Posted on 28 December 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

In the weeks leading up to the summer 2017 season, Ballroom e Youkoso was one of the most buzzed-about new series. Produced by the Production I.G. team responsible for the smash hit Haikyuu!!, and set to air on Amazon’s brand new Anime Strike service, the series had no shortage of promotion or hype behind it. All that remained was for the creative staff to carefully transfer Takeuchi Tomo’s manga to the small screen, and they mostly succeeded – at least, in conveying its individual images and moments. But sports anime have evolved beyond an upper limit of simple panel-by-panel adaptations, and in the end, Ballroom didn’t manage to keep pace with its contemporaries. While its characters deserve some praise, both for their designs and their personalities, the series is limited by shounen clichés, haphazard progression, and an inadequate sense of movement during dance competitions.

The show’s lead character is one Fujita Tatara, whose general listlessness is gradually transformed into passion after he accidentally discovers ballroom dance. Tatara’s timid nature stands in stark contrast to the more dominant personalities he encounters throughout the series, and the show makes good use of that difference to portray Tatara’s personal growth in tandem with his improvement as a dancer. Though he is initially intimidated by rival characters both aloof and hotheaded, he learns from and ultimately befriends them as the series goes along. His relationships with three girls, all of whom serve as his dancing partner for some length of time, are even more central to Ballroom’s formula. Tatara struggles with the traditional notion of male-dominated performances, and aims to cooperate with his partners as best he can. There might have been some interesting social commentary to be had here, but the show smothered that potential during its second half by pushing the idea that its protagonist ought to become a perfect leader, but never satisfactorily explaining what that meant or how to do it.

Despite some muddled goal-setting, Ballroom’s characters are fun to spend time with, and worth learning about in detail. The show frequently explores performance anxiety, feelings of inferiority and stagnation, and even digs into the dark personal lives of its cast once or twice. But more common than these positive tendencies are competition-interrupting flashbacks and clunky comments from nameless observers, which become more common and more frustrating the longer the show goes on. Even Tatara’s biggest rival, an unflappable genius by the name of Hyodo Kiyoharu, begins seeing into the heads of other dancers by the show’s end, describing exactly what they’re feeling and perfectly evaluating their performances as a stand-in for the writers. This may have been necessary, however, in light of the show’s most glaring issue – for a show about ballroom dance, there isn’t nearly enough dancing to be found.

Many of the show’s problems intensify in its second half, but its poor dance animation is more noticeable in the early episodes. Even with an eventual uptick in the number of prolonged choreographed sequences, however, the damage is done at the start, with plenty of panning stills, reaction shots, CG dancers, and speed lines instead of honest-to-goodness dancing. Audience members aren’t given a proper introduction to the sport in motion, so we have to fall back on snippets of verbal speculation about whose stamina is giving out, or whether Tatara has finally learned how to execute a proper hold. This robs several key scenes of the impact they deserve, though others are bolstered by Ballroom’s frequent use of visual metaphor during competitions. If you cut your teeth on sports anime from the 90’s or early 2000’s, these techniques may not be too bothersome, but fans of newer titles in the genre may find the lack of dynamic movement disappointing.

This aspect of the show does improve as the series draws to a close, but there’s a trade-off to be made. Several characters are marginalized to make room for a brash newcomer, and her transition from manga to anime is less than seamless. The series also succumbs to a shounen tradition with which most anime fans will be quite familiar, though for the sake of potential viewers I won’t get too specific. Still, Ballroom ends well, and my original affection for the show did return for the final episode, so there’s reason to hang in there if you’re already halfway done. There’s little hope for a season 2, based on the lack of remaining source material, but if you’re reading this in the future and a sequel has emerged, you may be wondering whether the original is worth your time. My advice: if you’re a fan of sports anime, sample three episodes and see how you like it. Otherwise, give this one a pass.

Posted on 23 December 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

This is going to be a loose, informal series of takes on the last four episodes of Ballroom e Youkoso. We’re saving the professionalism for the series review post. If you think this show is the best thing since sliced bread, or just a competent anime series that you happen to enjoy, you’ll want to avert your eyes.

21: I recently had a conversation with my brother about whether art can be objectively labeled “good” or “bad.” Take anime, for example. Show the same episode to 100 different people, and you’ll get 100 varying ideas about how “good” it was. There’s no perfect metric that can be used to determine the quality of an artistic work – or so I thought, until I watched this episode. It is now my belief that you can fairly and impartially measure how bad an anime is by the length of its flashbacks and digressions. This episode was full of them, and it all started with a two-and-a-half minute free association exercise by our resident rival character, Hyodo Kiyoharu. We got scenes of him grilling his mom about her coaching technique, his opinions on the strengths of different dance partners, and a breakdown of stretches that can increase mobility, all in the middle of Tatara’s performance. This was just the beginning, as the show proceeded to bring Shizuku, Mako, Gaju, and a couple of sideline reporters in on the fun. No amount of metaphorical door kicks could save this episode from distracting itself to death.

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Posted on 23 November 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

It seems that the closer Ballroom e Youkoso gets to the end of its run, the further it moves from my strike zone. The series’ wide-ranging cast is its greatest asset, so you’d think that an extended flashback exploring Akira and Chinatsu’s shared past would be a slam dunk, but these episodes left me cold. There are too many hurdles for the show to overcome, between a lack of expressive motion, inconsistent portrayals of skill and compatibility, superfluous dialogue, and poor scene transitions. Assuming I continue doing double-episode posts, I’ve only got two more to go, but I’m dreading the final review that lies beyond them. Takeuchi Tomo, the original creator, has given us the heads-up that the Ballroom anime may receive an original ending due to delays in the manga’s release schedule, which only adds to my apprehension. Then again, the show has been pretty faithful to its source and still ended up in this rut, so maybe some fresh material is just what it needs.

There was a minor controversy surrounding Ballroom’s 41st chapter (from which “Rival” draws) a while back. When it was first published in Monthly Shounen Magazine, it contained a page where Akira thought to herself, “What I love is something else.” She expresses a similar thought in this episode (though Amazon’s subs use “like” instead of “love”), a reference to her affection for Chinatsu, rather than the sport that binds them. However, when chapter 41 was included in a compiled volume of the Ballroom manga, that text was removed, probably because it suggests a same-sex attraction on Akira’s part. Coming into this episode, I was curious which way the show would lean, and to my pleasant surprise, they included the line. In fact, this episode was heavy with lesbian subtext, from Akira’s descriptions of heart-pounding excitement at being around Chinatsu, to her “embarrassment” at studying the nape of her neck, to her jealousy at the thought of anyone else teaming up with Chinatsu.

Now we know that Akira is gay (or at least bisexual), and that her attraction to her former partner has shaped their relationship coming into adolescence. We even delve into her psyche a bit, as she manipulates Chinatsu into dancing the boy’s part because she prefers her in a “male” role, and labels her feelings as “wretched.” Despite its success in telling their story, however, Ballroom fails to connect it to the larger picture of the current arc. Akira dances to be close to Chinatsu, not because of a particular love for competition; Tatara’s current goal is to become a better competitor by understanding what it means to lead. Those ideas don’t have much to do with one another, although you could argue that the show has lost sight of Tatara’s arc, as well. The show is constantly giving us mixed messages about both him and Chinatsu. Take Mine-san’s evaluation of the pair, for example: “They have childish faces, but their childishness has disappeared.” Hello?! How does this explain Chinatsu’s relentless mocking of Akira in this episode (which kind of undercut the emotional aspect of their backstory), or Tatara’s exasperating timidity?

That brings me to my next point, about the lack of consistency surrounding the show’s treatment of the Tatara/Chinatsu partnership. Just a couple weeks ago they were in the zone, flying through the early rounds of the competition, and using their clashing personalities to push each other to new heights. We even got that scene where Chinatsu was viscerally influenced by Tatara’s movement, so much so that it threatened to overtake her. Then we get to these episodes, and the entire peanut gallery is shit-talking them, Chinatsu is acting totally aloof, and they’re literally stepping on each other’s feet. Then we move to the slapstick second half of “Friend,” which features a scene where Hyodo sits on Tatara’s back and “separates his muscles” over his anguished cries, while Chinatsu and Akira nonchalantly eat bananas in the foreground… I’m cool with anime moving rapidly between different styles and tones, but only if they establish that versatility as a part of their DNA, and Ballroom has never been as wacky or felt as conflicted as it was here. The majority of this doubleheader’s appeal was lost on me, but hey, there’s only four episodes to go.

Posted on 11 November 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

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, Finished Series: Sports

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, Finished Series: Sports

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, Finished Series: Sports

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, Finished Series: Sports

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, Finished Series: Sports

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, Finished Series: Sports

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.

CHANGE USERNAME
Animosh
@Amagi: going by the preview it'll be about the kickass kouhai. I'm also surprised this arc ended so soon, but I'm kind of happy they didn't drag it out. Memory loss arcs can be really dull if taken too seriously.
Animosh
@Kaiser: yeah, strangely enough the whole bunny girl thing feels really out of place. I mean, Mai quit being an actress (for the time being anyway) because her mother forced her into a swimsuit shoot, but she's okay with walking around in a bunny suit? Seems out of character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Someone has uploaded all the chapters of Opus by Satoshi Kon: https://manganelo.com/manga/sw917587
Kaiser-Eoghan
Such lies though, she was only a bunny girl in the first episode =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
I would like them to develop on this adolescence syndrome thing further too.
SuperMario
*haganai
SuperMario
But I do have a strong urge to rewatch OreGairu or watch Hanagai after watching Bunny Girl... maybe I will watch them again
SuperMario
@Amagi: it's typical for a LN series. I guess the next arc will be about another girl with the same phenomenal. She might likely have a feeling with our protagonist as well, but he has his eyes on Bunny girl senpai so he doesn't accept her feeling. You know, the usual stuffs
Amagi
In general I mean.
Amagi
I didn't even know it would get resolved before the end of the series. So it isn't just about the initial problem but this youth phenomenon as well. I wonder what the next arc will be about.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Some are saying material is being rushed through though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm surprised that bunnygirls first ark is already done though, this felt like some kind of end.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Jesus christ ore ga suki imouto's animation is unbelievably awful.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Well, thats certainly quite the confession isn't it? @bunnygirl ep 3.
Vonter
@Niello - That's 'cause Miayano isn't Pepe Macias: https://youtu.be/nCL6e5TmVG8?t=34
Lenlo
Personally I like this Miyano voice, but only because it sounds like Old Okabe before 0 ruined him
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: Wouldn't go that far. But as I've said this show did not click with me at all on most levels.
Niello
Am I the only one who think Miyano sounds annoying in Zombieland Saga? It was the same in Tadakoi too.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Castlebros4life.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I forgot to mention, what I like about this guy is that he actually does have a plan rather than just milling it into the goblins.
Lenlo
Castlevania hype! I cant wait for season 2
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm more looking forward to reading The year one side story which is more about Goblin slayer himself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hmmm, I've caught up to the 28th chapter of Goblin slayers manga chapter, in spite of being rinse and repeat with not much depth, so far its remains fun. There will definitely be a "human shield" scene that won't appear in the anime. I'd hoped the side story manga would go into priestess girls past our something but it doesn't.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Castlevania season 2 is out next week.
AidanAK47
Damn, Youtubes down
Kaiser-Eoghan
Mamoru Miyano is the same voice actor for the producer and Okabe.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think they are doing other genres in zombieland too, I think one is vaporwave.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It would be very strange if the guy who is the past version of Hitomi's grandfather started falling for her.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That leads me to consider , should the search bar be moved?
AidanAK47
Pretty Sure he mistook the chat window for a search bar
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Fell behind, part 3 too long aswell.
SuperMario
@anon: it's just too little too late...
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Interested in seeing more of that horse guy who showed up in the recent beastars chapters. Also liked how they co-relate lion guy with louis' dad.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Not that I'm knocking Honda-san, as that simple/minimalist style is another thing that makes these gag comedies work also.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Animation's a bit BARE BONES though wahaha!
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I'm quite amused by the surrealism of it all, a skeleton working in a bookshop =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: A quick random fact, one of the manga the blonde girl in episode 1 is asking for is a legendary, old shounen-ai classic from the 70s. The short format suits these gag comedies because I feel that stretching them out to 20 something minute runtimes kills the joke.
Lenlo
Honda-San continues to be the funniest thing I have seen in awhile
AidanAK47
@Vonter, That should not go together as well as it does
Kaiser-Eoghan
The Goblin slayer did nothing wrong.
Animosh
It's dumb, but I can't deny it's uplifting. :)
Animosh
The slime anime really offers the perfect counter to Goblin Slayer. In Goblin Slayer murder is the answer to everything, peace is impossible and revenge will haunt you forever. In the slime series? A short speech about the benefits of kindness and cooperation and the pitfalls of revenge is enough to convince everyone to get along (and that includes two races who were on the verge of war).
Vonter
Also because I just had to: http://vmashup.com/yvDoiQhU
Vonter
Zombieland gives me Scooby Doo vibes. With a silly premise of reviving moe girls to make a band. How they're prey to their instincts and I do like the music aspect doesn't feel as artificial as other shows that may also promote the songs to be sold. Since the music seems more to play for the story than to be good songs. Not remarkable but enjoyable I'll say.
Vonter
So far I've more issue with what the maid says than what she does. Since the anime wants to paint her in a good light but some of the things she says are very creepy. On the other side, there seems an underlying sadness since she seems capable but dumbfounded on how to live her life.
Vonter
I checked UzaMaid! and Zombieland Saga, which were funny and silly and entertaining, nothing major, but I also don't found them bad. The first one treads the line so far of having creepy implications, but it has a bit of John Hughes slapstick thrown a bit. I'll like it more if the little girl were a bit more like Kevin from Home Alone or Junior from Problem Children.
Amagi
Seems like a part of the background has changed after the post-kaiju fight reset in Gridman. I wonder what's even real in this series.
SuperMario
Gosh, how I love the improv dialogues and the indie Kemono-Friends level of visual flourish in Himote House
Masky
Like Zero Escape series itself goes through pretty much everything related to psychology
Masky
In general I don't really get what is up with japanese fictional works running different scientific paradoxes or theories into everything unrelated ._.
Lenlo
Mmm Im so glad I started throwback thursday. 2 episodes in and I already love Planetes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think might know it off by heart now I hear it mentioned so much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I hope I haven't doomed you, I voted for Goblin slayer .
Amagi
Hate that too and I actually got my hopes up in episode 1 since it seemed like they wouldn't explain it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: I was hoping someone else would bring that up.
Niello
Bunny Girl is pretty good so far, but I do have to say that I rolled my eyes at another rundown of Schrodinger's cat. What's with the obsession?
Amagi
Drama never works for me with Key and even most of Kyoani's works in general.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I already mentioned about how surprisingly solid/serious bunny girl senpai takes itself for the better, but I'd like to add, the drama doesn't feel obnoxious either such as in a Key work.
Amagi
I love those first impression reviews of bad series.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Yeah, it's why I never picked HxH up again as well. I also think there are still tons of issues with SAO although most of them come up later. AW will always be way better in my opinion.
Anonymous2948346
Glad the Imouto review was good for something, niello. The show itself certainly isn't.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wouldn't deny that for some a series could improve as it went on, but with sword art, its now three seasond and a movie , thats alot to watch and quite the ask to get to the "good" part.
Amagi
@niello: I meant that key visual https://d38fgd7fmrcuct.cloudfront.net/1_3p7wgf1obds2mkioy1cmi.jpg - but as said it doesn't mean anything. I will only get hyped once I see the first animated scene and confirm that the boats aren't CG or at least a good kind of CG.
Lenlo
Oh baby. Spring 2019, One Punch Man S2 and Hero Aca S4. Can't wait
niello
@Amagi, Vinland Saga promo pic looks good? Aren't those just manga cover pictures that they showed in the promo...
niello
"Ore ga Sick of this Shit dakedo Shit Keeps Getting Made", I laughed so hard, thanks.
Lenlo
Will probably do a final review but not weekly episodes
Lenlo
But I watched it. Its alright, im gonna watch it to the end.
Lenlo
@animosh, I dont know about them.
Animosh
Oh, that sounds very promising! I've always found thematic explorations of virtual reality very interesting. You know: What is "real" and what isn't? Does it even matter? And what place should virtual reality have in society? In previous seasons those themes were a bit dumbed down, so I'd be up for seeing them explored in some more detail. And with four cours, there's plenty of time to do so.
Amagi
I am not yet sure how much SAO III will suffer from the lacking inner monologue though. The interesting part fo it was the world building and the taboos and how it was the first actual simulation and creation of humanity and the birth of a virtual culture, with mods and admins being literal gods in the VR, like some matrix thing. The anime skipped a lot and actions they do feel more casual there.
Amagi
@Animosh: Well the author did improve a lot, I actually consider most of Accel World as pretty good, especially the later arcs. Thanks for reminding me to buy the last two volumes by the way.
Animosh
I'm sure it won't be great (hell, given SAO's track record, it'll almost certainly end up punishing me for getting my hopes up), but there are at least signs that the author has recognized what went wrong in previous seasons and is trying to correct his mistakes. So with some luck, I might just end up enjoying this season! Maybe. Not getting my hopes up too much though.
Animosh
And where previous seasons barely made any attempts to build up the various virtual worlds, this season is taking it slow so far, which makes it feel more like a well-realized world than a generic fantasy blob. And last but not least, it seems Kirito will have to start over, so even if he'll inevitably end up OP again, he'll probably have to work for it, which is something the series really needed
Animosh
For example: the old cast has been stuck in the harem-mold for a long time, and that makes them incredibly dull. Most of them only exist to make Kirito look good, and barely have any agency of their own. But the new characters are different (so far at least). The most prominent new character (Eugeo) is male, and has clear goals of his own.
Animosh
By the way, did you guys skip Sword Art Online for your first impressions posts? I know you're not fond of the series (and rightly so, because it's way too popular for such a mediocre series), but I actually think it's been pretty decent so far. A fresh start with a largely new cast is exactly what the series needed, and there are some promising signs it's heading in a positive direction.
Animosh
@Amagi: I felt the same way after the episode. It's a very predictable move, but somehow I still didn't see it coming. I guess I should have known better than to trust a happy-go-lucky love interest (although I'm rooting for Rikka) after Darling in the Franxx.
Animosh
But in their own ways they still offered the kind of wild and wacky ride through adolescent insecurities that FLCL is known for, and the characters were likable enough (even if underdeveloped). The OST remains strong too. So although the series could definitely have been better, overall I think this has been a pretty enjoyable revival of the series.
Animosh
After its slow start I'm glad FLCL at least managed to end on a fairly strong note. I still think it's a shame none of the two series really managed to replicate the surreal craziness and visual inventiveness of the original (though Progressive did try), and the wider focus of both series compared to OG FLCL (with the same number of episodes) backfired a little.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Sometimes the offscreen content can allow our imaginations to work and disturb us more.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Deception more like.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Girl wasn't even pregnant, show telling lies, too lazy to draw pregnancy too probably .
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Was your internet acting weird today? Don't know what provider you're using but mine only came back an hour ago or so, lots of people in Dublin were reporting connection issues and in other counties too.
SuperMario
@Amagi: still haven't watched the second one but the first episode did surprise me
AidanAK47
@Amagi, Still ain't watching it
Amagi
Okay I didn't really see the content of ep 2 of Gridman coming. I feel like I should have seen this coming, but I didn't.
Masky
I'm honestly confused about Conception since I'm under impression that Conception games are about "Do some sort of weird ritual to create "Star Child" which doesn't actually involve pregnancy". Like did game also go this far, did anime change this or is this setup for second episode to start with "lol just kidding" or what the frick
Amagi
I think deaths are often the best examples of failed attempts to keep the audience invested. Regardless how many tears there are and how tragic the death is, I won't care when the series itself is bad, the character not flashed out or the scene forced. I have seen series in which one died offscreen that hit me harder than a full episode of whining over some dead moe blobb.
Amagi
There are a lot anime like that since the presentation is important. There are many of those convoluted trainwrecks with 10 different plot twist where one or two of them are actually good on paper but do nothing when you watch it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Regarding those crap light novel shows...it really is a sign isn't it, that its so bad sometimes, that even if it does something that appeals to you/would titillate you, you still don't care and won't watch it, because its so shit.
Lenlo
A poll assumes people would actually vote in it. I guess I can try it out and see if people care enough for it, sure. Still, would need things to put on said poll, so feel free to suggest
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sometimes with these shows you just have to let them wash over you.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Perhaps I could say similar about irozuku as I do Yagate.
Amagi
I am kinda happy I managed to avoid all bad series this season with the exception of Release the Spyce which I only tried because I gave it the benefit of doubt due to having enjoyed Princess principal to some degree despite its many flaws.
SuperMario
I'm back after a week vacation and the first thing I watched again was Conception. I mean I was prepared but this show is one of the reason we all need break to stay sane
Kaiser-Eoghan
I need a refresher on the early bits of vinland and Viking Count Dooku (Askeladd) arc so watching the anime would be a great recap oppurtunity.
Amagi
I really hope Vinland Saga will have a good budget. The promo pic looks pretty damn good but I also liked the very first promo pic of the last Berserk series and we all know how that one turned out.
Amagi
And yes Legosi also always makes me think of Bela Lugosi. I guess I watched too many old movies.
Amagi
@Kaiser: I strangely also lost interest in some game series I liked as little kid, Megaman too for example. I guess there are just series that can work on NES and SNES but not that well as 3D series on modern consoles.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I come away from irozuku feeling I watched an aethetically pleasing, somewhat cute show but not much else, but that may not be an entirely bad thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@lenlo: Alternatively you could put up a poll.
Lenlo
Thats a good idea Kaiser! I read all the comments, so if there are any you think would be good feel free to suggest them. I can compile a list and pick one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: To make things easier, perhaps each season, for variety, the throwback Thursday thing could pick a different genre for it each season.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Every time I read his name in Beastars, I kept thinking the actors name "Bela Legosi" because the wolf's name was legosi.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Weird tangent, looking up Irozuku on google image search reveals theres a porn actress with the same name as the lead female character =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sometimes I think the fans had better ideas for the games.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Not that I hated any of his games though, but they did have diminishing returns and weren't always consistent in quality. It was disappointing when they started going for some kind of story, then kind of dropped it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was a big fan of megaman growing up, but like sonic, unlike Mario and Zelda, his games got increasingly diluted the more the franchise went on, megaman didn't work in 3D either. Also the second nes one has a really neat soundtrack =)
Vonter
Megaman 11 made me want to play the old games. So I bought the first Legacy Collection pack which has a rewind feature. The first game is hard and cheap at some spots. It also feels a bit stiff. Still it's funny spotting things that were changed in every other entry. Like the boss checkpoints having enemies and traps. Also I think this is the only game showing Dr. Light's house from the outside.
Lenlo
Ah, that anon was me! Was on my phone
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: My beastars post would have gone into spoilers. I decided to private message instead.
Anonymous2930785
I am very happy that Shorter isnt a one and done event.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: In regards to humour. However in terms of anime humour, something like hoozuki no reitatsu would have me losing my shit laughing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I love stuff by Bunuel or Roy Anderson.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I prefer sardonic, sad bastard, bleak, dry/depressing or particularly serious but surreal comedy, humour/comedy played straight .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh, yes as expected with Zombieland saga, I gave it a second episode chance, but this is an easy drop for me, its just how comedy goes sometimes, but I didn't laugh once during this episode , just left me cold/blank to it.
Amagi
It's like that season that had SoraYori, I watched like 7 other shows but I only remember SoryYori by now.
Amagi
I think for the last season (counting finished series) this is only true for Planet With. I do remember Chiochan when I think a bit but spontaneosly I couldn't come up with anything else if I had a time limit of 20 seconds or so.
Amagi
I often only really become aware about which series I liked the most when I try remembering the respective season months later. I often enjoy a bunch of shows and watch even more, and yet, at the end of the day, there is always onely one or two that actually stick in my mind.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have to say again, I'm glad that Shorter is still being remembered episodes after him leaving the show. Thought they could have held that scene with yut-lung longer, its obvious he despises Eiji. Sudden gag in this episodes middle threw me off. lol at that killing attempt in the second half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There's also a horror manga about Robert Johnson, me and the devil blues.
Amagi
Speaking of great manga series, everyone should try Shiori Experience, the Jimmy Hendrix manga. There is barely any series that hypes me up as much as this one and I read a lot. This could be the anime of the year if it would get adapted by a competent team and get a good budget and appropriate OST.
Amagi
@Kaiser: I think I will marathon the rest of Dorohedoro the next days. And then looking forward to her next series.
Amagi
Zombieland Saga is the only new anime that actually surprised me. I am not talking about good or bad here, there are a bunch of other pretty good series airing right now but Zombieland is the only one that caught me off-guard in a positive way.
AidanAK47
Okay, I think I love Zombieland Saga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've embraced bunny-girls approach to its dialogue/drama now with the second episode, also they go a bit into her past in this episode.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: I'll be posting my thoughts later. Also, there's on one chapter of dorohedoro left.
Amagi
There are 7 new Beastars chapters out, I really liked the climax here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
On a tangent, damn you mappa, adapt Freesia already .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I needed to watch red garden twice to really "get" it, as in for it to click for me, its a show that picks up near the middle.
Amagi
It had scenes you rarely see in anime that do happen all the time in real life, like friends talking across each other, people talking at the same time or interrupting others.
Amagi
@Niel: Have you seen Red Garden? A lot of people agreed that it had the most natural dialogues of the anime that aired that year so maybe you would enjoy that too.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animmosh: josei yuri I would welcome being adapted.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: Hana wa saku, yuutsu no asa and Acid town adaptation WHEN.
Animosh
Yuri gets all the hype, but yaoi gets all the glory.
Animosh
So, yeah, if other folk here haven't seen it yet, give it a try! By the way, it's interesting how what probably were my two favorite shows of the past season (Banana Fish and this one) were both BL shows. Can't say I saw that coming.
Animosh
It's kind of reminiscent of classics like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but with some anime tropes added to the mix (the bubbly main character and his tsundere love interest), and with less emphasis on politics and more on horror and fantasy. And for a Chinese series, the animation is really solid, in spite of the occasional CGI hiccup. The backgrounds in particular are very easy on the eyes.
Animosh
I don't remember who it was, but thanks for recommending Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation! It's surprisingly good for a show I had heard so little about. I love historical epics, and the main characters are built up very well and have a lot of chemistry. I do wish the antagonists were more interesting (they're very black-and-white), but the protagonists are all a lot of fun to watch.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*didn't work for me
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niel: Garo didn't work for outside of the fantasy setting.
Niel
The exceptions to this are usually shorts and films. You don't get to see them often in TV series. As for the story, I don't have nearly enough patience for monster-of-the-week formula as I did years ago, so if it's just going the generic tokusatsu route then you'll hear from me. but since Garo wasn't too bad I have hope that they will do something interesting with this.
Niel
The environments also feel so much more like places where people live and hang out. Take the school room for example. Anime rarely portray school rooms as this place where teenagers gather and play during break. It's usually only consist of people talking with no mischieve whatsoever. And when there are scenes of bedroom they often feels more like a showroom than a place where someone live in.
Niel
@Lenlo @Aidan Your impressions of Gridman are fair. I'm just really excited for Gridman because two of my main pet peeves with anime are the unnatural dialogue, and bland and sterilised background environments. Here when characters talk, it actually seem so much closer to the conversation flow you'd see more in everyday life, and I'm kind of starving for that in my anime.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although with drugs and anime in mind, I do wish that a sports anime that addresses cheating through performance enhancing drugs would be made.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Release the spyce and drug use? I find this odd, I think I heard that the Japanese had a thing about depicting that (drugs) in animation/on tv when it came to young charcters.
Masky
Like, sure, it has tactical goblin slaughter action, but its more about how broken mess of person Goblin Slayer is and how he learns to connect with people. Its surprisingly insightful at times, but the trashy parts really clash with the actual tone of series considering its only purpose is pretty much "Goblins are horrible" which is point you got with gore in first place
Masky
Anyhoo, yeah, made already comment about it on the blog, but I really feel like trashy parts of Goblin Slayer clash with what it is about
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Featured Posts

Planetes – 2 [Like a Dream] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome to week 2 of Throwback Thursday, as we continue our dive into Planetes! This week we have a focused character story, some fun humor and lots of beautiful scenery. Lets jump in! So starting off, Planetes continues to look fantastic. From the motion of the characters, to the colors and details in every scene. […]

Kaze Ga Tsukyoku Fuiteiru – 3 [A Single Flower]

Hello and welcome to week 3 of Kaze Fui! This time our boys start running, Kurahara meets someone from his past and poor Akane ups and dies. Lets jump in! So general stuff first, Kaze Fui continues to look just beautiful. The running animation really is nice, and its unique for each runner. From Kurahara’s […]

SSSS.GRIDMAN – 02 [Restoration]

Me blogging a Trigger show? Well, I’ll be damned myself but life does take some strange turn. Not that I’m a Trigger naysayer but if I’ll be honest, Trigger shows tend to rub me in a wrong way. The studio is seen as the successor of Gainax for one thing, and the overhyped reactions from […]

Goblin Slayer – 02[Goblin Slayer]

The opening to this series is surprisingly more melancholic than I would have expected. When the shows opening started I was waiting for it to break into heavy metal but it stayed low and actually does match the rather dark nature of the series itself. After all this is a series about a PTSD madman […]

Zombieland Saga – 02[I ♡ HIP HOP SAGA]

Zombieland Saga is madness. Pure insanity that could be complete genius or absolute idiocy. So for those who haven’t heard this anime is not the zombie apocalypse show that was initially thought, as a matter of fact the zombie apocalypse footage in the trailer was in fact a video the producer showed the girls to […]

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara – 02 [I Can’t Stand Magic]

It’s always neat to see a work that feels every inch a P.A Works production. When you think about the studio, you’d immediately associate them with their original shows, chief among them ‘Mature women in workplace’ unofficial trilogy, and The Eccentric Family (I consider the latter their pinnacle work). For the last 5,6 years the […]

Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san – 2 [Let Me Introduce My Crazy Colleagues in This Bookstore!]

Ladies, Gentlemen and everyone in between, I welcome you to the 2nd episode of Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-San, the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. Lets jump in! Considering Honda-San’s material, I am not even going to bother with spoilers. It’s a comedy short, deal with it. These posts will also be a […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 – 02 [The Stolen Sorcerous Blades]

Fun fact, I had just been to Taiwan and while in their local old bookstores and DVDs, I saw a section of puppetry animation dvds in the corner of the store (should’ve bought one now that I think about it). Apparently wuxia puppetry has a niche market in Taiwan, and so I’m glad that me, […]

Banana Fish – 14 [Tender is the Night]

Welcome to an all new episode of Banana Fish! This time with a new OP, ED and progressed plot points. Lets jump in! So before I get into spoilers, let’s talk about the new OP and ED. The OP is Freedom by Blue Encount, while the ED is Red by Survive Said The Prophet. Personally, […]

Latest Reviews

Planet With Anime Review – 90/100

Planet With is an anime that likely leaves many unimpressed when they look at the cover and makes for a solid proof that you cannot judge a book by it’s cover or even by it’s first episode. Many have overlooked this show in it’s season but for those that did give it chance it went […]

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes (Dubbed) – 84/100

Ah, the movie tie in. A right of passage for all aspiring Shounen series. Some, like One Piece have weathered it and come out Golden, while others are better forgotten (Looking at you Bleach). My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, in my opinion, is closer to former. Animated by BONES , Directed by Kenji Nagasaki and […]

A quick and dirty review of Angolmois: Record of the Mongol Invasion

What it claims to be about: Angolmois (a reference to a Nostradamus prophesy which is rather irrelevant for the show, as he lived several centuries after the events) focuses on the first Mongol Invasion of Japan in 1274. Specifically it focuses on the early phase of the invasion when the Mongols attack Tsushima, which essentially […]

Steins;Gate 0 Anime Review – 60/100

Before I begin this review in earnest, I have to ask, who doesn’t know about Steins;Gate? The amazing, beloved original series that Steins;Gate 0 is an offshoot of. Well if you don’t, if you haven’t seen the original, then stop now. Steins;Gate 0 is not worth it. It is not for you. Without having seen […]

Mirai (2018) Movie Review – 81/100

Watching Mirai, there are two observations that spring right up to my mind: Mirai is Hosoda’s most grounded, personal film and it plays out completely different from what I expected based from the promotional materials. My feeling is confirmed when I later learned that Hosoda based the concept from watching his own children’s react, and […]

Fate/Extra Last Encore Anime Review – 40/100

To many the Fate series is daunting with its numerous incarnations and spinoffs and here in the year of many a Fate adaption we get another one by Studio Shaft which was first thought to adapt the story of the PSP game Fate/Extra. Fate/Extra could basically be considered Fate with a sci-fi twist as this […]

Darling in the Franxx Anime Review – 57/100

In following anime seasons it can be quite an experience to follow a show as it airs as the hype and rollercoaster of reactions can be entertainment in its own right. In that regard Darling in the Franxx was a hell of a ride as week by week peoples feelings for it ran hot and […]

Hisone to Masotan (2018 Spring) Review – 73/100

Coming off as one of my most anticipated anime out of this last Spring Season, based solely on staffs involved alone – after all, an original anime written by Mari Okada and produced by Bones (which I regarded as one of the best anime studio working right now) – I can’t help but feel let […]

Megalo Box – 86/100

Ah boxing, the quintessential manly man sport of beating each other unconscious. In anime, the sport was first forged in the fires of Ashita no Joe, and some would say later perfected by Hajime no Ippo. Both fantastic series in their own right. Both filled to the brim with epic clashes of wills, phenomenal characters and […]