different, now it’s just the timing. For instance, Lilium would never get the appeal of Pranetta district. It might not be the class between ACCA and the royal, but the fight between the rich and the poor here.

And it’s freaking time now. The plot will get busy next week, now that the first princess second-attempts to murder Jean and Lotta, the King is dying; Jean visiting his final audit; the centennial ceremony is approaching and Nino still wanders somewhere, I know we will have a busy week with heaps of fun next week. Speaking of Nino, Lotta sure really fonds of him and the sequence when they’re talking about Nino and their “secret” feel so warm. But damn Nino, you missed your chance of becoming a prince Charming. Rejecting a princess even when she proposed to you? No wonder why he’s spirited away now.

ps: I’m tempted to spend some time to pick out the uniforms of each district, now that we encounter every single one of them. The show really knows how to scratch my itch. Diversity rules!

Posted on 8 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

We have another solid slow-burning episode this week, which is… Goddamnit ACCA, you just can’t do that at this late in the game, especially when the last two episodes had raised the stakes extremely well. This is the stage where the climax starts to kick in, but instead we still stuck in the building-up stage of Jean continuing to audit other districts and the coming coup is… well, still coming. It feels like you’re having a second course dish and then revert back to have an entree again. No, I’m not settled for only this. The main development of this episode is of course the (near) assassination of Lotta, which actually pull lots of supporting characters into the motion now, and all of them shine in their own ways. First, Prince Schwan proves everyone (including us) that he’s far more ruthless and calculated than us credit him for. He actually manipulated the first princess to send assassins to kill the siblings without touching his hands in any of this. Quite impressive I must say. But Magie, in even more-awesome move, decides to seek help from his sandwich bread buddy (further demonstrate that friends who share the same enthusiasm will go a long way, in this case, bread and blonde girl).

Rail, takes this rare chance to be with Lotta and acts like her bodyguard, which failed miserably. But never mind. Not only he’s able to share many heart-throbbing moments with Lotta (those moments to die for), but also now they share a secret together. Lotta, in the meantime, being wide eyes from the entirety of the chase and still wondering what the hell is going on (what big eyes she got), but when she hears the secret, she takes the news surprisingly well just like her brother (must run in their blood, huh?). I am completely taken aback by how incompetent bunch the assassins are, not only they spilled cheap “exposition”, which they have no right to know to begin with; they made the chase as obvious to the public eyes as ever; and moreover couldn’t do their goddamn job right. But this strange turn of events of Chief Owl suddenly appear to save Lotta a day further reaffirm my suspicion of him being Abend (like hell he just happened to run into that car). Put aside the practical fact that his age suited Abend’s actual age the most, his position as chief of ACCA allow him to be close enough to watch over Jean and Lotta, and his conditions that make him just stay in one place is so convenient for both him to stay within the shadow, and for Jean to go by himself to the districts for auditing. Now, he’s gotten more active roles into this story so it’s interesting to see if he’s truly the one pulling Nino from behind the scene.

And talking about pulling behind the scene, we got a twist that none of us see coming, which change the tides of the situation considerably. Yep, I’m talking about Grossular is being manipulated Lilium, which my guess for now it has to do with the train wreck that killed Jean’s parents. Before that though, Grossular put his cards on the table in his 5 ACCA chiefs meeting- he created the rumors, put Jean into the middle of it to see the reactions of each district towards the creating the coup and now deciding that it’s time for the freaking coup. Now we have an idea of the significance of the cigarettes Jean received from each district, it’s the unofficial “vote” to support Jean as the coup leader. But how much of what he said is true? The direction Lilium and Grossular want the others to head in is the battle between ACCA and the coming royal authority (after all the Prince make himself crystal clear to destroy ACCA as soon as he’s in charge). Those conflicts really put Jean into an interesting position now. He knows exactly the situation he’s currently in; but which ship will he be on and what decision will he make remain a fascinating question. Will he be a leader of the expected coup and take the reign? Will he put behind all the nonsense to do his own thing? Where will Mauve fit in in this big picture? One thing we know for sure though, no matter which road he make, it will be a game-changer.

On last notes, the two districts Jean visited this time are again brimming with personalities and unique details. The port district Peshi was also responsible for the train accidents along with Rokkosu, and it was the place where Jean’s mother “supposedly” drowned here. Looking at the second princess statue that look over the port, I can really feel the sadness from Jean now that he knows the story behind it all. Yakkara, the most healthy district, is Las Vegas-inspired with casino in sight and neon-lighting and night life. I still wish the show have some time to explore more about each district. But to rub salt into the wound, the show temporarily abandoned many of its better variations in service for the plot. I mean, where the hell are the hot breads and desserts this week? Where the heck is Nino? I know he goes hiding from Jean but that doesn’t mean he needs to go hiding from us too. All the events move up quite steady and the big picture starts to form now, but I am still a bit disappointed, especially after the extravaganza from the last two weeks I won’t settle for this slow burn anymore.

Posted on 1 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

Damn this show making me feel sad and melancholic all over again. When Nino told Jean last week that this is going to be a long story, I wouldn’t dare to think that he really means it. This week, the show takes us back 33 years ago and tells the story from royal observer’s point of view, resulted in the show’s most emotional resonate episode so far. This episode is just bittersweet and beautiful. Now, there are two things about ACCA writing that set it apart from other anime. The first aspect is its attention to details and confident storytelling, which I mentioned last week and psgels pretty much nailed it in his monthly review. The second aspect is… well, remember at first we initially thought ACCA might be similar to Ghost in the Shell in nature? Turned out we were completely off the mark because ACCA never at once goes heavy-handed. There’s a lot of backstaged planning, behind-the-scenes scheming but there’s no real dark intention in that world. Everyone’s actions so far have been for the benefit of the kingdom, even the coming coup arisen from the fear of the incompetence of the expected king. No selfish reasons whatsoever, at least not yet, just conflicted ideas on protecting the kingdom’s order I guess. The “accident” 33 years ago happened in that same vein. It was the scheme organized by Qualms (the head of Council Privy), the King, his daughter and her guard in order to protect the harmony of the royal and the kingdom and give Schnee the freedom she always desired. Everyone got out of it with what they think was necessary, even if it resulted in the second princess removed her name from the Dowa family register- become a commoner. That would be a fairly same-old same-old, cliche story if not by the fact that her life was chronologized secretly by the person who give up his own life to report her life, so in a sense, her family’s life has become the man’s; and his son’s, lives, and that hold lots of weight.

Nino, in particular, has been given a lot of weight-lifting this week but he shines through. When his father decided to follow his master’s quest, meaning that he had to give up his current life and his child for an unforeseeable future; he wanted to go with him no matter what. And Schnee and then the Otus family suddenly become their lives, but the father and Nino took pride and passion to their jobs. Every picture they took, every news regarding the princess they gathered, every bread the princess took interest to; they treasured them all. For Nino’s father, at least he had his own life before taking this job, but for Nino, it’s sad to realize that the life revolving the Otus family is the only life he knows. Makes me wonder what his purpose gonna be if Jean and Lotta were all gone. He took up the job pretty nicely too, attended college (despite huge age-gap) in order to stay closer to Jean. But then that train-wreck incident happened that not only took Jean’s parents lives, but his father’s as well. He then realized that he has been set up all along to be the next royal observant reporter in line. The best moment of his character development has to be after he received the news on TV, sadden by the the death of his father, bitter by the cold decision of the master, taken up the job he knows had no exit, he was still sensitive enough to offer a shoulder for Jean to rely on. This guy totally deserved a gold medal guys, he might become my favorite character of the show now.

So the main question the episode trying to raise is whether Abend is in fact Grossular. Looking at appearances, Grossular does share a lot of similarities with Abend, most notably his long hair and the fact that he isn’t Jean and Lotte’s father who died during the train wreck. Speaking of which, there is a minor twist that Schnee and Abend weren’t lover, which actually raise a compelling relationship between those two. It’s a duty for Abend to keep track with Schnee, but is there other feeling involved from Abend to the princess? For now though, I think Grossular is a red herring; yes all the details pointed towards him being Abend, but it makes no sense for me that Nino would report to him twice with different manners of speaking, and the show actually mentioned that everyone in that Rokkosu district having the same look regardless. In fact, I suspect that the real Abend is closer to Jean and Lotta than you might think, in fact I’m thinking of a certain character that the show keeps mentioning despite not appearing that much in the series, and he does eat a lot of desserts together with Lotta lately (Yes. You know who! Oh, and the child Lotta might be the sweetest thing ever). In any case, I strongly suspect that guy Abend to be the one who set Jean up for the upcoming coup d’etat (in other words, he’s important!), so the fun remains to see who this guy is and what exactly he plans to use Jean for the coup.

Lastly, allow me to give extra recognition to the impressive color palette in this episode, as it conveys effectively the mood of each sequence. In the sequence between the King and the young princess for example, the scene is bathed with light blue of sadness and longing. The sequences involved Abend, in contrast, was all in red/brown background of calculated plan and the strong sense of duty. Move over to the scenes involving young Nino and his father and we have a slightly washed-out color of memories that feel like an old picture. And lastly, when Nino received the devastated news on TV, it was dark blue with bold strokes and dark shading. The music, likewise, is totally impressive. Head ups for the sequence of Nino meeting Jean for the first time when an actual song kicked in. Even more stunningly, all the framing, the color and the music never distract the mood of the story or stand out too much, but fit the stories very, very well. This week, as a result, is the most impressive ACCA episode both in terms of technical quality, and emotional strengths. While the main storyline might focuses on the upcoming coup, the show’s main catch has always been establishing the ambiguous relationships between the cast. This backstory episode might not progress the plot very much, but it builds a solid foundation that exploring many intriguing relationships with confident executions. I said last week I was sure the show going to get better, right? Well, it does get better, but for reasons that completely against my expectation and for that I am really grateful. And boy how the show know how to pull an emotional punch, that piece of apple pie at the end (the apple pie that marked the sharp turn in Nino’s life) seriously melt my brain and make my head spinning around in circle. Damn this show making me feel sad and melancholic all over again.

Posted on 22 February 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

The plot sure thickens a lot after this episode. Well, last week I mentioned about the possible spoiler of ACCA plot, but the truth turns out that it didn’t really qualified as a spoiler at all. All the hints were there and viewers picked up pretty quickly (or just that I’m a slow picker, yare yare). All that just to say that I really admire ACCA’s storytelling; the way they don’t spoonfeed us with obvious details, but trust viewers to pick up hints and then move the plot forward. This week the show decides to drop that bomb out front: Jean is a royal blood and he’s the first line in succession. His mother was the second princess, but she eloped with a beautiful white hair guard some 33 years ago after the Titanic accident. The couple then had Jean and Lotta, living a normal happy life until that train accident that really took their life 13 years ago. Now it raises 2 questions. First, was the train accident really an accident? And second, how much does Grossular know? I would say 90% sure that he knew about Jean and Lotta’s true origin, but how much did he know about the real cause of the accident? And about this upcoming coup?

It’s not hard to pin down the real boss of Nino though. It’s pretty obvious that he set Jean up to that cake store so Jean could have some time with the King alone, so we can rule out that only the King or that Privy Council was his boss. And with that phone talk at the end I can pretty much say the King was the one assigned him to follow Jean. But is it that simple? I appreciate ACCA’s storytelling so far but this week, at episode 7, we still come up with new characters, namely the first princess/ Prince Schwann’s aunt. I know she’s a minor character but this actually gets me questioning: where the hell is Prince Schwann’s mother, the third princess? Seems like she gained the most after the disappearance of the second princess and it might be that she had some kind of role in that ship sank? How about monitoring Jean now through Nino? Is she going to appear in this story at all? Man, there is a lot of questions, but I do love that for the first time since forever Nino was shown in some kind of emotional state, having received praise from his “supervisor”. Well, just looked at him when he was in the cake shop, you can sense he was overwhelmed as well. And isn’t that rare that he admitted that he was too close to Jean as dear friend that his supervisor isn’t happy at all about that. Jean and Nino share such great chemistry together and the next time they talk gonna be a life-changer one.

But my favorite sequence was when Maude takes up the stage and take Jean by storms. She accurately figured out lots of things happening around Jean without his help, and despite Jean hiding things from her she still trusts him dearly. If they join forces together they would make a really dangerous pair. Still, I really love that deadpan matter-of-fact delivery of Mauve, and Jean’s cool detachment when hearing that he’s the first in line for the throne. Elsewhere, Prince Schwann proves to be much smarter than everyone assumed him to be, figuring out by himself the true identity of Lotta, and now aiming to gun Jean down. As of now, how many people actually know about Jean’s true identity? I can safely say right now there’s the King, Mauve, Nino, 90% Grossular and now the Prince and those I believe will be all main ace cards for the upcoming coup. But with the revelation, the current situation has changed considerably. The main questions are no more “Who setting up the coup?” or “When will the King die” (because as far as I see he’s freaking healthy) but “Who gonna be the next in throne and who would be benefited the most with the outcomes?” Now we have Jean and the Prince for the throne, with that Privy Council President as a dark horse (because he can still manipulate the King). Jean has been set up to be an intermediary so far, so it’s mean there’s still someone behind the curtain who know about his true identity and pull all the strings.

Finally, the two districts we visited this week: Dowa and Kokore, were full of interesting characteristics and tasty breads. Dowa is the capital city with that old-fashioned but elegant city designs, and Kokore is a feminist town that really resembles an European city. I love how they explore a bit of women’s aspect in that Kokore district, and really the strong influx of women’s roles in society at large is always a positive sign for me. The breads and cakes also are equally impressive. With Dowa we have that apple cake and snowball cake (man, looks so tempting) and Kokore has full of delicious chocolate. This is hands out the best episode of ACCA so far, as the plot moves in much tighter now, while simultaneously never betrays what makes the show so appealing and unique in the first place (I’m looking at you, hot breads and cakes); I expect the show getting better from now on, now that they‘re gearing up for the big final showdown.

Posted on 15 February 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

Now we’re clear why Lotte looked so worried last week upon hearing Jean was riding a train, turn out that their parents passed away due to train accident when they were young, 13 years ago. The meeting of Jean and Grossular is rather an unexpected exchange, as instead of questioning Grossular if he’s involved to the coup d’etat, Jean outright confirms that he believed Grossular isn’t. Grossular was the ACCA brand chief back when the rail accident happened and he further helped to reduce border conflict by taking full responsibility and then put “safety first” to the transportation system, resulted in steep decline in number of accidents. The point being Jean put his complete trust to Grossular. But this guy is sharp as tack. When Jean tells him about his tail, he knows exactly who leak the source. Speaking of accident, there appears to be another tragedy that happened 33 years ago. Get that? Underneath this peaceful nation there have been lots of repressed uprising, accidents, tragedies that might or might not come from the same cause. That world IS DANGEROUS. And with the TV announcement that there have been no accidents for 2 years, could it be a foreshadow for the plane, that Jean was in right before the end, will get crashed and burn? Hmmm, it’s likely, very likely indeed.

Jean finally had to report his audits back to Mauve and of course it was a failure as he spilled nothing. He’s hiding details from her about what happened in Suitsu (what happens in Paris, stays in Paris) but she knows it right away. She even summons the other investigation team to check back on the situation. I am actually starting to think that the rumor upcoming coup is actually a combination of several minor coups from each district and from our key members, as the way I see it many of our cast have their own agenda and purpose here. The president of Privy council is obviously the main suspect, as taking down the prince Schwann would be most beneficial to him. Lilium is also very unreliable as well. Each of the district was give autonomy for their land but if the prince Schwann take over he want control over all districts and that of course doesn’t ring well for those districts. All they need is someone who is the center of attention which can push the button to bring all the coup together, and Jean fits the bill quite nicely here.

ACCA sure loves to have party and eating cakes and this episode is no exception, cramming up a New Year party at Jean’s own apartment. As we all know, even Jean or Lotte don’t know the true landlord (but curiously Nini does) but the building is at centre of the town and all the general managers of big department stores live there. As of now I pretty much consider party, cakes and bread as ACCA’s identity so I don’t mind to get bread-porn once in awhile. In his next audit, Jean gets to the island of Hare that looks most similarly to Hawaii. People there are easy-going, have a high life expectancy and know more about the coup than even Jean, but again this district is cut off significantly so there’s not much else to talk about its characteristics. I love the fact that despite being blowed up the cover, Nino always stays exactly one step behind Jean and I really love the moments the three mains Jean, Nino, Lotta staying together. They carry such great chemistry.

Six episodes in, we still have little clue about the storms to come and what exactly is Jean’s position in this coup? Is he the one who find out and stop the coup? Is he the main factor for the coup to gain its threatening force or is he the cause for the coup to happen after all? I’m digging this deliberate pacing. Normally slow pacing with not too much happened means that they stretch the story too thin but for ACCA I’m confident that they know where they go ahead. Even if where they go next might get crashed and burned like a wrecked airplane.

Posted on 9 February 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

Okay, this episode… just ends. Look, I normally don’t mind slow-burned story hinting multiple threads and this episode is clearly a set-up episode for upcoming major events, but at least the episode itself has to be completed. Leaving viewers hanging for incompleteness is just as cruel as terrible cliffhanger. Nevermind though, as long as set-up episode goes this week has a large amount of characters interacting with each other. Let first talk about the bureaucrats, as I still can’t put my finger on whether or not they’re a comic relief for the show, or the fact that they’re crazy about toast will be relevant in future events. While at it, the whole bread culture is running strong this week, as many characters express their blind love for breads. Cheers for Magi for being completely out of character, since he abandoned his spying job for the bread-tasting and making a friend in a process. Rail and Magi make up the most unlikely pair but really hooray the show for being so off the track. Well, I do enjoy the humor for this silliness so even if this side story doesn’t add up much, we will always have this companionship formed by the mutual interest of Lotta and toast. Lotta, likewise, do nothing this week except eating cakes, eating breads and having dinners, but weirdly she fits the story very well so I guess the actual coup d’etat might have something to do with bread and toast??? Cake fight? Then I’m definitely on it.

Kidding aside, the main development in this episode has to be that Jean finally exposes Nino’s spy cover. Lilium’s hint was really obvious here, as if his main objective is to decrease the influence of Grossular rather than assisting Jean. But I’m sure people will agree with me that the best part in this episode was the way both Jean and Nino handle the situation. They considered each other as friends at heart so despite blowing the cover up, they remain as close friend. After all, Nino ensures Jean that his main objective of tailing Jean wasn’t for ACCA anyways, so my guess is that his other boss directly tied to the coming coup d’etat. Jean doesn’t mind that he had been following all this time by Nino though, because he knows for sure that Nino will protect him whenever he’s in trouble, just like last week’s uprising. Nor did he give a damn about the reason why Nino rat out on him in a first place. I’m happy to see that their trust and understanding of each other have been very well fleshed out this episode.

This week alone, Jean has to go through two audits and I am a bit sadden that the show decides to rush through it. After all, the 13 districts in this Dowa kingdom are one of the most interesting settings we have in a while, and I would love to learn more about each district’s distinct traits. The two districts that we visited this week in particular have their own strokes of unique features here and there, Birra district is a self-efficient district, and despite its harsh weather with produce no wheat, beer or cigarette, they have oil as their main industry. Understandably Birra district doesn’t want to stay behind in danger should one of the 13 districts becomes dominant, so they’d use oil as their main weapon: control the oil, so that others can’t overtake them. Rokkusu district, on the other hand, is more mountainous and remind us a bit of the old West, as of now there’s not much details about the district. Seriously, even see the different settings, different customs and bread types is enough to get me satisfied, so I really hope the show spend more time to provide us just that.

In term of the big picture though, what do we have so far? We’re pretty much in dark about the details that Jean got out from Suitsu (damn, they’re keeping their cards too close to their chest), so as much as I want to root for Jean, he’s an unreliable narrator at the moment. He did receive one more cigarette, that “from whom they sent those” and “why” are still unclear. This is clearly a calm before the storm moments, but the problem is that with no clear indication on what’s about to come, it’s hard for us to know how big the storm gonna be, so there is no real threat here. Maybe in that sense it’s not so bad as the harder we figure out the real plot, the more interesting we find ourselves into the story, as with me I found myself liking ACCA more and more. At last, Jean is going to meet Grossular so we…

(to the spirit of the ending of this episode, my post ends here)

Posted on 3 February 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Currently Watching:

We are no stranger with this kind of world in anime: an isolated, conservative world that cut-off from outside communication and ultimately stay behind its times, slowing back 10, 20 even hundred years. Everything there is monitored and controlled by the rules and authority. As ACCA keeps suggesting the chaos within this peaceful façade, the most appropriate way to question this very world is to put its ideas to an extreme spectrum, as a result we have this isolated district of Suitsu. The Dowa kingdom promotes autonomy in its 13 districts, with each of the district bring their own uniqueness to better suit the place; but what happen when the authority started to abuse their power in a negative way? Citizens in Suitsu are prohibited to use phone, even to communicate with outsider in the pretense of “preserving tradition”; they in turns are displeased with how things going and form an angry mob. What sadden me the most is we’re living in this exact same world, where North Korea still cut-off from the rest of the world just like this. Suitsu district, when you look at it, is more like one of those weird countries straight out of Kino’s Journey, but it still manages to add ambiguity to the flaws of the Dowa Kingdom’s systems so in that regards, this episode still has its merits.

But when it comes to the actual plot of this episode, then this week ACCA made one mistake that they managed to avoid so brilliantly before: its delicate pacing. ACCA is slow-burn, at the same time there are many plots and themes going on both underneath and beneath the surface but as far as I concerned they hold everything together extremely well. This week though, we follow Jean as he auditing the district, witness him being kidnapped, then learn about the coup d’état, follow the angry mob, the uprising and their ultimate downfall, both in a runtime of merely 20 minutes. The pacing therefore is much quicker this time, as a result those big events don’t have time to settle down or give much impact. We just know Wabler or Biscuit at the beginning of this week so it’s hard to relate to them or the events around them. I get the message: frustration out of unfairness and strictness is relatable, but I hardly feel any of this. It comes quick and goes quick and leave not much impact.

When you judge this episode through its stance in the big picture, then this show offers too little to the main narrative as well. At the end, those uprising will be hidden and forgotten, only Jean gets away with the knowledge of the actual coup d’état and that’s freaking little development for a complex show like ACCA. Although we do learn that Nino apparently is working as a triple agent and we have a glimpse on another member of the ACCA’s five Pastis and the Suitsu representative Beurre, this still leave a lot to be desired. No, this episode, while certainly is a competent episode in its own ways, serves as my least favorite episode so far of ACCA (the curse of episode 4) both because it runs too quick for its own good, and it adds too little to the main narrative. And where is the glorious cake and tasty bread this time? All we have was a loaf of bread when Jean was all tied up so… um, no, thank you.

CHANGE USERNAME
Anonymous1127552
We don't get anime set in world war II because they don't want to remember how evil their country was.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That caught my attention, some kind of suspense manga set in world war II, for obvious reasons you don't often see manga/anime set in that time often enough so thats interesting at least.
Anonymous1124748
KTravlos here: On RE-Creators Saouto. Remember we are talking about a 14? year old kid who believed made his girlfriend commit suicide. I get the point and frustration, but do keep that in mind.
Lenlo
@Mario, for Hero Academia, just wait. The hype is real for Shouto vs Midoriya.
SuperMario
This is one of Saekano's biggest issue: while there are 5 main casts, the show seems to care to develop 3 of them. When that rival-guy begs Tomoya to continue the circle, and stresses that "Don't lose Eriri and Utaha". I just feel... dishearten. No recognition for Kato and Michiru then
SuperMario
Another 2 shows that I want to mention this week: My Hero Academia's last episode fight between Ecchan and Urarawa is my favorite match out of this Tournament arc. Saekano's last episode actually frustrated me. When it's obvious that this is the time for Kato's conflict, the show still spends too much time on Eriri and Utaha.
SuperMario
KTravlos: based on the content I thought it's you as well. I actually enjoyed Virgin Soul. It's an important episode actually, where all of out mains are locked up/ imprisioned. Yep, Re:Creators was great as well. But hell, Souta... his character's annoying. The creations, on the other hand, are developing quite nicely
Anonymous1123421
KTravlos here. Hmm wordpress has cast me out :p
Anonymous1123392
what a great RE:Creators episode. I do not know how Mamika will end up. But manly tears shall be shed. A great character.

Virgin Soul had a so-so to disappointing tonning down episode. Expected. Still they are smart to put Favoro there as a "sorry for that mates".
AoT, knowing what I know from the manga, made this episode all that more striking.
Anonymous1123296
Woah, Alice n' Zokuro has some of the most amazing writing I've seen this decade!
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: And because of the negative space in the picture and guy in the background, it might also emphasize distance.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: This was an obvious shot choice (come on, because they KISSED), but the one I liked the most was the top right one. The characters aren't in the center of focus, and a bit too close to the screen tell us how much Chinatsu wanted to get close to Kotarou, at the same time we feel a bit uncomfortable just like him (too close). Smart visual telling there
Kaiser-Eoghan
I should start giving attention to shots in anime as I do in art films. You've chosen a good one for tsuki ga kirei on the bottom right.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Speaking of shots....some of the static photography is Tsai ming liangs Goodbye dragon in is stunning. I saw an Ozu film where the framing was absolutely masterful.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The eyeball scene in the restaurant OMO, scenes like that had very good way of creeping up on the viewer.
SuperMario
... and the fireworks in the end. Emotionally satisfied for that bleak film
SuperMario
Thanks Kaiser. Still think Black Coal is a very stylish and well-done neo-noir. One shot in particular still stick with me is the one long, unbroken shot that combine the past with the present.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*reviewing
It was your review that got me interested in the film mario.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, I know that feeling, having to get out all my thoughts immediately. I also stream of consciousness what I write whether it be a poem or review then go back to edit, shows the passion a person has for what they're review.
SuperMario
It was just 3 years ago. I think I MUST review everything as soon as I finish, otherwise I will forget. Getting old now. Dang it
SuperMario
It was a great review, Kaiser. I also feel comparing Black Coal to Memories of Murders don't do this film justice too (although to be hinest I don't see the comparison). Your review just reminds me that I did review that film on Letterboxd, thou for the life of me, when I read ny own review I had no clue that i did write it
Kaiser-Eoghan
@K-off: Constantine was really the only reason I would have considered seeing the film, as I enjoyed some of the comics he appeared in.
Lenlo
Yaaay! Favaro is back!
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Ah, now I remember, I stopped watching ghost hound at around episode 14 or 15 years ago.
K-Off
Justice League Dark ended up being one of the weakest among the recent animated dc films. The opening was intriguing but it drops the ball as soon as it focuses on Zatanna and Constantine...The demonic manipulation of people isn't tied well enough to the villain, so that premise ends up feeling pointless, everything is inconsequential by the end. Why was this even made?
SuperMario
And for once, I feel that developing the characters isn't a appropriate choice for this type of show. The main cast need to develop, yes, but most of the supporting cast was presented as ambiguous and mysterious, thus making them change in the end feel just wrong
SuperMario
The main kidnapping was never addressed thoroughly, and it should be the main overarching arc, instead of this ending.
SuperMario
So... I've just binged through Ghost Hound. It starts as a compelling psychological mystery series, and ends up being... thriller of sort? The first half, building up stage was its best, and then unfortunately it run out of steam
KTravlos
Hey Favoro is like a good whiskey. You gotta drink it slow and enjoy it :)

I liked Predators.
Spike
8 episodes in we finally get to see who we were all waiting for in Bahamut! ...for 2 seconds.
Vonter
I did watch the version with the alien coming out of the ox. I haven't watched Predators, AVP1 was ok, like the newer movies its just the human element that has consistently gotten worse and unmemorable. I think that element in particular made me enjoy watching Alien 3 now, than if I had watched it in order, considering how it begins.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Thankfully the franchise can never fall as low as the predator reboot or alien vs predator.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: Be sure you're watching the extended version.
Vonter
I liked 3/4s of this film, as the plans to kill the alien got more cumbersome the film got more tiring. And I think it was obligated to annihilate the cast considering they take the time to take out a whole bunch of them. I also think it's very noticeable the tiring production this had, and while people praise practical effects now, this movie sadly didn't integrate well the alien puppet.
Vonter
I've just watched Alien 3, the only Alien movie I hadn't seen do to the diviseness towards it. I think I went with the best expectations considering now on hindsight newer movies have made it look more competent, having more weight. This movie has characters, integrates the religious motiffs better, the Alien more than a closet monster is a formidable force of nature.
Kaiser-Eoghan
.....It just dawn on me looking through my letterboxd account...I have never seen afro samurai...
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I'm on hold with SukaSuka as well after 5 episodes. Ejoyable so far but its LN's tendencies hurt the show
SuperMario
@Kaiser: yeah, like I said in one of my weekly post, Tsuki ga Kirei is simple, but isn't easily obtained. At this point, I'm truly invested in these kids that it makes me tense just to see how they keep up with their relationship, haha.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have yet to catch up with sukasuka and don't care about bahamut all that much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel its sweet and sensitive approach has a rhythm to it that I started going along with.
It’s obviously slow but I began not noticing the time go by as I watched more.
The art makes me think of Shimura Takako’s and makes me wonder what the series might have been like if she wrote it.
The dub is mediocre so after 3 episodes I switched to subs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The relative quietness and how scaled back in comparison to other anime romances is welcome and it never becomes dramatically or comedically obnoxious which I think is in its favour.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I decided to catch up on tsuki ga kirei. We said this before, but that scene where he meets the publisher about his writing is a stand out one.
For the show overall so far itself, above all I see it as something simple, un-demanding to watch, its good a break from all those old/art films I have to concentrate on harder to follow.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe Goth would count but its more o a mystery manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Not familiar with shibito or sugar life. May as well recommend everything by Kazuo Umezu and Junji ito. 6000 ended disappointingly, I fell behind in dead tube. Does sugar dark count?
Lenlo
I am a Hero is a personal favorite of mine
AidanAK47
@Anon: Uzumaki, Shibito no Koe o Kiku ga Yoi, Happy Suger Life, 6000 and Dead Tube. I suppose.
Anonymous1116992
What is some good horror manga
K-Off
@Mario I also noticed that korean thrillers are way too obnoxious with shakycam.
Lenlo
@Mario, about LWA, that was how I felt. Its just not as magical, as special, as the original OVA was to me. I suppose thats to much to ask for a 25 ep series, but it turned me off
AidanAK47
@Mario, TV Diana has some charm points but I think OVA Diana provided a better dynamic. I mean sure, She was essentially female Draco Malfoy but her attitude made reveals like her being a secret Chariot fan more impactful. Plus her tsundere act torwards Akko was rather adorable.
SuperMario
about LWA again, unlike Aidan I actually enjoy this version of Diana. I know she's one note, too perfect but she's charming. Too charming haha which serves well as a contrast to Akko
SuperMario
...just pop one random film from him. His films are not without its bad side thou, in particular I find the dialogues shapeless and dragging. But well it does add to the naturalness of his films
KTravlos
on LWA I would also recommended it. It is a fluffy show, with a sense of wonder. Some episodes are better, some are more flat, and the over-arching storyline leaves me bored. But it does have that sense of childlike wonder, which I had missed among all the "grim" shows.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I have a bit of problems with Korean movies lately as now they're heavily thriller style-over-substance films, so films that have very simple style like Hong-Sang-Soo's joints are the welcome change of air. One thing about his films thou, If you watched one of his film, you've watched them all. They're so similar in tones and concepts that I reckon if you feel like watching his films...
SuperMario
So I say it's still worth finishing. It's good but I don't feel the sparks that made it so great from the OVAs anymore
SuperMario
@Lenlo: about LWA. Plus side: Those hijinks. I mean the show is fun and magical. Negative side: I wish the show's storytelling is a bit tighter, each episode feels so loose it doesn't add up much and more like different variations of Akko + one member of the cast's hijink. Doesn't help either that the other casts just disappeared until they have an episode for 2 for themselves
SuperMario
@Anon1113829: I "enjoyed" Beyond the Boundary, but that show was a mess. The episode 10 was stand out for me, and the ending was kinda... a wreck. Certainly interesting but quality-wise I wouldn't reccommend it
Anonymous1113829
@SuperMario KyoAni fan? What did you think of Kyoukai no Kanata? I really wanted to like it, I thought it had some potential, but IMO nothing worked right.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, It's good. Fun to watch certainly. Though sadly it falls short of being great.
Lenlo
So question: Is Little Witch Academia worth finishing atm? I started it last season, but for some reason it just fell off my radar
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Thankfully, while not entirely satisfying, day he arrives is just the Korean film I've been looking for, refreshingly more low key, quieter and I enjoyed the new wavy combined with raw style, making it all feel very natural.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Well then, thanks for the rec on Hong-sang-so, I looked at The day he arrives. Y'know the reason I sometimes dread going into films featuring romance is because I'm conditioned from seeing the bad ones.
Kaiser-Eoghan
....I may actually read this, the last time I read a manga steeped in politics was Sanctuary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle:_The_Making_of_an_Asian-American_President
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I actually have very limited experience with Ellis as a comic book writer, only read Transmetropolitan, I know he's writing the Castlevania adaptation.
SuperMario
@Aidan: I heard the same thing; can't help being a completist though so I'll eventually get to them
AidanAK47
@Mario, From what I heard, it doesn't get better.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: that scene from the 1st episode of Phantom world lost me... but even then I'm willing to give the show another chance. That's how far I would go ^^ https://mobile.twitter.com/aaapodcast/status/687148875052892160/photo/2
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, Looks like they are putting some real effort into it. May actually turn out pretty good after all.
@K-Off, Under the Red hood is a damn fine movie. Likely one of the best of the DC animated universe. Though try Superman vs the elite out. It's pretty good.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Even phantom world Mario...even phantom world ? =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
Just the teaser trailer, not much to go on, but heres a short preview of that netflix castlevania thing that got mentioned on here a while back, up the quality to 360p:
SuperMario
At this stage, I'm pretty much KyoAni fanboy now so with every new material, I'll hype it up to the sky ^^
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I did follow it up with The spy who loved me though to cheer myself up =P Given that Rodger Moore just died =)
SuperMario
@Kaiser: just looked through what Short Men Behind the Sun is about: "human experiments carried out by Japanese army during WW2?" Already sound grim and too real. Then "a graphic depiction of the human experiments" haha no wonder you felt unsettled Kaiser
VyseLegendaire
My favorite Exploitation Flick is An Inconvenient Truth 2.0
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Long story short men behind the sun is finally the exploitation flick that defeated me and actually made me unsettled.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I remember you talking about how Salo really affected you as an exploitation film, generally exploitation films don't shock or disturb me, but I just watched the cantonese dubbed version of Men behind the sun.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And the worst thing about beyond the boundry and phantom world, it discolours my opinion of kyoani as a whole, making me negatively reflect on older work they did .
AidanAK47
Yep, that's the new KyoAni one. Like Puran I don't have any expectations of it. The premise certainly seems like the closest they have come to breaking out of there usual format but I am sure they will find a way to shove in Moe antics. Though based on what is seen so far it looks like they are trying to emulate Key.
Puran
Is that a new KyoAni anime?.. I have lost faith in them a long time ago. Last Anime from them that I cared about was probably Hyouka
SuperMario
Bring you some news, Violet Evergarden will be aired as an anime TV. Though many sources saying it gonna air this year, it has a better possibility to air next year
SuperMario
Well, aesthetically, he's pretty much on par with Yang and Wong. It's just that his films are often emotionally distant, feel more like watching the paint dry hahaa
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I connect more emotionally with Yang and Wong.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I went in expecting Edward Yang and Kar-wong-wai levels of quality, which may have been quite unfair standards to put him up against.
SuperMario
I myself find his films difficult to watch, but when the films end they usually hold up very very well. Both The Assassin and 3 Times in particular are my favorite of the year
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I completely understand your reaction because his films are demanding as hell. I remembered watching The Assassin in big screen, 3 people next to me fall asleep, one of them snoring and the other one fall asleep within the first 10 mins. That Hou Hsiao's movies for you
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its such a shame because he makes gorgeous cinema and City of sadness is actually pretty informative account of the times....I just can't jive with him and I actually like "slow cinema" but watching his work is insanity inducingly boring for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: ....I'm really sorry, I don't mind long slow even spiritual, talky, non-narrative, old, complex,meditative , art films but I'm really really finding it hard to watch Hou Hsiao's work, I've tried time to live and the Assassin and I just bailed after 2 out of 3 hours on city of sadness.
KTravlos
I have to say Akko is developing nicely as a character in LWA. Also Magane in Re:Creators reminds me of Hannibal as palyed by Mads Mikkelsen. There is that same est for life married to sociopath that is a bit charming :) Mamika's character is also just cool. Beyond that AofT and Bahamut both delivered competent episodes, with Bahamut a good mix between comedy and tragedy.
K-Off
@Aidan Assault on Arkham was fantastic. Between that and Under the Red Hood, a classic.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I have a lot to say in this week's Eccentric Family. Review will come up later tonight when I get back home from work.
AidanAK47
Seen Assault on Arkham or what it should be called, The animated Suicide Squad movie. Thinking of checking out Dark.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Have you seen assault on Arkham or the justice league dark film?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: It isn't so much because its Talia x Batman, moreso that it feels odd shipping Batman with anyone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
While kind of amusing, initially I wasn't too into Uchouten this week, the hot spring part got me groaning, but then someway through dramatically it really picked up.
Kaiser-Eoghan
From reading comics a few years back, I still feel that they adapt better to animation.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: And I say this as someone who was able to defend Alien 3 and Ressurection.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Covenent felt like an Infantilized version of Alien.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wouldn't call either John Wick film or free fire amazing or anything but they had great fight scenes that were actually visually coherent , of course they weren't given a proper release.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not watching/paying for anymore of these reboots/remakes/shakey cam pg rated action films anymore. I'll stick with my balls to the wall Hong-Kong/Chinese ones.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: It also had really uneven pacing aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: ....The dialogue is so embarassing, they don't do enough with this backstory, they just keep teasing, none of the new characters have the same charisma , the editting in the action scenes shakes all overtheplace.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: I gave Covenent a fair chance, I thought it would be an exception to the reboot thing. I'll admit theres the sets, the atmosphere, Fassbenders performance , the idea to expand on the franchises mythos is cool but....
Kaiser-Eoghan
It really really hurts as a film fan, trying to find older, genuinely quality foreign films , finding that no-one is seeding them and theres no proper/in print dvd release anymore. Then finding some awful shakey cam modern American superhero film with billions of seeds and a bluray release.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, I don't know. Todd was more the imperfect son always aiming for batmans approval. Damian is more an assasin wondering why the hell he can't just kill his enemies. I hear that Comic Damian works better than Animated Damian. I do think that if given a personality he could work but as he is currently you are right that he's essentially a mishmash of past robins.
Vonter
I watched Alien Covenant and I don't know if it improves by being more dumb and less pretentious or if it os the final nail in the Alien franchise coffin. Not since the StarWats prequels there has been a retcon that changes your view of the original movies.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can recall enjoying a certain Jason Todd centered story called Batman:death in the family.
K-Off
Well, even when Damian does completely cross the line and become a villain, he's not even that interesting, i.e Injustice. Yup, Jason Todd already covered everything, but better.
AidanAK47
Problem is that he's an edge lord cocky piece of shit that just doesn't have enough likeable traits for this to be compelling. What really pushed him over the edge was mocking Nightwing over his parents deaths. That shit is not on.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, I like the contrast that Batman refuses to cross the line and kill but Damian has crossed that line. As well as his potentail to become a villain. Tim and Dick didn't really have that though Jason sort of did. Damian's arc is more about teaching him the morality of a hero.
K-Off
@Aidan I'm not sure I like Damian's concept to begin with. The Bat-son dilemma's inherently addressed by the Robins for all intents and purposes. Damian just goes through the same motion, only difference being he's biologically related.
K-Off
Yup. Wonderwoman either doesn't need to have a love interest, or it needs to be with Steve Trevor, the two have a solid backstory that the movies unnecessarily removed.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, I don't mind the Taila X batman pairing. Makes more sense than Batman and Batgirl. But if there's one pairing pushed in the new movies that I just find wrong is the Superman X wonder woman. I just don't get that one.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, I like the concept of Damian as a character. But it's executed so badly.
Anonymous1105941
Teen titans needs one more season to wrap up all the loose ends. Such as what happens to Slade, and Blackfires revenge. The creators clearly wanted to explore those plot lines but got cut short.
K-Off
Teen Titans hasn't aged very well, but one thing I still do like about it is how contained and local the setting and cast were for the first half of that show. When godly superpowers are involved, that appeals to me. Much of the same reason why I like Logan and Raimi's Spiderman so much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Very rarely watched teen titans when I was younger, I was vaguely interested in slade, stopped watching around when Terra appeared. I actively avoided comics where Damien appeared, never liked that Talia x Batman pairing much, I can only imagine how much worse it is to listen to Damien than read him.
K-Off
@Aidan, I like some aspects of those movies, but I'm not a big fan of the new continuity and art style in general...and yeah it doesn't help that Damian is irredeemably unlikable.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, There is also the DC animated Teen Titans movies like Teen Titans vs Justice Leage and Teen titans the Judus contract. Though it's not the same as the the TV series and Damian is such a dick.
K-Off
@Anon I don't think Teen Titans needs another season. The last season wasn't that good, but the movie ended the series on a high note and Young Justice pretty much rebooted everything, at least in terms of replacing people's want for a more mature DC cartoon about the Titans.
K-Off
Yeah it's become more of a hassel (for myself and my friends) to set aside time to go to a theater.
SuperMario
I guess in the end it all comes down to how easily it reaches the viewers. Give us a hard time and we don't give a damn to check the new movie/show out
SuperMario
... otherwise have to wait for a year, even more before it reaches Australia. But many companies will raise in the wake of Netflix and that will be where problems arise
SuperMario
This trend isn't happening within the anime industry, but it's happening in the movie world as well. In the past 2 years, Netflix starts to exclusively distribute many films, meaning that they won't have theatrical release, but straight to Video on Demand which caused quite a stir in the industry. Personally, I actually don't have much problem with it as now I will get a chance to see a film that
SuperMario
Dive!! , a series that will air next season on noitaminA slot will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Not that I'm eagerly looking forward to Dive, but that news again makes me frustrated. No one will watch it and then all the hypes it might have will die down eventually.
Anonymous1105394
Considering I didn't even expect a season 5 it's more than I could've evr wanted. Now if only if only Teen Titans could get the same chance.
Lenlo
Oh yeah, it turned out well. Didnt mean to say it didnt.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Considering that the ratio of great to alright episodes is 8 to 2 I say that it turned out pretty well.
Lenlo
I have to say, the Samurai Jack season started stronger than it ended imo
AidanAK47
So this is how Samurai Jack ends. 16 years in the making. Honestly considering how much needed to get wrapped up I knew the ending would be a bit flawed. Really think Gen should have givin it one more episode to flesh out the ending and then it wouldn't feel so rushed. Overall despite it's flaws, it's a decent ending. Not prefect by any means but it will do the job.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lol theres a surprise, seriously, Black Lagoons manga is updating again.
KTravlos
worst recap ever for me? Gangsta. That was a stupid recap episode. Really like a Public Announcement. Useless, stupid, and ruining atmosphere. Utter stupidity. There I got it our of me :p
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Masky: Unfortunately too far behind in the sequel manga to catch up, I did take a look at THAT in the latest chapter though.
Masky
Huh, for some reason thought Tokyo Ghoul was under shonen when its seinen. Welp now that makes more sense, I was thinking story about cannibalism would be kinda absurd for shonen.
Spike
They serve no purpose except to fill airtime when production gets fucked up. They have 2 bad choices - run a recap or run an unfinished episode. Recap is generally the less dogshit choice. I've seen a few anime that ran the episodes with unfinished animations and still frames.... the backlash was about 100x what a recap is.
SuperMario
I'm about to say that to you as well Kaiser, maybe watch the recap and then continue on. The only thing I kind of take from the recap episode is the editting: how they chop off the fat of 6 episodes to still give you important developments. But as a way to catch up/ to reintroduce the series, it's freaking useless
Anonymous1104087
I don't think anyone should start from the recap episode. Unless there was a long hiatus, a recap in between episodes is unnecessary for new viewers and old
Lenlo
I mean, aside from whatever happens with Mugaro.
Lenlo
Next episode seems early, out of 24 episodes, for Nina to learn the Prince is Chris, yet that seems to be what the confrontation is leading towards, and then she freaks out and he learns shes the dragon. Becomes the conflict for the rest of the season?
Lenlo
Seems I was right, Azazel didnt predict that Nina might not be so easily riled up as she once was. To bad so sad Azazel, she has someone she loves now.
Kaiser-Eoghan
How useful are these recap episodes anyway/actually? Hypothetically lets say I was feeling lazy and decided to watch tsuki ga kirei starting from the recap episode.
Kaiser-Eoghan
[link src="https://www.anirena.com/?s=blame

http://anilinkz.io/blame-movie"]
Lenlo
So long as there are consequences for how hes acting, then I am ok with it. I just dont want him to turn into some MC hero when hes acting like this.
AidanAK47
And in Re:Creators Sota is still being a goddamn pussy. Now that the exposition has gone down I am really starting to hate this kid.
SuperMario
It's the presentation that they differ. Ghost Hound focuses more on the atmosphere, so those details I mentioned before work for their benefits; whereas Sagrada Reset focus on plots (and confusing themes) so those stick out like sore thumb.
SuperMario
4 episodes into Ghost Hound so far. This show also reminds me a bit of Sagrada Reset this season- the way they both emotional distant, complex plots; keep viewers away at arm's length, and feature characters that have robotic facial expressions. Yet I enjoyed Ghost Hound so far and couldn't engage in Sagrada Reset at all.
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