Posted on 11 November 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

It’s a good thing I didn’t go back to single episode reviews, as I promised last time, because these two didn’t leave me with a whole lot to talk about. Much of “Performer” was spent bringing Tatara and Chinatsu back together after their spat from the previous installment, but since I didn’t buy into that conflict in the first place, it ended up feeling like more of a hangout episode (with plenty of fanservice and shipping to boot). We got some uncommon character pairings, too, like Chinatsu/Mako and Tatara/Shizuku, the latter of which is a rarity these days. And while these sorts of cast shake-ups might have delighted me a couple months ago, they seemed rather utilitarian here, given the need for our main couple’s big breakup to be reversed. Thankfully, the chill-inducing conclusion to “Competitor No. 13” justified the show’s clumsier machinations – but we’ll get to that soon enough.

Ballroom e Youkoso has devoted what seems like a dozen monologues to the ideas that 1) Tatara is a poor leader, and 2) he and Chinatsu aren’t a good fit. There’s a glaring issue with this constant hammering of the same couple points, and it’s one I’ve tried not to mention too often, since it’s such a widely repeated criticism of the show. Maybe this episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back, though, because I’m compelled to bring it up: the dancing direction isn’t strong enough to communicate the same messages. We hear it verbally, but we rarely see Tatara failing as a leader. What we see are a lot of still shots, anguished expressions, and reactions from judges or crowd members. Moreover, Ballroom hasn’t properly shown its audience what successful leadership looks like in motion. We’ve just been trained to equate confidence with skill, and as anybody who’s ever played a sport knows, they’re not the same at all.

Without the choreography necessary to convey Tatara’s failures, the show falls back on dialogue to destroy and rebuild his new partnership. A lot of Chinatsu’s grief seems to stem from jealousy, which comes to the surface after she learns about the past Tatara/Mako partnership. I felt really proud of Mako for keeping her patience with Chinatsu, even after the older girl implied that dancers with consistent partners led breezy, carefree lives. Mako’s maturity aside, however, this scene boiled down to Tatara’s leadership being verbally praised, and Chinatsu deciding to give him a second chance as a result. The Tatara/Shizuku scene involved even more lip service, but was somehow less convincing – if Tatara is capable of impressing a veteran like Shizuku, why is his lack of leading ability constantly being harped on? As this scene played out, with one of Japan’s best amateur dancers calling him “a mystery,” I couldn’t help but think that Tatara has always been portrayed as an open book.

Alright, that’s enough criticism of the show’s visuals. As important as they ought to be in a show about ballroom dancing, the characters are the main attraction, and they really came through in the second of these two episodes. Being in a competitive setting once again, Tatara and Chinatsu really seemed to be click, despite their occasional bickering. The appearance of the dancers’ family members was a lot of fun, as well, especially Mine-san’s wife and child, from whom he kept his continued dancing a secret. But the thing that really sold me on the start of this arc was the final scene, where Tatara’s intensity started to overtake Chinatsu, represented both by smoke and by blood cells entering her body. Ballroom pulled out a couple of neat dance sequences for the start of the Metropolitan tournament, but taken alone, those wouldn’t have been enough to convince me of Chinatsu’s sensation. This show tends to hit a home run whenever it uses visual metaphors this way, so I’m glad it went back to that well. It’s no small task to convince your audience that someone as stubborn as Chinatsu would give control to another person, but the creative team took a good first step with this episode.

Posted on 23 October 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

Boy, this was really a Tale of Two Ballrooms. One of these episodes was almost certainly outsourced, based on the visual inconsistencies that extended even to key poses, but handled its character moments dutifully. The other looked markedly better than most of this show’s recent offerings, but rushed through so much material that its conclusion had hardly any impact. I suppose it’s a good thing I watched them together, since they make up for each other’s weaknesses, but episode 16’s abrupt finish left a sour taste in my mouth to end the doubleheader. A word of warning before you read any further: this is going to be one of those reviews were I make reference to the Ballroom manga more than once, and the eternal anime buzzword “pacing” will probably make an appearance before too long. If that sounds like something you can tolerate, at least for a few more paragraphs, then let’s unpack these episodes together.

My favorite part of “Taking the Reins” was the introduction of Kugimiya, who made an excellent transition from page to screen. He’s a blunt, imposing figure, whose tall stature and thin eyes make him a good aesthetic foil for Tatara. They’re opposites in the way they approach dance, as well; Kugimiya speaks harshly to his partner (who he’s nicknamed “Banshee”), and considers the strength of a couple’s leader to be of paramount importance. When Tatara objects to that philosophy, Kugimiya uses his undeniable skill to toss Tatara (occupying the female role) around like a ragdoll. Even Kugimiya’s theme, with its schizophrenic bassline and backwards piano, is brash and off-putting – the anime staff did an A+ job with his character. Off-putting though he may be, he’s right about how important the leader’s role is in ballroom dance, a fact that Hyodo’s mother Marisa reiterates more clearly than ever before. As Tatara’s new coach, it’s her job to make her pupil take a more active role in his routines, but it won’t be easy given his typically passive attitude.

Tatara’s old coach makes an appearance in this episode, as well, with Sengoku’s return to Japan after a month-long timeskip. The kids attend Japan’s International Dance Championships and watch as he and Hongo place third on the world stage, a feat which leaves Tatara in awe of his former mentor. After sharing a few laughs throughout the day, teacher and student have a nice moment together when Tatara works up the nerve to call him “sensei” for the first (and probably last) time. I thought it was swell of Ballroom to acknowledge the influence Sengoku has had on his old student’s development, especially because its newly-heightened narrative pace risks leaving some characters behind. Sengoku could have been a little more sentimental about it in the moment, but he had some encouraging words for Tatara during their classic train station farewell, so I’m happy. If there’s one criticism I’d level at this scene, it’s that it played a bit like a final goodbye, but it shouldn’t have, since I doubt this is the last time they’ll see one another. And speaking of scenes that don’t feel right…

Here’s a tip for all you aspiring storyboard artists out there: USE THE MANGA PANELS WHEN PLANNING YOUR ANIME. The beauty of series with existing source material is that some of the work is already done for you, and comics in particular lay things out really nicely. You can deviate from the manga, of course, but since anime is presented to the viewer at a fixed tempo, it’s important to note panels that indicate the passage of time, and use a similar device in your adaptation. Elaborate on them, do a montage, or throw a few stills on screen set to a throwaway piece of music – just make sure the episode is paced appropriately. Here’s what not to do: finish a scene with Marisa telling Tatara and Chinatsu that they can’t compete in a Grand Prix, fade to black, and transition immediately to the two of them on a train to the Grand Prix one month later. You might do this for humorous effect, but that’s not what Ballroom wanted to achieve here, and their omission of the manga’s dance training and end-of-school panels made the end of the episode feel super choppy.

The same problem carried over to the next episode, where Tatara’s obsession with a peculiar sensation he experienced while dancing led to his disqualification from the Grand Prix. He zoned out while sitting on the sidelines, you see, and when he came to, the competition was over. That’s what you might think, anyway, given that the anime only presents us with a shot of Chinatsu’s anguished look, then cuts straight to them in street clothes at a train station. Gone are her repeated attempts to rouse him, his slow return to reality, the call from another competitor asking if he should be on the dance floor, and the indication that the heat is still going on and they only missed it by a minute or so. The show was so preoccupied with showcasing its (admittedly cool) four-legged animation that it forgot how to sequence itself. I can only guess whether anime-only viewers found these scenes to be sloppy, but I know that similar transitions in other series have bothered me, even without knowing a thing about the original work.

There’s a whole half-episode of content left to discuss, but I don’t want this review to hit a thousand words, so I’m calling it here. Looks like I’ve still got plenty to say about Ballroom, so we probably ought to go back to single episode reviews. I’ll touch on whatever I missed from “Four-legged” in the next one.

Posted on 10 October 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

The unstoppable Anime Catch-up Train continues with a Ballroom doubleheader. These two episodes weren’t aired on the same day like 4 and 5 from the previous cour, but they might as well have been, given the way they complimented one another. Chinatsu has stolen not only the spotlight, but every bulb in the damn house at this point, but her peculiar personality needs explaining, and that’s what these episodes set out to do. For all the popularity that the tsundere trope enjoys, I’m glad that Ballroom decided to dive into Chinatsu’s background and explore what makes her tick, rather than carelessly dropping her into the cast and coasting on Japan’s love for girls who play hot-and-cold. If it hadn’t taken the necessary time to examine her character, her clashes with Tatara would be even more frustrating than they are now (even if the OP blatantly foreshadows them).

When I first read the Ballroom manga, I had a theory that Chinatsu was a lesbian. It might not be the most open-minded assumption in the history of fan theories, but there was at least some justification for it: her initial fangirling over Sengoku is revealed to be a smokescreen for her obsession with Hongo (his total babe of a partner), and her rivalry with Akira has the faintest hint of yuri undertones to it, given their history as dance partners. Because of the anime’s faithfulness to the manga, I was reminded of that past speculation when watching these episodes, but something else jumped out at me, too – Chinatsu’s desire to be normal. In a quiet scene where she’s doing a bit of spring cleaning, she appears torn between repairing and giving away a pair of dancing heels, but when her mom asks whether she’s thinking of getting back into the sport, she recoils at the notion. Similarly, she initially mocks and rejects Tatara for his interest in ballroom dance, but agrees to practice with him even before roping him into a scheme to humiliate Akira.

The thing about Chinatsu is that she suffers from role confusion. Having been forced into the leading position in her juniors partnership, where girls dance together, she tends to take the lead in other situations, as well – but only if she gets a clear signal that it’s okay. So when Tatara confidently admits to the class that he participates in ballroom dance competitions, she keeps her passion hidden; but when he nervously abandons a request for her to practice with him, she coolly agrees, and steers the flow of their waltz to boot. Chinatsu wants to be normal, but she knows that leading isn’t “normal” for women, neither on nor off the dance floor, which results in that signature hot/cold personality. Tatara isn’t exactly charmed by it, asking himself some variation of, “What is with this girl?” probably ten times over the course of these two episodes. This became exasperating after a while, but I can understand his bewilderment, since Chinatsu is so different than either of the other partners he’s had thus far.

The conflict between our resident redhead and her old partner Akira was beautifully set up, with Tatara caught in the crossfire at his new part-time job. Seeing him standing diligently at attention in his spiffy new uniform, even after his boss told him to take it down a notch, got an audible laugh from me. The atmosphere in the café became a lot frostier once Chinatsu walked in the door, though, as Akira pays her ex-leader a series of scathing backhanded compliments, all while asserting her superiority as a dancer and a woman. Although she looks like a high school boy’s dream, Akira is more than capable of going for the jugular, and in her rush to scrape together a rebuttal, Chinatsu declares that she and Tatara will partner up and defeat her at the Mikasa Cup. Despite their incompatibility, they perform well at a qualifying novice round, but first place is snatched from them by a pair of dancers under the tutelage of Marisa Hyodo, who appears just before the credits roll. Always the provocateur, she accuses Tatara of forcing Chinatsu to do all the work in their routine, cementing his dawning realization that he doesn’t know how to properly lead. From this point on, the series will be intensely focused on his journey to understand both the rigid requirements of ballroom dance, and the thoughts and feelings that drive his new partner. Without spoiling anything, I can reveal that it’ll be a long time before he manages either task, so I hope you’re strapped in for the ride.

Posted on 28 September 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

We’ve reached the halfway point of Ballroom e Youkoso’s projected 24-episode run, and along with a new high school life for Fujita Tatara comes a new OP/ED combo. Unison Square Garden returns to do the intro for the second cour, and I’m loving the new song choice. Both openings have been serviceably energetic for a shounen series, but I prefer the backbeat-driven danceability of the new one to the vocal theatrics of the original. The new ED trades clever waltz-pop fusion for even more J-rock, though, which is a definite step down. One notable thing about both visual sequences is their heavy emphasis on Chinatsu, the redhead that we glimpsed last week and to whom we were briefly introduced this time around. The OP’s use of a thunderstorm as the setting for her dance with Tatara tells us everything we need to know about her personality, and the contentious relationship she’ll have with her eventual partner. But that’s a topic for another time, as the present episode features Gaju and even Sengoku more strongly than any one newcomer.

Unfortunately for our hero, Tatara’s first year at his new school doesn’t get off to the blossoming start he’d hoped for. The cute girl sitting in front of him mocks his hobby, which he was brave enough to mention during his class introduction, and a new gang of thugs recruit him to be their errand boy on day one. The poor kid just wanted to make some new friends in high school – he even thought to himself on the way to homeroom that five was plenty! A hooded figure appears to save him from a year of subservience, though, who is eventually revealed to be our favorite mullet-head Gaju. It’s great that the elder Akagi sibling happens to go to the same school, and that he properly befriends Tatara after beating up the bullies who were on his case, but I’d love to see Tatara meet new people or stand up for himself using some of the confidence he’s learned from dance. For now, though, I’m glad he’s got somebody he can talk to between classes, even if Gaju’s the kind of weirdo who gets upset that his sister has started wearing a bra. Anime keeping it classy as always.

Something I noticed while watching this episode were the minor tweaks Ballroom made to its characters in the move to its second cour. There’s been a bit of a timeskip since the Tenpei Cup, which could explain a slight shift in their attitudes, but it was still troubling to me in a couple spots. Gaju’s sheepishness when asking for Tatara’s cell number was one instance, since it doesn’t gel with his brash personality. It felt like the show was working overtime to make him sympathetic, since he functioned as a bully himself just a few weeks ago, but in most other scenes he was his usual hotheaded self. The bigger sin, from my perspective, was turning Shizuku into a blushing Tatara fan and beacon of encouragement. Her speech about enjoying the Tenpei Cup because of his presence bore zero resemblance to her ice queen demeanor at the event itself, and while we know that was just a façade, I don’t understand why she’d drop it so completely now. Nor am I able to grasp why she wants to compete with him again so badly, since she’s light years beyond his skill level. Their whole conversation was a setup for Tatara’s new goal of finding a partner and rising through the JDSF rankings, but Shizuku needn’t have become the Perfect Girl for that to be communicated.

The show’s second act was devoted to a professional dance competition where Sengoku (and his partner Chizuru) were the main attraction. Tatara and Gaju go to watch them perform, which is a rare opportunity now that he’s traveling abroad once more. There’s a distinct sense here that the world of Ballroom is expanding, as Tatara realizes that Sengoku spends most of his time overseas, being a major figure in the DanceSport world, and that it’s a miracle he managed to attract his attention. Tatara’s self-doubt comes to the forefront in this scene, leaving him unable to make eye contact with Sengoku as he leaves the floor, but as his former coach passes by, he instructs him to “watch closely.” What follows is an exhibition of skill that the show really needed to nail, and I think they pulled it off nicely. There were several clear, fluid dance sequences here, nestled amidst the disorienting effects used to illustrate Sengoku’s unorthodox movement. (Even the CG background dancers looked better than usual, although that could have been my imagination.) His performance is so captivating that a mob of screaming fans chase him as he leaves the arena, and who else should Tatara happen to spot among them but Chinatsu? Hearing her explain away that earlier dismissal of ballroom dancing ought to be good, but then, so will everything else involving her character – she’s my favorite!

Posted on 21 September 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

And so the Tenpei Cup comes to a close at last. It took five episodes to get from the first round to the awards ceremony, and not all parts of the competition were created equal, but I’m happy that my girl Mako managed to claim the Ballroom Queen award. After she received the trophy, there were several key players in the crowd who gave Tatara all the credit for leading so well, but I’m chalking that up to shounen hero bias. Mako is the more experienced dancer, with better form and greater stamina, and she’s one who managed to break up the Gaju/Shizuku pair and team with her brother once again. Despite everything that’s been said about their mismatched heights and skill levels, Gaju seemed relatively accepting of the situation (after pouting for a bit, that is), so we ought to see the Akagi siblings pairing together at future events.

Of course, Tatara played an important role in Mako’s victory, but his obvious fatigue and sloppy footwork helped to land them at the bottom of the finalist rankings, which translated to a 7th place finish out of 43 couples. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, considering it’s his first competition (if you don’t count his stint as Hyodo’s body double earlier in the series), but Tatara is ashamed, which is right in line with his character. Immediately after hearing that he hadn’t placed in the top two, he confessed to his coach that he’d been dwelling on his poor dancing abilities for the entire affair. There were tears in his eyes as he made that admission, which I felt were appropriate, but might have been more impactful if Ballroom hadn’t turned on the waterworks at least once a week for the entire Tenpei arc. All Sengoku could do was pat his head and tell him to take the floor with a smile, which he managed to accomplish. Given what we know about Tatara, though, this loss will weigh heavily on his mind for some time to come.

Tatara wasn’t the only character to be deeply upset by the final standings, however. Although Gaju and Shizuku placed first with ease, the loss to Mako in the Ballroom Queen category caused Shizuku no small amount of grief, as we learn from a brief post-competition scene where she cries quietly to herself in front of a restroom mirror. More interesting than her sadness, though, is her frustration, which shone through with the self-targeted accusation, “You’re terrible!” I’ve written a lot over the past few weeks about the similarities between Tatara and Mako, but this critical, unforgiving attitude is the first time I’ve picked up on a real link between Tatara and Shizuku. Their goals couldn’t be more different, but it’s possible that they share more narrative DNA than meets the eye. Both are newly partnerless, as well – could they possibly join forces for the upcoming DanceSport season?

If you watched past the ending credits this week, you were treated to a handful of scenes revolving around Tatara’s high school entrance exams. Near the end of the episode, as he and his dad celebrate his acceptance, a redheaded girl can be seen smiling and walking away from the jubilant pair, though the camera refuses to travel above her mouth. If you’re familiar with anime character introductions, you know that withholding part of someone’s face means they’re an important part of the story. Spoiler alert: this girl is Tatara’s new partner, not Shizuku. The redhead’s name is Chinatsu, and she’s my favorite character in the manga, which begins to focus on Tatara’s high school life after this point. I like Ballroom most when the characters are bouncing off one another outside the competitive setting, so hopefully the anime director has resisted the urge to truncate some of my favorite parts of the story. Fingers crossed!

Posted on 14 September 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

When I was a kid, my friends and I included my brother in our games, but only reluctantly. He was younger, smaller, and slower than all the other players, whether the contest was bike racing or tag or touch football. If I were a team captain, I’d be sure to pick him for my side, but not until the last round – I didn’t want to arm the neighborhood brats with any reason to pick on me. Obsessed with the safety of my own reputation, I failed to notice his embarrassment until years after that part of our lives had passed. You might imagine, then, that the scene in this episode where Gaju shooed Mako away from his grown-up kickball game sent a pang through my chest. Before this flashback, his primary role had been to mock his sister at every turn, but now we have another piece of the puzzle. Gaju was just another kid who put too much stock in the opinions of others, and he’s carried that concern with him into adolescence.

This week’s opening flashback consisted of more than just the kickball scene, though. It showed us how the Akagi siblings entered the world of ballroom dancing: through Mako’s repeated appeals to her beloved older brother, who eventually caved and became her partner. Gaju may have been ashamed at the idea of dancing at first, but his stubbornness prohibited him from quitting, and his natural athleticism allowed him to excel once he began competing. When that talent was noticed and praised by a judge at one of his first events, his switch was flipped – from that moment on, he was a dancer. This need for recognition is a much stronger motivation than wanting to surpass Hyodo or impress Shizuku, so it goes a long way in making Gaju a human character with internal drives and desires. Those desires were strong enough, though, that he began to heed the whispers of his classmates and the advice of his coach, all of whom assumed that he’d leave Mako behind one day, because she was holding him back.

Now that he’s found a better partner, then, how does Gaju feel in the wake of Mako’s heart-stopping waltz from the previous episode? He’s sufficiently distracted to make a small footwork error that all the dancers and judges in the room notice immediately, and upset enough to get teary-eyed at his failure when he leaves the floor. Most shounen-y of all, he gets angry to the point of punching himself in the jaw, ostensibly to refocus himself on the contest at hand. This scene was more than a little goofy, but it wasn’t bad enough to sap the goodwill that his backstory created. Gaju left his sister because he wanted to be the best (and the way the show frames it, he made the right call, at least from a competitive standpoint), so if he starts making silly footwork mistakes, he’s both letting down his new partner and dishonoring his old one. Luckily, Shizuku is there to pick up the slack as the Tenpei Cup moves into its final group stage.

With Hyodo in the crowd, Shizuku is still aiming to blow the doors off the place, even if she has nothing to prove at an unsanctioned competition like this one. We got a second flashback to one of her practice sessions with a much younger Hyodo, where he nonchalantly informed her that she was more of a rival than a partner in his eyes. This scene did a lot less for me than the carefully-structured opening sequence, but the memory is clearly a strong one for Shizuku, who goes into beast mode during the Slow Foxtrot and wins over the entire room, much as Mako did last week. Even Tatara is stunned, which is not a good look for an underdog trying to highlight his own partner’s appeal. The last segment of the competition will be the Quickstep, but even with Sengoku’s special variation in their back pockets, I’ve got a bad feeling about the outcome of this competition for the exhausted Tatara/Mako pair. With Shizuku on fire and Gaju having found his footing once again, our heroes still have a mountain to climb, and only one dance left with which to do it.

Posted on 6 September 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

For the last month or so, Ballroom e Youkoso has been keenly interested in expanding and developing its cast of characters. Even with the introduction of the Tenpei Cup, most of the show’s dramatic moments have been rooted in something deeper than dance, be it feelings of inadequacy, a bitter sibling feud, or a budding attraction to a partner or competitor. This episode was a payoff for a lot of the conflict and struggle we’ve witnessed until this point, but it also functioned as a straightforward sports anime, and those aren’t necessarily my favorite. The constant crowd reactions, the special technique names, and the 20-minute runtime that covered five minutes of action all recalled a barrage of lesser series that Ballroom needn’t have imitated at this stage of the game. Luckily, this episode was concerned primarily with honoring Mako, whose transformation from timid duckling to blossoming rose kept the half hour afloat.

The particularly impressive thing about Tatara and Mako’s performance this week was that they rehearsed for only a few minutes before the finals started, and without a particular set of steps in mind. That’s just as well, because Sengoku’s assumption that the Quickstep would be the last hurdle was foiled by Marisa, who convinced the judge to pivot to the Waltz at the last minute. We still don’t know the precise cause of the animosity between these two – the smart money is on her displeasure with Sengoku coaching someone besides her son, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she’s his former coach, or if you want to get really soapy, an ex-lover (even if she’s ~15 years his senior, I could see it happening). Whatever the reason for their bickering, Sengoku ends up with egg on his face, but the brief practice session between his pupils pays big dividends when they hit the floor.

Last week I wrote about DanceSport couples being graded largely on the skill of their male halves, and this time we heard the same thing straight from the mouth of a judge. Tatara and Mako’s partner-centric performance, though, creates a difficult task for their evaluators, who are so mesmerized by Mako that they forget to observe her leader. The show’s limited animation makes it hard to decipher what part Tatara has in this captivating routine, so it falls back on phrases like “Throwaway Oversway from a Double Turning Lock” and “Same Foot Lunge to Right Leg Develope,” which might as well be wrestling terms for all I know. The constant crowd reactions clue us in to the originality and impressiveness of their performance, but they do a poor job of keeping us involved in the scene (even if I got a laugh from the comment that Tatara was “too bland” for Mako). Putting the peanut gallery aside, though, there were two major characters whose impressions of this scene really sold it for me.

The first was Hyodo, who knows just by looking that Mako has worked her ass off to achieve her silhouette. This was a particularly important observation for the show to make, because it tells us that her overwhelming appeal is due to her own effort, rather than yet another aspect of Tatara’s genius. There’s no doubt that he played a role in “making her bloom,” as she requested just moments earlier, because Mako thinks to herself during their routine that he’s providing a solid frame. But in the end, all eyes are on her, including Gaju’s, and it’s his stunned response to his sister’s waltz that matters more than anyone else’s. Ballroom chose to repeat and expand on a previous flashback in this episode, which established Mako as unwilling to express herself for fear of “getting in the way” of her irritable brother. By contrast, she comes alive in Tatara’s arms, not because he’s a better leader than Gaju, but because his biggest concern is that Mako shines. And shine she does – her brother can hardly believe that the radiant young woman on the dance floor is his former partner, and he’s probably kicking himself for failing to bring out this side of her. This is the biggest payoff the show has offered so far, but despite Tatara and Mako’s happiness at having danced so well, it’s not as though they’ve won the event. Gaju and Shizuku are up next, and the continued partnership of both couples is still on the line heading into the next episode. Whichever pair emerges with the Tenpei Cup in hand, though, Mako achieved a significant victory with her performance this week.

Posted on 31 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

Here are a few reasons why Hyodo Kiyoharu was the MVP of this week’s episode: he noticed Tatara’s fatigue and flat-footedness before the kid’s own coach. He kept his cool while everyone else was busy flinging petty insults or embroiling themselves in love pentagons, and provided his rival with both straight talk and sound advice. He watched his mom flirt unashamedly with a guy nearly twice her age, and somehow managed to retain his dignity. He managed to motivate someone as talented as Shizuku to dance her best with his mere presence. And he looked fly as hell with his sweater robe and crutch, even amidst a sea of tailcoats and bowties. If I were a judge at the Tenpei Cup, I’d call off the competition and just award Hyodo the trophy.

Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to evaluate ballroom dancing (or men’s fashion) – only to talk about Japanese cartoons. So despite Hyodo’s greatness, there’s one scene I really want to focus on this week, and that’s the moment when Sengoku instructs Tatara not to do the special Quickstep variation they’d been practicing for weeks. Even without seeing his pupil gasp for breath in the corner of the room just moments beforehand, Sengoku knows that Hyodo is right about his exhaustion. Tatara is already on the floor by the time he can speak with him, though, so Sengoku is forced to shout across the hall not to use their trump card (which would likely result in his collapse). What follows is dead silence, and eventually a shot of Tatara, who looks exhausted and embarrassed, but more than that, he looks crushed. He’s upset that his coach doesn’t believe in him, even though he’s shaking and sweating and barely maintaining his hold on his partner. This is a boy with prior self-image issues being told to alter his routine to account for his lack of experience and stamina; it’s no wonder he sobs and collapses in Sengoku’s arms after his neutered performance.

I’m glad that Ballroom continues to expose this side of Tatara, even if the results are sometimes hard to watch, because it makes him more human even as the shounen clichés pile around him. The Destined Rivals bit that he and Hyodo have going on is farfetched, though the show played it well this week by making Kiyoharu the voice of reason during an emotional scene. “Reality” is the title of this episode, and Tatara’s reality, as explained by his rival, is that he can’t possibly beat Gaju given his current lack of talent and conditioning. The solution is to allow Mako to outperform Shizuku, and that’s a plan I couldn’t be happier with, especially after two months of hearing that the man leads and the woman follows, the pair’s score is largely determined by the leader, etc. I don’t doubt the truth of those statements, since ballroom dancing is quite traditional, but when Mako asks Tatara to “make me bloom” at the episode’s end, it feels great to know that she’s allowing herself to command some attention for a change. That final line also carries with it a hint of romance, given the sensual connotation that blooming holds. Sengoku teased the two kids about a potential relationship midway through the proceedings this week, so I expect that their partnership may become a bit more complicated in the future.

Love is in the air for several other characters, as well, but Shizuku’s crush is the most interesting. She looked stunned after seeing Hyodo at the Tenpei Cup, perhaps for the first time since his hospitalization, which is a total reversal from her invulnerable attitude just hours earlier. Tatara tries to explain away Hyodo’s strategy as a plan to separate her from Gaju, but she still feels him slipping away, as she did back in episode two. Her resolve now is to impress her former partner, which is an okay development in my book. This is an unsanctioned event with nothing on the line for a seasoned pro like Shizuku, so what’s the harm in a little showmanship for the sake of the boy she likes? Besides, her desire to impress Kiyoharu is tied to her need to reach his skill level, and prove to upstarts like Tatara that you can’t waltz into this scene and start winning trophies left and right – pun very much intended.

Posted on 22 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

I spent the majority of the previous review breaking down a single scene, so let’s play catch-up for a bit. This episode features the Tenpei Cup, an annual event held by some rich dance enthusiast. Despite not being an official competition, the stakes are high: if the fledgling pair of Tatara and Mako can outplace Gaju and Shizuku (who are favored to win), Gaju will be forced to take back his sister as his partner. Thankfully, Sengoku has given his full support to his new student, having supplied him with a new tailcoat and a strategy to impress the head judge during the Quickstep round. It’s a relief that Sengoku has quit trying to embarrass and discourage the impressionable Tatara, who needs all the support he can get, given his lack of self-confidence.

Regarding that timid streak, this episode didn’t bring it across as well as the last one. During his previous phone call with Mako, we got a clear picture of how unworthy Tatara felt, both as a dancer and as a young man. This time, he was a simple scaredy-cat, begging his coach not to put him back on the floor after nearly every round, then finding his groove again once the dancing started. I get that the major story of Ballroom is Tatara’s journey to find himself, but we don’t need a miniature version of that arc every six minutes. The show even commented on this practice through Sengoku, who quickly became fed up with what he described as a “rollercoaster mentality.” It’s good that the writers aren’t totally clueless, I guess, but the show’s awareness of the problem doesn’t make it any less boring to watch.

Thankfully, the episode really picked up during its second half, especially after a dance floor collision between Tatara and Gaju. We never got a definitive answer on whether Tatara purposely engineered the crash, but after he watched Gaju and Shizuku steal the show during the second round, I’m choosing to believe that he made a conscious decision to level the playing field by drawing attention to himself. The waiting room confrontation that ensued was highly dramatic, with all the yelling, punching, and crying that you expect from shounen anime. I liked almost everything about it, though. Gaju is a very believable villain, whose insensitivity and tendency to belittle others read like those of a real high schooler. When Mako hits him and runs off crying, it’s at the perfect point in the conversation. My favorite part of the scene, though, came immediately afterward.

When Shizuku sees her teary-eyed competitor flee the scene and asks what all the fuss is about, it comes out that Tatara thinks there’s a chance that Mako will surpass her. At this point, I fully expected the older girl to berate Gaju for mistreating his totemo kawaii imouto~ and run off to make sure Mako was okay, at which point we’d get a scene where the girls talk about how boys are stupid. Instead, Shizuku walks right up to Tatara, gives him an icy stare, says, “Don’t underestimate me,” snaps his bowtie, and walks away. I think I’m in love. After receiving precisely zero speaking lines in last week’s script, Shizuku was due for her moment in the spotlight, and she certainly got it here. Part of me hopes that she still checked on Mako after she was through being a badass, but the version of the argument that we got was the best possible way the scene could have played out.

The story wraps with the introduction of Marisa Hyodo, mother of Tatara’s destined rival. Before she was revealed as a guest judge for the semifinals of the Tenpei Cup, we got a car scene between Marisa and Kiyoharu, who don’t seem to be the closest of parent-child duos. As we might expect from a superstar of the dance world, she works constantly and doesn’t see much of her son, but what’s worse is that she rationalizes her absence by declaring him the type who “likes being alone.” Ballroom is full of parents and authority figures who are less supportive than they ought to be, although I suppose it wouldn’t be anime if it weren’t. When the Hyodos appear at the very end of the episode, Sengoku looks like a kid who’s been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar – does he have an agreement with Marisa not to train anyone except her son, or is there some history between them that we don’t know about? Guess we’ll find out next week.

Posted on 14 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my desire for the show to continually check in with Shizuku’s character – not just to put her on screen, but to show us how she’s thinking and feeling, now that her previous partner is sidelined and her new one clearly wants to be partners in more than one sense. In the fourteen days since the last episode, I developed the expectation that I wouldn’t be wild about this new installment unless Shizuku was a major part of it. And while she did make an appearance, both in the present day and in a flashback, she didn’t have a single line of dialogue, plus she was subjected to some heavy objectification on Gaju’s end. Why, then, was I so happy with Ballroom this week? I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this review, you’ve already seen the episode, so we’re skipping any sort of plot summary and moving straight to my favorite scene, which came near the end of our 22 minutes.

When Tatara comes home from a grueling practice session with Mako, he’s greeted by two things: popped blisters on his feet, and the sound of his father’s drunken phone conversation. The lights are off, and as he passes by his dad, Tatara hears him say, “He’s such a hopeless kid.” Let’s stop right there for a second and consider how dark this scene is. The blisters are, to Tatara, a symbol of his inadequacy, since he thinks to himself that experienced dancers would never have such a problem. So, he’s entering his home with the thought in his head that he’s not good enough, and on the way to his room he hears the only parent in his life confirm his self-diagnosis – talk about mental damage. Until this episode, Tatara’s home life had been portrayed as a happy one, featuring bright mealtime scenes and his dad functioning as a concerned, but understanding, parent. Here we see the exact opposite, and to make things even worse (or so it seems), the person on the other end of the call is Mako.

It turns out she’s been dealing with blisters, too, and her first instinct is to apologize for her lousy dancing. Like Tatara, she lacks confidence, and they take turns apologizing and deflecting until he decides to share that his parents are divorced. The show uses this fact to explain his commitment to restoring the Hyodo/Shizuku and Gaju/Mako dance partnerships, but Mako sees that resolve as a part of his character, and starts to gush about how thoughtful he is. This was the make-or-break moment for the scene, because anime often falls into the trap of praising their heroes for being sooo thoughtful and sooo nice, as opposed to creating stories that allow them to demonstrate those qualities in an authentic way. But Ballroom leapt over this pitfall by contrasting Mako’s opinion of her new partner with his own self-perception. As she assures him that everyone at Ogasawara is watching and admiring his progress, Tatara wonders to himself whether he’s worthy of their gaze. He feels thankful that anyone notices him at all, and considers it a miracle that any girl would want to dance with him.

This is real shit. These are the naked thoughts of a kid from a divorced family, who doesn’t like school, considers himself to be untalented, and comes home to a father who self-medicates with alcohol. As Mako expresses her wish that he’ll keep dancing, we get a shot of Tatara’s feet – they’re the only place he can bear to look, given how foreign and inappropriate her praise must seem. But although his voice is small when he manages to find it again, he says thank you. He’s accepted guidance from coaches and challenges from rivals in the past, but now he accepts the kindness of someone who really respects him, and maybe likes him a little bit. Both kids are blushing by the end of the conversation, and it’s worth noting that Mako must have asked somebody at the dance studio for his phone number in order to make the call, so rumors about the pair may already be buzzing. I’m not totally on board the Tatara/Mako ship just yet, but I couldn’t be happier about the way they serve as anchors for each other in the harsh world of competitive dance.

There was more to the new episode than just this scene, but I’ve written enough as it is. Next week’s Ballroom will feature the Tenpei Cup, with our main couples going head-to-head, so I’ll try to integrate some of the stuff I didn’t cover this time into that post. Feels good to be back on the Ballroom bandwagon (at least for now).

CHANGE USERNAME
AidanAK47
Damn it. Didn't get Scathach. I knew my chances were low but...still feels bad.
SuperMario
Finally back after several days that I didn't feel like blogging at all. Hope that was just a small slump of burnout and nothing too serious
SuperMario
@Kaiser: agree with you on On Body and Soul, the otherworldly dream sequences are the best part, the romance is so-so and the investigation is fairly weak that I still don't know its importance to the story
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: It was you that got me to watch it actually, your posts.
Lenlo
@Kaiser I am glad you think so on Inuyashiki. Ive loved every episode of it so far
Kaiser-Eoghan
But Dies Irae is the best comedy of the season.....
Kaiser-Eoghan
Unless he means Kino? In that case I've never read the novels.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Juuni taisen is also better watched as it expands on its source material.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If you mean girls last tour then thats better off watched too as its more immersive that way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Inuyashiki is a definite watch as the pacing is much better than the manga, houseki elevates its source visually so theres that.
Amagi
@Anon: It really depends on the series. If you mean a current anime, then watch. Because the current season is full of good manga adaptions (if you mean Dies Irea, then read)
Amagi
I am not even one of those who condemn fanservice in anime like Illya for example, but this.. welp. Guess I rather watch the new MahouTsukai episode now.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Why do they want to do that? I don't think this is a good idea. Man the whole world seems to go back instead of going forward the last yers
Amagi
Seems like it was actually 5 child prostitutes that's even worse. Maybe not even that but just school girls I can't into kanji and I only see the *chan thread right now.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Apparently in France they want to lower the age of consent now. They are also still protecting Polanski.
Amagi
Kaiser-Eoghan: Just saw it too, just wanted to see if the Kenshin mangaka thread was still there and now this too.
Anonymous1582168
Watch or read? Which do you recommend more?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: I see Toriko's author was caught with teenage prostitutes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And now I'm thinking, some of my enjoyment of the original Kino was partly due to watching it dubbed.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Its is true that I would prefer kino to go deeper than it is allowed to.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: mild Asperger syndrome , in my case its a touch discomfort thing.
Amagi
Also, damn - I just a saw a thread regarding the Kenshin thing
Amagi
@Kaiser-Eoghan: Agree with Kino, there are a few things I prefer in the older version too. Although I have to admit that many plot points I would have viewed as deep 10 years ago feel very simplistic and naive by now, like how simple minded the people are, especially if plot dictates them to be. Welp. Also, there is another autist here?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Maybe not, but you'd probably do well to watch the show.
Anonymous1581844
@Kaiser-Eoghan: Is Weed really for kid though? -.- Also, the pups are cuter in this one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: Bitches don't know about my Ginga densetsu weed =P
Niello
This is very much a kid version of Wolf's Rain.
Niello
I finally found this thing. Been looking for it for years. The problem now is even if I know the name it's going to be hard to find a way to watch this thing again... https://myanimelist.net/anime/3355/Fortune_Dogs
Kaiser-Eoghan
The Kenshin author was caught with images of child sex abuse. Things have turned into a fallout since the Weinstein case.
Lenlo
I like to keep deadlines. Adds some consistency to things. Appreciate it though
Anonymous1581244
@Lenlo: No need to apologize lol. I don't think anyone expects you to drop everything in order to blog. XD Just do what you can and keep up the great work. d=(^_^)=b
Lenlo
Sorry for the slow turnaround on Mahoutsukai this week. Moving into a new apartment and work is abit busy. Should be up tomorrow though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I dug the premise and though there could have been more dream sequences its prettily shot, especially within those sequences, I was surprised by the suicide attempt and didn’t see it coming and it succeeded in being uncomfortable.
Although I did find the film sometimes a bit sterile and overlylong
Kaiser-Eoghan
@@Mario: I'm torn on Body and soul, speaking as someone who has autism, I genuinely felt that the depiction of the female protagonist was solid and was backed by good acting, as autism is generally overly associated with male characters, seeing it through a female focus was a bonus.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its an odd season, with shows I had no expectations of being favourites and one I looked forward to being a disappointment.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I know we mentioned before on here but I honestly did wish that one episode, the 6th one WAS an additional backstory, it would have elevated the episode for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The original had a grittier artstyle that clashed less with the setting.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I do think some of these episodic shows could benefit from two parters, this kino season especially.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But its not a good sign when I forgot some episodes content of this new adaptation less than a week after their airing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I don't say it lightly about the original having a strong degree of consistent quality, even the best episodic series often can't avoid being uneven but again I never felt the original ever fell into that trap .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its the consistency I miss in this version, I enjoyed all the episodes in the original, this being more of a mixed bag sticks out like a sore thumb.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Want to specify I did love the Murder country episode and the Liar country episode, the ship country episode was an episode of two halves, the latest episode was too slight .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Honestly I think I'll play it safe with the new Kino and just wait till it ends and pick the most recommended stories.
Anonymous1580206
The ED of Silver Spoon Season 1 is also amazing.
SuperWooper
"Fighter" by Bump of Chicken is the best I've heard in the last few years (3-gatsu ED 1)
SuperWooper
"Ride on Shooting Star" by The Pillows is my favorite (FLCL)
Nie
Also Akatsuki no Yona ending https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nepa6vDr-gM
Nie
Seriously though, Freedom Opening is too underappreciated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbIy0zMukn4
Nie
if not just song then: Eden of the East, ERASED, both SSY EDs, FMA ED2, Welcome to NHK, Kekkai Sensen, Conan 40
Kaiser-Eoghan
Honestly I skip the op/ed themes for everything, there are some I haven't even heard.
SuperMario
@anon1579752: personally don't care much about EDs, since I hit the close button as soon as the episode's over. But this one is easy, Flowers of Evil ED
Anonymous1579752
321...best anime EDs of all time...GO
Nielo
Oops nvm IGNORE MY COMMENT
Nielo
@KTravlos: Which part of Chielo? How many heads?
KTravlos
Finally a great Altair episode. For once the pacing was a boon rather than a bane, and I loved the idea of Chielo.
Nielo
I have the Vagabond volumes...still haven't touch it. I just don't feel like starting another manga I'll have to wait forever.
Lenlo
Vagabonds only issue, to me, is the lack of release. I love it, its beautiful, and my god I have waited years for it to update. Its like Berserk all overagain
Kaiser-Eoghan
If I could changed something about kujira no kora, it would be toning down that overthetop shounen-kid villain henchman.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel as if I would read more of vagabond if the author ever finished it, the art however is beautiful.
KTravlos
A thing I really like about there stuff is that since they are set post-One Year War, most characters are veterans and they actually behave like veterans. Thus battles are more than just curbstomps etc. I really suggest their gundam stuff. Manga wise start with the Plot to Assassinate Gihren.
KTravlos
I have to say the ARK Performance gundam-verse is one of the favorite uses of the gundam concept . They really do a good job tying their stories together and with the original series.
Lenlo
If were talking manga as well, since I dont realy VNs/LNs, Vinland Saga, Vagabond, Berserk and Basara are all way up there for me
Anonymous1579124
I can probably disect pages on end of Kyousougiga. As for Sun Knight, it's translated from Taiwanese, so the chance of it getting an anime is a big fat zero. Not to mention that it is probably one of the hardest thing to translate into video format, movies or series, animated or not.
Anonymous1579124
@SuperMario Animation vs. Animator?
SuperMario
Kyousougiga was a creative and passionate anime. You can clearly see the love of the creators put into it. But of the year 2013 nothing can beat The Eccentric Family and Flowers of Evil for me
SuperMario
@Niello: I'm willing to give Sun Knight and Dorohedoro (or I should wait for the anime adaptation in few years?) a try but not anytime soon. My next of queue is Night is Short and re-watch of Now and Then. Sorry if I sound like a broken records but lately I haven't had that much time for myself.
SuperMario
..."Mario, what the heck is this??". so we stopped. My friends weren't trying to be rude so I didn't feel any offense, but the thought of watching a stick figure never cross their mind, hence the reaction. Anime fares much better in that regards since people still willing to watch it
SuperMario
(about people's hesitance towards animation medium): Tell me about it. Few years ago I had a Saturday movie night with my mates, one time I convinced them to watch a short animated film "Come one, it's one of the best thing I've seen this year" "It's only 15 minutes so you guys can watch them easily". So they agreed but as soon as the stick figure comes onscreen. My friend turned off...
Anonymous1578845
Lol just found out that there's a Sense8 (on Netflix) easter egg in "Just Because" ep 3 xD, made my day!!!!
Anonymous1578826
Forgot to say this, but anyone willing to give the Sun Knight novel a try, in some ways, it is quite similar to Houseki no Kuni. While it is mainly comedy....it also has a lot of suffering.
silver
@Niello/Anaon1578774?: I watched Kyousougiga maybe 6mos. ago, so I think I'll enjoy it more when I rewatch it sometime in a year or so. Seems most of my top picks cemented their place after a second viewing
Anonymous1578774
@Silver It speaks to me on a personal level no other fiction has comes close to matchin. so it has a very special place in my heart. It's also one of those that get better with each rewatch. I seem to have a penchant for liking what often get described by others as convoluted, this is one of them. I also adore Matsumoto's directing and all the symbolisms.
silver
@Kaiser: I neglected film in my youth as well.. and also in adulthood. A popular gag amongst my friends is that, "silver's never seen any movie ever." I hadn't seen star wars until a girl I dated in uni forced me to watch 4-6...
silver
Hah when I posted about liking works adapted from every medium I wondered if it was going to spark a 'top 10' discussion, but when I was trying to mentally rank them I remembered how hard it was...
@Niello: interesting that Kyousougiga is your all-time #1. I thought it was lovely but probably doesn't make the cut for me
Kaiser-Eoghan
Novels are somewhat alien territory to me as I tend to watch adaptations be they film or otherwise.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: I've watched thousands in the past few years because I neglected the medium in childhood.
Nielllo
Unless you mean animated only.
Nielllo
@Eoghan: I don't think I watched enough films at all, and that's made even worst when I forget most of them after a couple of years.
Nielllo
@SuperMario: I really recommend The Legend of the Sun Knight novel. Think it's something you'll probably enjoy quite a bit. It's quite cleverly written. You can read the official fan translation online.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: A top ten film list for me is even harder, I can't even attempt.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Akumetsu> death note
FITE ME.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Gunslinger girl gets such a strong mention from me because I feel that action stories often work better when you care about the characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
<No Freesia adaptation
<No Eden adaptation
<No full production IG Alita film series
<why live =<
Nielllo
@SuperMario: There are some anime I'm not going to watch just because the manga is superior, period. Good examples are Monster and One Piece.
Nielllo
@Eoghan: Oh, I knew about Wolfram mangaka's apprenticeship already :p
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: First however, When mountains may depart, By Jia Zhangke, I am full romance mood.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Planetes and Vinland saga have to go somewhere on a list. Oddly they share the same creator.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Reminds me Dreams by Kim-ki-duk.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: I mentioned Dorohedoro's author was Nihei's apprentice, but heres another interesting one, the mangaka for Wolfram apprentice under BOTH Kento Miura and Kaoru Mori.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: gladly. On Body and Soul is a weird mix of romance drama, character study and a weirdly magical bond between two people who share the same dream. That weirdness is what make the movie so memorable, although I do feel the ending stays out its welcome
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nihei, Umezu and Itou belong somewhere among my favourite mangaka.
SuperMario
I don't know why you'd mix manga/anime together, but my own top 10 is in my profile (click over my username), I've included anime/ movies together but if the list is purely anime shows I'd add Haibane Reimen as #9 and Humanity Has Declined as #10
Nielllo
Apart from Kyousougiga which is always no.1, and The Legend of the Sun Knight, Dorohedoro, Shinsekai Yori and Monster whose places are swappable, the rest I'm quite flexible with. Saint Seiya is in if it's a favorite list, and out among the bottom of the barrel when it comes to quality list, with the exception of The Lost Canvas.
Nielllo
Hmmm, atm it's 1. Kyousougiga (a) 2. Monster (m) 3. Dorohedoro (m) 4. Shinsekai Yori (n) 5. Baccano! (a) 6. Ran to Haiiro no Sekai (m) 7. Saint Seiya (my guilty pleasure, I can't defend it in anyway) 8. Franken Fran (m) 9. The Legend of the Sun Knight (n)(1st tier comedy) 10. Haibane Renmei/Toradora!.Honorable mentions to Gamaran, Beck, GTO, Mushishi, Kaiba and Grave of the Fireflies.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Damn....its a harder question to answer than it looks =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although Cruel God reigns in heaven would com close.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nah, nothing would dethrone Gunslinger girl for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or even Utena but I feel it somewhat overated as I do Bebop despite enjoying both.
Kaiser-Eoghan
One of those on the top ten could easily be switched for honey and clover.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also love the works of Shimura Takkako, early takahashi and early Clamp.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Shiki would work its way onto a recent favourites list.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My favourite visual novels are Kara no shoujo, saya no uta and Sharin no kuni.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've a soft spot for ah my goddess, basara, 7 seeds , nanoha and Red river.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If I was making more modern lists for recent favourites I'd probably add flipflappers somewhere or yuasas works.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh my top ten by mixing manga and anime into the same list? 1. Gunslinger (both) girl 2. Ghost in the shell (anime) 3. Earl cain saga (manga) 4. Angel Sanctuary (manga) 5. Texhnolyze (anime) 6. Lain (anime) 7. Perfect blue (anime) 8. Fruits basket (manga) 9. Monster 10. Kare kano.
Nielllo
I don't think anything will ever dethrone Kyousougiga for me though.
Nielllo
I still need to watch Tatami Galaxy and a bunch of other staple shows...
Lenlo
We could put out a site-author Top 10 list sometime maybe... Some of mine are Mushishi, Steins;Gate, Tatami Galaxy and Your Lie in April. Its got a spectrum of genre.
Nielllo
So what are people's top 10?
silver
Certainly on my top 10 list I have works adapted from VNs, manga, novels, LNs, and originals. I just think originals have a higher rate of efficient visual storytelling compared to adaptations
silver
@Kaiser: I like SEL and Haibane and texhnolyze is on my ever-growing list of things to watch. I also really like Gurren Lagen and Kill la Kill although they're both better if you've seen enough anime to know what they're parodying. My ex who loathed most anime because of the aforementioned over-exposition issue also introduced me to Dennou Coil which I really enjoyed.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Body and soul just got released on a webdl , sell me on the film if you can =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Silver: Texhnolyze/Lain/Haibane are excellent examples.
silver
I think original anime offers a different experience than adaptations, particularly regarding 'show don't tell.' By necessity most anime source material is dialogue and exposition heavy and can't always utilize the medium efficiently. Of course, I've watched masterpieces adapted from every kind of source, so it's all good
Niello
I'd love to see this thing animated some day. Preferably with movie budget: http://thepropertyofhate.com/TPoH/Ex position/312
Niello
@Eoghan: Try searching in some Asian languages and you might have better luck.
silver
Most open-minded people I talk with don't have anything against animated entertainment. Shows like Bob's Burgers, Archer, and Bojack Horseman have carved a modern niche for 'adult' animation. Having a show about talking alcoholic horse would be pretty cheesy with live action.
Niello
Never mind, Mario said it. But I also don't agree that idol shows or incest shows are intrinsically bad. On top of idol being a trend in Japan first and anime pick it up because it's part of the culture.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The reason people see the worst side of things, is because that is what is made most on the surface and immediate,
Niello
@Amagi: Considering that all the ones you listed are originally manga, I think you should give manga more credit...
Kaiser-Eoghan
And by finding I mean, hard to buy or torrent .
Kaiser-Eoghan
The infuriating thing is how poorly distributed some things are. I hate seeing Godammn blurays of shit hollywood films everywhere and I have to struggle to find some old/quality eastern film.
Amagi
I think it's the same problem as with endless shounen. Sometimes series get dragged on purpose to make more money.
Amagi
The tons of seasons is what scares me away sometimes
Kaiser-Eoghan
I keep thinking, why pad a 90 minute-9 1/2 hour story in a billion one hour per episode seasons.
Amagi
Yeah it's always like that, with cinema movies too.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also hate ensemble/mosaic storytelling for the larger part, with some exceptions.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I know this excuse won't work with people who love serialized live-action tv dramas but...I don't like most tv shows because of how padded they are and that they go on far too long and the acting is tv standard and not film standard.
Lenlo
I dont want TV that much, but my experience has been there are very few shows worth watching. Just like anime.
Lenlo
Well, in the argument that anime has alot of bad trends to, I would say so does regular television. How many TVs per year are as good/acclaimed in the "best" anime of each season are in the community?
Amagi
I think it's just sad that there are so many people (the big majority) that refuse to watch cartoons in general because they consider them as either childish or a worse version of "real" series. They'll always miss the good sides anime/manga have and therefore certain sub-genres as a whole.
Amagi
@SuperMario: Yeah you're right. I should have specified it to Japanese drawn media in general (VNs too). And yeah most anime/manga are rather trashy or blatantly bad. But the good series are often something live acting can't create and we'd miss without Japan. There are good cartoons too, though
SuperMario
... original ones: Cowboy Bebop, EVA, Flip Flappers, Kaiba, etc
SuperMario
@amagi: I almost agree with everything you said, but we might give anime too much credits. Remember it's a medium that responsible for many, many bad trends: idol shows, incest shows, tentacle hentai shows and so on so forth. The shows you listed here are come from manga as well, and they are strong manga materials to begin with. If I choose an example of what anime can achieve I'd point to some..
Amagi
This season is really good and it shows how lacking fiction would be without anime. Stuff like Shuumatsu, Houseki or even Mahoutsukai can only exist as anime. It's something live acting script writers would never come up with, not to mention that a lot would be lost without the respective drawing styles, be it the moe blobbs of Shuumatsu or the CGI hair, grass and camera movement of Houseki.
KTravlos
btw I really liked this Mahoutsukai no Yome episode. Finally we are getting somewhere
Amagi
@Kaiser: You're right, totally forgot that. Looking forward to this. Also I could have sworn I heard about a new project from Iso (Dennou Coil) last year but I guess I either confused him with someone else or with Children of Ether in which he's involved in some kind of way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: That series was going to be devilman crybaby .
Amagi
Wasn't Yuasa also doing a series of some sort this year? Haven't watched the movies yet but I loved most of his stuff so far, with Kaiba being my favorite.
Anonymous1575628
Wow, Houseki did not disappoint for me this week.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I enjoyed it for what it was. But I'd say even if you didn't read the subs you probably wouldn't have much trouble following it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I actually had a look and lu over the wall, coincidentally , there are moments of where Yuasa's imagination/visuals shine through and its a genuinely charming film at times, but it does almost outstay its welcome and there's a sense Yuasa was somewhat restrained this time round, it IS a kids movie and that kind of does need to be taken into account, its not AS mad as mind game or kemonozume.
Amagi
Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta is subbed, but no idea if the subs are good
Kaiser-Eoghan
And its quite natural.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Florida project succeeds through its free flowing nature/narrative and manages to be hilarious all the while managing to never allow you forget its also a kitchen sink drama, the best performances come from William Dafoe and the girl. At the end it gut punches the audience emotionally.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: also expecting Florida Project, 3 Billboards, and The Shape of Water in my end
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh, Kino was a bit too slight this week.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Just Lu, disaster artist and happy end left now for the year. Maybe the new Godzilla.
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Featured Posts

Juuni Taisen – 08 [In Like a Dragon, Out Like a Snake (Part 2)]

Can’t say I am fond of a huge flashback where they advance almost nothing to the plot, let alone an extended flashback-within-a-flashback. It hurts as well as the production takes quite a disastrous turn this week, with many off-model and inconsistent animation. Haizz, I’d love to be proven wrong but so far Juuni Taisen has […]

Houseki no Kuni – 07 [Hibernation]

Ho boy, I know Houseki’s world-building is unique but the idea of gems’ hibernation in winter due to the lack of sunlight? What a creative idea it is. This winter landscape makes a nice contrast to the lively green field of grass we’ve encountered in previous episodes. The new world that feels both empty, vast […]

Dies Irae – 06[Golden Beast]

So here we have it, the best we are going to get from this series. We may get standout moments in the later parts of the story but I think this episode is as good as it gets. The adaption still isn’t what I would call good, and oddly enough the best parts of this […]

Mahoutsukai no Yome – 7 [Talk of the Devil, and He is Sure to Appear]

Hello and welcome to another week of Mahoutsukai. This a good week for us, as Chise becomes more independent, Elias hulks out and information comes to light about the Sorcerers dark plot. Lets jump in. To start off, let’s talk about Chise. Compared to the first episode, she is like a different person now. She […]

Kino’s Journey -The Beautiful World- – 07[Historic Country]

Let me start this post by saying that this is indeed a fun episode of Kino. Once again the mantle of protagonist is taken from the duo and instead it’s Kino’s Master who leads this episode. Though the story is told by Kino as she approaches the country that is in the story. It is […]

Girls’ Last Tour – 07 [Labyrinth – Cooking]

After one of the most plot-heavy episode last week, Girls’ Last Tour goes back to its minimalist root this time, with only the girls and two interior settings. This could be Girls’ Last Tour’s simplest episode, with the plot can be summed up as those girls go to the ration production facility, at first slightly […]

Inuyashiki – 6 [People of 2chan]

This week Inuyashiki fulfills last weeks predictions in a rather unexpected way. Strap in for some suicide, mass murder and the tail-spin of everyone’s favorite sociopath. Lets jump in! Rather than being a parallel between our two heroes like usual, this episode is focused almost entirely on Hiro. To me, this episode hits loosely on […]

Juuni Taisen – 07 [In Like a Dragon, Out Like a Snake (Part 1)]

For a character who officially dead before Juuni Taisen started (and thus, render him “useless” to win the tournament), Snake is surprisingly one of the most fearsome warrior of the race so far. He assisted Rabbit to kill Boar in the first episode, he cornered Rat to every holes Rat could hide, he KILLED Horse, […]

Dies Irae – 04/05[Spider/Reunion]

Forgive my tardiness in not covering Dies Irae last week. I had a few things going on and a serious lack of motivation. I am certain all two of you(Might be an overexpression of the number) that read these Dies Irae reviews were deeply disappointed. We have two episodes this week, one which was rather […]

Latest Reviews

The Reflection Review – 45/100

The superhero genre has been undergoing a surge in popularity in recent years. From the Marvel movies in the West to anime series like My Hero Academia in the East, super heroes are everywhere.  As such, for good or ill, it was inevitable that we would get a merging of the two. The Reflection is […]

Made in Abyss Review – 91/100

There are few series which can capture the mystery and wonder of a fantasy world as well as Made in Abyss. Their world is dangerous, brutal and unforgiving but beautiful, wondrous and exciting in it’s presentation. The story is of a ordinary girl called Riko and a mysterious cyborg boy called Regu traveling down the […]

Classroom of the Elite (Summer 2017) Review – 54/100

Here’s a perfect example of a Light Novel adaptation schlock that has some interesting concept but terrible presentation. Youkoso usually starts the episode with a thought-provoking philosophical quote, and then (in one episode in particular) they followed up with a boob shot. It sums up exactly how I feel about this show. In service for […]

18if (Summer 2017) Review – 68/100

Allow me to skip over the last episode coverage for this full review of 18if, since I was too underwhelmed by the finale to have anything concrete except pointing out how messy the ending was. The first thing you need to know about 18if is that it’s a multimedia project (along with a mobile game […]

Princess Principal (Summer 2017) Review – 82/100

Princess Principal has emerged as a true sleeper hit for this admittedly sloppy Summer Season. A joint project from indie studios that bring us my favorite anime of last year Flip Flappers (3Hz) and “better than it has any right to be” Girls und Panzer (Actas), Princess Principal records the missions of five cute spy […]

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul Review 80/100

“Dance!” I have been a  reader of this blog for a long time. Indeed it would not be wrong to say that psgels and the current crop of writers have helped maintain my interest in anime for the last decade. So now here is my chance to give something back to this excellent blog. Shingeki […]

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review – 63/100

Every Anime season we the viewers are shown a number of adaptations, often made after Light or Visual Novels. It’s an already written story with an established base, a smart business decision. In recent years studios have also begun pulling from the Video Game market for their shows. Pieces like the Idolmaster series, Kantai Collection […]

Kakegurui Review – 61/100

This show is one that makes conventional reviewing difficult as your enjoyment of your series will likely determine on highly subjective factors. For if I was to put this under scrutiny on matters of f-plot, setting and characters then it will end up lacking in all categories. The plot is just watching Yumeko face members […]

Re:Creators – 22 [Re:CREATORS] – 75/100

There was never going to be a epic fight with every creation squaring off against the overpowered and invincible Altair. That possibility died when the creators threw the copycat of Blank at her only to have that plan backfire horribly. Besides, it wouldn’t have been a satisfying conclusion to Altair’s story to have her be […]