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).

Posted on 3 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

Ballroom aired a double feature last week, so this review is either a few days late or a few days early, depending on how you look at it. Either way, there won’t be a new episode this coming Saturday, with the next one scheduled to appear on August 12th. Personally, I welcome the break as an opportunity to reset my expectations for the show, which seem to have been too high. This series isn’t a mold-breaker of any kind, but rather a traditional shounen anime with non-traditional subject material. “Partner” was likewise a straightforward episode, but it did manage to properly introduce two very different characters, and adjust the motivations driving several of our main players. Not a bad way to wrap things up before a two-week break, all things considered.

With Hyodo occupying the role of brooding genius, the show was missing a more hot-blooded rival character – that is, until now. Enter Gaju Akagi, whose brash personality and loud mouth are perfectly complimented by his ginger mullet. It’s a bit ironic that he insults Tatara’s bedhead just minutes after barreling into the episode, given his own disastrous hairdo. Maybe he lets it grow so long in the back because he’s ashamed of his giraffe neck? Jokes aside, though, Gaju’s dancing is nothing to laugh at, and he supports his claim to become Shizuku’s new partner with some fancy Latin footwork. The last of those three cuts looked rotoscoped to my eyes, but it was also super smooth and a little sexy, which is a tone that has eluded the series until now. I wouldn’t mind if I.G. fell back on this method from time to time in the future.

Gaju’s younger sister Mako can only watch from the sidelines as her partner tries to leave her behind, which is more than a little sad. She’s the meek, sensitive type, which is also a template that Ballroom hadn’t busted out until this week. Tatara is charmed by her shyness the same way he was by Shizuku’s strength, but is unable to sync with her during their first dance (if you could even call it that). Mako’s willingness to be led pays off later in the episode, though, when Tatara activates Prodigy Mode and instinctively guides her where she wants to go, providing some confidence in their future teamwork. Mako will have to exhibit much more improvement if she wants to reach her new goal, though: surpassing Shizuku and convincing Gaju to rejoin her as one of Japan’s best amateur Latin duos.

Also on board with this plan are Tatara and Sengoku, the latter of whom sets up the second meeting between the two shy kids. This might be the first time that Sengoku is actually cooperating with his new student, rather than manipulating or making fun of him, and it’s only made possible by their mutual dislike of Gaju. At the root of that dislike is the shared belief that Gaju is “stealing” Shizuku from Hyodo, but the reality is that Shizuku chose to switch partners of her own will. She claims not to care about Hyodo anymore, but regardless of whether that declaration holds any water, he’s banned from JDSF competitions for six months, so why not let the girl find a new lead? Even if her decision is meant to anger Sengoku, who she rightly calls out for being untrusting, she ought to be allowed to compete for the next half year, rather than being punished for other people’s mistakes. The episode closes on a shot of Shizuku looking pensively into the wall-length mirror at Ogasawara, perhaps wondering whether she’s made the right decision, so the show had better follow up with her character soon – the further she gets from being considered a prize to be won, the better.

Posted on 30 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

If you’d asked me a month ago for my top picks of the season, Ballroom e Youkoso would have been one of them. If you’d asked me two weeks ago to rank the new summer series, this show would have been right beneath Made in Abyss at the top of the heap. If you’d asked me seven days ago whether Ballroom was going to bounce back from its first subpar episode, I’d have wagered it would… but it didn’t. We’re only four weeks into a planned 24-episode run, so this level of pessimism must seem premature to many of you. Part of me knows that it is. The other, much larger part of me is too disappointed to care, so I’m going full nitpick mode for the next 500 words, with the promise that I’ll resume standard coverage next time.

Let’s start with how annoying Sengoku was in this episode, and more broadly, the depths of stupidity to which anime character writing can descend. Hyodo, Sengoku’s star pupil, has been concealing a knee injury that his teacher fears will worsen without rest. His solution is to take advantage of Hyodo’s absence and use Tatara as a substitute, which will disqualify Hyodo, thus preventing him from dancing and compounding his injury. (Let us overlook the fact that he could have simply convinced Shizuku to withdraw, as a later manga chapter will point out.) He then proceeds to blame Tatara, who he roped into this ridiculous plan, for lighting a fire under Hyodo’s ass, claiming that it will be his fault if his rival should bust his leg on the floor. The show hangs a lampshade on how dumb this is by having the background characters accuse Sengoku of being unreasonable, but the show forgets their objections as quickly as it raised them. The kicker is that Mr. Coach of the Year thinks to himself, “I guess it was worth butting in,” when he sees Hyodo dance the tango like a man possessed, and later laughs about the length of his ban from competitive DanceSport.

You might claim that Sengoku is just a dick, but think about the fact that the author delayed the disqualification just long enough for Hyodo to land himself in the hospital, or that Tatara continues to blame himself for Hyodo’s injury and DQ, even though it’s obvious to anyone with an ounce of brain power that neither of those things are his fault. This series is pushing square-shaped story beats through circular holes, and whenever the peanut gallery shows up to remind you that what’s happening doesn’t make a lot of sense, they get swept under the rug. Some of the same problems are present in the manga, but seeing them presented at a static pace and with no adjustments is a real disadvantage for viewers of the TV version.

Where the anime ought to excel is in the dancing scenes, but they’re just not cutting it for me. Ballroom is pulling the classic trick of cutting from panning stills to amazed reaction shots, and hoping that its real-life audience will feel the same sense of wonder as the faces on screen. I’m starting to see a lot of painted backgrounds that are meant to imply movement, as well – they’re not as cheap as speed lines, but they serve the same purpose. The standing ovation that Hyodo’s tango received near the middle of the episode felt utterly phony, given that more than half of it looked like posing rather than dancing, and that sucked the life from everything that happened afterward. Iwakuma’s brief appearance came off as immaterial, and what could have been a real heart-to-heart between Tatara and Hyodo ultimately felt like a convenient way to move the former boy one step closer to his goal. It now falls to the Akagi siblings (the two characters introduced just before the ED) to breathe new life into this once-charming show, or else the next five months of blogging are going to be tinged with regret.

NOTE: This week, I started referring to the show’s protagonist (Fujita Tatara) by his given name, which should become a regular practice going forward.

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

Well, there’s no going back now. Ballroom just went full sports anime, and it cut the brake lines for good measure. After the relative nuance of last week’s character introduction, the newest episode treated us to more fanservice, more contrivance, and more shounen formula than the last two combined. Sports series have really stepped up their game over the last few years, with Yuri on Ice and especially Ping Pong busting genre conventions every time they hit the airwaves, but I wasn’t expecting Ballroom to reach those heights – just equaling its sister series Haikyuu would be a fine achievement. The going is still early, but since I’m reviewing the show episodically, I don’t have a lot of praise to dole out this time.

Before we get too negative, though, let’s talk about Fujita’s family life for a bit. There’s a sweet mealtime scene between our young hero, his father, and his grandmother, who we met for the first time this week. Fujita does his best impression of a color commentator as a sumo match plays on TV, allowing his nearsighted grandma to follow along. This heartwarming scene further establishes him as a good kid, but he’s still not disclosing his new hobby to his dad, so I have to wonder when Fujita’s sneaking around will come back to bite him in the butt. Ballroom isn’t one of those series that makes its paternal figures into antagonists, but we already know that he’s concerned about his son’s upcoming high school entrance exams. When he inevitably learns that ballroom dancing is coming before Fujita’s studies, we can expect a B-plot’s worth of material from the resulting conflict.

Notably absent from the dinner table is Fujita’s mother. I’ve been on the lookout for a shrine somewhere in their home, but it appears she’s just living apart from her family. I have to wonder whether Fujita would be more comfortable revealing his passion for dance to a mother figure, but it’s hard to speculate, since all the women in this cast are already part of that world. Tamaki-san is the encouraging type, at least, which is a wonderful trait for a young novice to have in an instructor. Speaking of female characters, I took issue with the way that half of the cast was treated in this episode. This is a shounen property, so I was prepared for a certain level of sexual objectification, but at this point Banba’s role in the story is 80% boob jiggle. The more offensive instance by far, though, came when Sengoku grabbed a handful of Shizuku’s dress during a pep talk and inadvertently bared her breasts. Then they threw in a gushing nosebleed and a camera flash for good measure… I was able to get past the changing scene from last week without much trouble, but if this shit becomes a staple in Ballroom’s playbook, it’s going to put a sizeable damper on my enjoyment of the series.

Excessive fanservice isn’t the only bone I had to pick with this episode, either. The “overheard from a bathroom stall” trope was executed with about as much grace as Fujita after just one dance lesson, and it didn’t teach us anything that we couldn’t infer from the studio above his home and his rigorous practice routine. The show’s attempt to frame another competitor for Hyodo’s fall didn’t even qualify as half-hearted, plus we’ve already seen him fall down a flight of stairs at Ogasawara. And the fall itself was a complete contrivance, not only because it allowed Fujita to hit the floor way ahead of schedule, but also because it will prevent Hyodo from claiming his title. This kind of plotting reminds me of sports anime from the mid-90’s: clumsy and lacking any kind of dramatic tension. Sengoku refers to dance competitions as “battlefields” midway through the episode, but the show handled this one as though it were a mere reenactment.

Thankfully, Hyodo’s character remains fascinating, even when the events unfolding around him are not. After seeing Fujita’s excited expression on the dance floor, Hyodo angrily demands that he “give it back,” a clear reference to the passion that he himself has lost. It’s tempting to think that the two trash-talkers from the bathroom got under his skin, but it seems to me that he’s been approaching this breaking point for a while. His enthusiasm for the sport is at a low point, given his lack of challengers and disinterest in training overseas; he may not even want to compete at all, feeling only the need to live up to his reputation or please his parents. Hyodo’s expressions on the floor are often intense, but never are they happy, and that’s where Fujita has him beat. The continued strength of their rivalry will be one of the biggest measures of Ballroom’s success as it goes on – hopefully the rest of the show catches up soon.

Posted on 17 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

After a strong start to its two cour season, Ballroom e Youkoso has managed to waltz its way past all potential stumbling blocks and deliver an even better second episode. There was a lot to love here, including a carefully introduced rival and love triangle, great voicework from Shinba Tsuchiya, and some promising animation during a late solo dance sequence. Ballroom isn’t above including anime tropes like the always-classy ‘interrupted changing scene,’ and lead character Fujita’s latent genius is a bit too evident after just two installments, but the team at Production I.G. is doing a lot more things right than wrong. Let’s break them down step by step.

The episode is named after Kiyoharu Hyodo, the biggest of the three characters it introduces (the other two being Banba and Jinbo, Fujita’s friendly but underqualified dance instructors). Sengoku describes Hyodo as a “monster” who stands in complete dominance of Japan’s amateur DanceSport scene. He’s full of intensity on the floor, but totally aloof when he’s away from it, demonstrating his nonchalance throughout the episode via several cavernous yawns. Even if you think these are intentional, Hyodo is quite agreeable for a rival character in anime, especially given his young age and outrageous skill. He demonstrates a basic waltz step for his new studio-mate with only a slight protest, and keeps his cool when Fujita later interrupts his solo practice. The hitch is that Hyodo is involved in a nine-year dance partnership with Shizuku, on whom our hero has a massive crush.

When Sengoku teases that Fujita might try to steal his partner, Hyodo claims not to care. Shizuku, however, appears to care very much, blushing and pouting at his level-headed response. Thus the love triangle falls into place, with the only question mark being where Hyodo’s affections lie. Attractive and talented as Shizuku is, it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be interested, but he doesn’t seem to be; even when presented with the opportunity to train overseas with her, he’s content to stay in Japan. This is clearly discouraging to Shizuku, who thinks Hyodo is “on another level” and considers herself “lucky he’s my partner.” The hero worship here made me a little wary of potential Sakura Syndrome, where a major female character acts only as a bystander or cheerleader, but the groundwork has been laid for Shizuku to undergo her own arc. Natsu from Baby Steps is a good model for how I hope her character is handled over the course of the series – always improving and competing against rivals of her own, even as she functions as a love interest for two different guys.

On the production side of things, the stills and CG dancers returned for another episode, but all was forgiven during one of the final scenes this week. During a solo practice session of Hyodo’s, the art became more sketch-like and the animation more fluid, giving a powerful, dynamic feel to his movements. Even if it only lasted for a few seconds, this willingness to break model and use a rougher style to capture a different energy is a confidence booster. I especially liked this choice given that Fujita was observing him, and needed to be inspired by what he saw to push the story forward. Speaking of Fujita, Shinba Tsuchiya is a breath of fresh air as his voice actor, imbuing the character with a nice blend of self-consciousness and enthusiasm. Tsuchiya is a newcomer to the seiyuu world, but he’s already drawing comparisons to Daiki Yamashita, who voices Deku on Boku no Hero Academia, so his future looks bright. Hopefully Ballroom’s future remains just as promising as the show starts covering multiple manga chapters per episode.

Posted on 8 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Currently Watching:

Much of the conversation leading up to the premiere of Ballroom e Youkoso has focused on its English distribution. Amazon, who continue to wade deeper into the anime marketplace, snapped up the series to headline their Anime Strike channel, and plenty of digital ink has been spilled about how its double paywall spells doom for the future of legal streaming. The first episode of Ballroom also had its worldwide debut on Twitch, where a live audience of thousands welcomed its delayed subtitles with KappaPride emotes, copypasta, and an obsession with the size of the characters’ necks. But let’s put all this aside for a moment and ask ourselves: did Production I.G. succeed in preserving the appeal of the manga in its journey from page to screen?

For me, the answer is “pretty much.” Ballroom is a plucky, well-paced series in manga form, and I.G. kept things rolling during the first episode, as well. They had to cut a few corners to get there, however, and one of them cost me some attachment to Fujita, our middle school protagonist. The manga presents him as a willing participant in his first group lesson, having been inspired by a professional dancer named Sengoku, who rescues him from a trio of bullies. The animated version of the story keeps Sengoku’s role the same, but omits the group lesson, and skips straight to a coerced partnership with Shizuku, his schoolmate and newfound crush. As a result, it was much harder for me to swallow the idea that Fujita wanted to go pro by the end of the episode, or that he’d lose track of time and practice the box step for what must have been twelve hours straight.

Luckily, the rest of Ballroom’s characters more than pull their weight. Sengoku initially appears to be a good-natured role model, but after witnessing Fujita’s sudden insistence on becoming a professional dancer, he seamlessly transforms into a drill sergeant with a chip on his shoulder. Similarly, Shizuku is suspicious of her temporary partner’s motives, and asks him directly whether he’s just a pervert looking for kicks. It’s only after he demonstrates some proficiency at a beginning technique that she gives him the time of day. This prickly behavior lets us know that ballroom dancing is no walk in the park, and that experienced dancers won’t take kindly to upstarts who haven’t put in the hours. Hopefully, the series will permit Fujita to struggle for as long as possible, and give us a glimpse at the mental fortitude necessary to compete even at the amateur level.

Perhaps the most worrisome thing about this premiere was the lack of any one expressive dance scene. Production I.G. has done some great work on Haikyuu!!, and given the visual similarities between that series and Ballroom, I assume that it’s being handled by the same team. My expectations were high coming into the episode, but even during the scene where Fujita gawked at a dance competition on DVD, there were low-detail models, panning stills, and even what looked like CG dancers in a couple spots. On the plus side, the character designs are strong, even if they’re not identical to the manga, and they’re expressive enough to cover for the holes in the animation department. Still, the first major burst of painstakingly-drawn dance choreography should be a treat to behold.

All in all, this was a good start to an adaptation of a manga that certainly deserved one. I’m already looking forward to the next episode, and to covering the series from week to week.

CHANGE USERNAME
Kaiser-Eoghan
I believe it works better in hellsing and drifters moreso to both being goofball action shows.
KTravlos
A point on the chibi in AMB. I was thinking about shows were the chibi did not bother me, and Hellsing Ultimate and Drifters (newest episodes coming out), both had deformed/chibi segments. For some reason they did not bother me. I think ABM directors have bad timing with them.
KTravlos
I have to say Ichirou Inuyashiki is very cool. Like he is really a cool character. Also I am saddened to say it but watching AMB together with Inuyashuki does not work well for AMB
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Silver: There are sad moments certainly but plenty of humour.
Anonymous1639132
Man, I sure hope Ichirou Inuyashiki and Hiro Shishigami make out, everything is just building up to that
silver
I actually have only watched one or two episodes of this season of 3-gatsu, but its rising scores and rave reviews are making me really excited! I've only put it off because it's somewhat emotionally tiring for me
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Well, after the first season of 3-gatsu ended, I did skim ahead to this bullying arc so I already know this is going to be powerful, yet the anime still wow me over and over
Anonymous1637770
Also it can be tricky selecting a season sequel since some old series had like 50 to 100 episodes, what counted as a season then?
Anonymous1637770
@Kaiser-Eoghan - It's more common in videogames (especially Capcom) than in other mediums. Megaman 2, RE 2, Street Fighter 2, Dino Crisis 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, etc.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually in a rarity, a sequel season is better than the first.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which makes my enjoyment of sangatsu so strange.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I generally do not like game/sports orientated shows.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That you slightlySuper-erMario and superwooper!
Kaiser-Eoghan
And my reaction to the show is such, that I enjoyed it enough to make such a huge pot about it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also I want Akari to be my mom and Hina is adorable without being annoyingly so and Kana Hanazawa is doing a good job voicing her.

And whoever said it is right, the op/ed songs are worth listening to, for once I’m not skipping them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
At this point it feels as if by the end of the series I’ll come off it thinking that I don’t want to say goodbye to these characters.
I don’t think as of just yet it complete lives up to honey and clovers legacy though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never cared about Harunobu initially, but recent episodes have changed this.
Dull parts of the manga are easier to get through for me in the anime due to Shaft elevating the material with one of the better uses of their visual gimmicks.
Giving the series another chance, even though I won’t fully embrace the humour, it does now and then manage to make me laugh a little.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The bullying arc centering on Hina and the shows treatment of it is better than most anime bullying stories and has provided the most emotionally rewarding aspect of the show.
Characters that are assholes like Kyouko’s boyfriend, Kyouko herself I’m finding somewhat more sympathetic and want to see more to their personal drama.
Kaiser-Eoghan
However I do genuinely think that the series does a good job of allowing dramatic moments to creep up on the viewer, that early scene of Hina crying over her mother, Rei’s family flashbacks, Akari’s concerns about Hina/the stuff with her dad, all the scenes with Kyouko do carry an effective and solid dramatic weight to them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel it starts very strong, making a great first impression, then kind of has these dull moments that make it sort of a slog at times to get through, unfortunately I have no interest in chess/shougi and no knowledge the show tries to give me is going to stick or allow me to embrace that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Through jumping back and forth between the anime and manga, I can say I have no caught up to where I will now watch March comes like a lion on a weekly basis.
Anonymous1636224
The blood of the innocent will flow without end, mmmmmm this is why I love Inuyashiki
Anonymous1636224
Mmmmmm the suffering of all those innocent people feeding his God boner, this is why I love Inuyashiki
Lenlo
Oh yeah, thats not a knock against it. Just noting they dont *need* much animation
SuperMario
Well, the nature of Mahoutsukai is slow-burned, so it makes sense they focus more on static, quiet moments
Lenlo
Was that blade 2022 thing supposed to be an example? Because I wasnt a fan. It was stylish sure, but difficult to follow.
Lenlo
Maho is a good looking show, I wouldnt call it a great animated show.
Lenlo
The issue for me is, theres just not alot being animated most of the time. Usually its a pretty slow moving anime, so most of its time is talking and still shots. It doesnt need alot of animation, so it doesnt have it.
Lenlo
@Niel, I think Mahoutsukai can have good animation when it wants to. Like the water viel in episode 10 looked good (Though im not sure how much of that was after effects)
Anonymous1635607
uhhh creepy
Anonymous1635589
the blood of the innocent will flow without end, mmmm this is why I love Inuyashiki so much
Amagi
I think the security is the same as here, it's just that Japanese people are less likely to rip stuff (correct me if I am wrong). It seems like ripped anime, manga and so on are basically always uploaded by Americans, Chinese people or someone else.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised heavens feel was camripped I thought security in japanese theatres was stronger.
Amagi
Yeah it's also screening in Germany, I will watch it in February, together with Heaven's Feel, Mutafukaz, Kimikoe and a few others.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*on Europa cinema
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nanoha new film to screen next February in the US, come in Europa license it for over here dammit....
Kaiser-Eoghan
Did have some down moments though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I guess contrasting Luke with his old self goes some way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Saw the preview screening of the new star wars, still feel the new trilogy stands inbetween the originals and prequels, fufills its duty as a *** star blockbuster , some genuinely hilarious high camp moments, awful tokenism, Snoke is a shit villain, but two scenes with Luke actually have a pathos to them and I liked the chase/action scenes when they happened. Nobody cares about the acting/dialogue
AidanAK47
But there are times when it goes way too far and you can barely make out what is even supposed to be happening. Or characters go so off model that they are unrecognizable. It can be immersion breaking. Much like uncanny CGI.
AidanAK47
@Niel, I do agree that it's annoying to see people complain about animation when they clearly have no idea what they are talking about. Like those inbetween frame screenshot people. But I will say I appreciate on model characters more so than chaotic movement. When the off model stuff suits the tone of the scene like that blade runner part, then it's fine.
niel
I also don't want to see someone imply visual=animation for the hundredth time. Are people really that ignorant of the technical/artistic aspect of the media they consumed?
niel
It just depends on what works best in given scene and the aesthetic they want to go for. People can complain all they want about off-model stuff, but if they really only want that the they won't be getting nearly as much of those impactful scenes as there are now. So many of the ways people complain about it is really irking to me.
niel
normal/low action scenes is different from being on-model during the action sequences and just the ones that need some extra impact in general. https://youtu.be/rrZk9sSgRyQ?t=6m45s
niel
But that depends on the situation though. And I'd argue that being consistent and on-model during
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter/Niello/Mario: Ideally I want it both ways, fluid animation AND consistent model visuals, all the while never sacrificing choreography.
SuperMario
But really, who am I to say. I'm the dude who prefer beautiful shot composition myself
SuperMario
The same can be said with Shinkai's movies since he always prefers static, beautiful shot that people tend to overlook that his animation is quite poorly handled
Vonter
You're right, but art direction does alleviate limited animation, I mean the old Berserk anime, kinda has a lot of slideshow moments. MahoYome has nice backgrounds, and despite the samey faces, at the very least doesn't come from the same mold as other series. Still cutting corners with chibi segments is was a mistake.
SuperWooper
Is it any wonder that people prefer things to be static/on-model? They want to see characters who look consistent and familiar so they can relate to them.
Nie
MahoYome being the biggest offender of people getting triggered to any kind of statement about the show's animation not being good. And it's absurd because the show's animation really isn't great at all. It's good with distracting people with pretty pictures, but animation-wise it's still mediocre.
Nie
@SuperMario: Not much. Just stuff like "Art is part of the animation weather it's beautiful backgrounds or just amazing looking characters. It's not all about how they move. If it was, CG would be considered great animation" multiple times. I've just been finding myself being replied with these kinds of comment non-stop since the start of the season.
SuperMario
@Niello: What happened exactly, if you don't me asking?
Nielllo
If I hear someone says AMB has good animation one more tie I might actually lose it. It's amazing how people who apparently know nothing about it try to defend this and other people who don't know anything are actually supporting the guy.
Niello
So with Fate Apocrypha episode 22 out, I'm just now learning that people think webgen style is horrible and they prefer static scenes with pretty visual over actual quality animation. WTF. I can't comprehend this. Are casual people who watch animation in general really that oblivious to the art they have been watching?
Lenlo
Berserks Dynasty Warriors style game looked better. Also, Mahoutsukai should be up tonight/tomorrow. Turns out, Christmas is a busy time of year at this job.
Amagi
*worse
Amagi
Especially when you consider how good CGI can be by now, look at Houseki or Kado. But Berserk was the worst thing I saw in years, many scenes felt worst than sequences of PSX games
Amagi
@SuperMario: Same. I love Kon and also consider Paprika's OST as the best. @Lenlo: Me too. I honestly even enjoyed the movies but the new series was atrocious
Lenlo
HIRASAWAAAA! HAAAAAI YOOOOO.
I miss the 90s Berserk.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was also quite fond of his soundtracks for Berserk. AIIIIIYE FORCES : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkYYYew8CUI
SuperMario
@Amagi: I'm a big fan of Kon so I've watched everything from his. Even bought a book about his works. About the soundtrack, I listened to them as well but not regularly, compare to pprika OST which I downloaded and listen to a lot
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although not completely a manga, Usagi yojimbo also has an anthro character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Millennium actress is partially inspired by the actress Setsuko Hara.
Amagi
@Kaiser-Eoghan: The anthro-animal manga is even a topseller as far as I know. Haven't looked into it yet, though. Maybe I will do so.
Amagi
Speaking of it, I am still hoping Dream Machine will happen some day. Kon died believing it would happen
Amagi
@SuperMario: Have you tried the other Kon movies like Millennium Actress once? Thought they were really good and Hirasawa is responsible for the OST there too. Or Paranoia Agent which was (IMO) very good as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nttSKBJ38k (OP)
Niello
Eoghan: Enjoy... ;)
Kaiser-Eoghan
While I haven't read this, its very strange to see a manga about full anthro animal characters: http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Beastars
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: So based on that I will try devil lady. Thanks.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: That'd be me who made that post. I thought dororon enma-kun was wonderfully ridiculous and Devilman gorishly entertaining, Shin Mazinger Z was probably some of the most fun I had with an anime, but violence jack took it way too far though so I guess I'm aquainted with nagai's work
Vonter
I don't remember who was looking for something noir in anime. I was looking among several series from Go Nagai. And watched some Devil Lady. I don't remember if noir is exclusively detective stories, but this anime, has those high contrast shadows, eerie music and is shot like some japanese horror movies I've seen. I don't know if it changes along the road but so far it's very suspenseful.
SuperMario
I only know him through his works in Berserk and Paprika but his music never fails to amaze me
Anonymous1626471
@Amagi: Ghost Bridge is my favourite. I just find it very calming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeh5aJsxlbw
Amagi
Susumu Hirasawa is one of my favorite musicians/composers. I don't even know what kind of subgenre this is. There aren't any other music groups I know who do similar stuff
Nielllo
@Mario, Already saw that video before.
SuperMario
Check this out... I don't even know what the freaking instrument he's playing, but it's spellbound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjalQjAomH0
Niello
Just when I thought Houseki no Kuni took the prize for best animation I was treated with Apocrypha. This week is amazing.
Niello
Big name animators all over. They really threw everything they've got here.
Niello
Woooooah! OMG Apocrypha ep 22 animation is sick! So that's why the animation in the first half of the show is so lackluster and basically just darn awful.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its not entirely odd to bring up Heydrich in relation to the occult either, apparently he was said to be part of some whackjob order.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hmmm, that girl from Dies irae, Anna Schwegln is aptly named, also shares her name with the last executed person for witchcraft, who was Bavarian German, which i'm told by an Austrian friend were particular right-est leaning politically.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of course unfortunately its often the opposite that happens, nothing is worse than an ending that ruins everything.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, how I love being surprised by something. That feeling where you''re watching something shakily held together, simply okay or good, then suddenly in the second half or last stretch your score of it goes massively up.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can kind of understand the wanting to go home and watch something easy mentality instead of challenging but even though I'm guilty of escapism, I'm tired somewhat of "sillier" stuff, its often enjoyable but its get overly reptitive and I wish I could find more philosophical/political/imaginative things.
Amagi
Yeah the show is great because of its theme, the setting and chemistry girls have as well as their (lack of) knowledge about basic human things. Each episode thematizes this in a different way but there isn't much you can talk or say about it when you already explained the topic in detail.
SuperMario
On the other hand, I don't have much to talk about Girls' Last Tour this week. It's still good, but with this episode I feel that I'm running out of concrete thig to say about the show
SuperMario
Haha both Houseki and 3-gatsu have a good showing this week. I have a lot of things to talk about Houseki in particular
Amagi
This week's Houseki is jurassic park
Amagi
*-ati - I think Netflix and so are at least giving a few new impulses which isn't too bad. I don't think the typical anime series will disappear because of that.
Amagi
At least in comparisation
Amagi
I think it's just sad how often I see wonderful series selling 500 BD/DVD or maybe even less. Most series don't sell more than 1500 or so and the rest is usually at ~3000-5000 which is still pretty low.
Amagi
Yeah, it's one of my pro-Netflix arguments as well. Another problem is that anime (not counting manga) only make money through dvd/bd sales since they air at night, whereas Netflix or daytime tv series don't depend on the latter so much and since anime BDs are so expensive the only ones who buy them are the more extreme fans.
AidanAK47
Might be in part due to the workaholic nature of their society that makes escapist fantasy and empty entertainment more appealing than usual. Ultimately these are the people anime is made for so opening up the markets gives more deserving shows a fighting chance.
Though that isn't to say that western taste is perfect either.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, That's part of the reason I think some westernation might be a good thing as from what I seen the Japanese have truly terrible taste in anime. Sales charts from Japan just make me shake my head.
Amagi
God, the preorder anime lists are atricious. The only one that seems to sell acceptable (around 6k) is Mahoyome. Series like Inuyashiki have 80 pre-orders so far, Shuumatsu Shoujo 977. Idol shows sell good of course, including that male/bishounen Idolmaster
AidanAK47
@Anon, I read it but kinda fell out due to it's releases being slow.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Actually if you check the manga recommendations section, you'll see there is a post about it here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Yes, it was interesting to follow a story that dealt with a characters homosexuallity that was outside of the yaoi/yuri mould.
Anonymous1620968
Out of curiosity, has anyone on here read Shimanami Tasogare?
Niello
Where are we up to with Inuyashiki?
Lenlo
Well alright then. Episode 9 out of 11 and that happens. Was not expecting that
Lenlo
Ooo something happen this week? Im about to watch it
Kaiser-Eoghan
It feels just as rushed and awkward in the manga.
Amagi
I noticed this too
AidanAK47
Inuyashiki has balls of steel to pull that in this particular episode number.
Nielllo
Finally got around to reading Helck, and it looks like it's going to go into that pile of good-shounen-that-won't-ever-get-animated right alongside Psyren.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Imagine trying to buy the dvds of the show in public.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Gentle remind that the prism ilya movie is out and subbed.
AidanAK47
Still surprised the second and third seasons got dubbed.
AidanAK47
@Angel, I replied to one of your comments before but the rundown is no official word yet but maybe next year.
Angel
Or no? Someone please tell me!!
Angel
Going to happen?
Angel
Is fate/kaleid liner prisma☆illya 3rei dub
Amagi
I dislike it when manga bait me into reading due to the first chapter and end up being some very generic stuff afterwards. Nobody stays for B if he started something for A, authours should expect that.
Lenlo
Really, Juuni should stick with the 3D. That fight in ep 9 looked pretty good. 3D is clearly what they are good at
AidanAK47
@Niello, It's not Chatango. It's a plugin for wordpress called Wisechat.
SuperMario
@Niello: yeah, Juuni caught me off guard this week. The production of Juuni is unfortunately shaky, but well, strong writing can save the day
Niello
Btw is this chat still Chatango?
Niello
This week episode of Juini is surprisingly good compared to how the show usually is with its backstory. Although the part where Ox tries to explain to Tiger could definitely use some visual buff.
SuperWooper
in the future*
SuperWooper
Pretty cool that Juuni Taisen had that kind of emotional heft this week, though. Might be one of the 2017 shows I sample the in the future.
SuperWooper
I think the occasional comments with an episode title and nothing more come from people who mistake the shoutbox for a search bar.
SuperMario
@Anon1614688: juuni taisen... made me tearing up this week. Honestly didn't expect that. Damn you, Tiger
Anonymous1614688
juuni taisen
Amagi
Had some complaints regarding Children of Whales but the latest two episodes were pretty good.
Amagi
@Anon: You explained it better than me.
Anonymous1614307
Kaiser: I actually have the exact same opinion of Natsume and Mushishi. Both are excellent, but Natsume just does a great job with a small core cast and a very simple premise
Anonymous1614456
who likes naruto
Kaiser-Eoghan
Mushishi does have good stories, but it was always a manga I'd dip in and out of, on and off for years, never marathoning it, wheras Natsume was easier to read several chapters of in one go.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think its because Natsume has more pathos.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*more than
Natsume weirdly ended up becoming this comfort manga for me with a higher consistency rate .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I will state that I hold the terrible opinion that I like Natsume Yujinchou than Mushishi but at the same time completely recognize that Mushishi is probably the more ambitious, better show.
Niello
So it becomes a cycle of "this is an interesting set up" (except that the new Kino isn't even good at that) and then they fucked up or Kino/Shizu fucked them up even more, then move on. Without the emphasis on philosophical nature of the set up they present like in the original Kino, there really isn't that much point to it.
Niello
With the new Kino it's more about messing people up, occassionally observing and hardly ever improving. The anwsers or solutions to the problem they present is never really talked about in a rational way.
SuperMario
@Anon1614318: maybe you should give the old Kino a try. What I don't like most about the new version of Kino is that both Kino and the new guy are sketched as hero. The old Kino manages the tone right as well. There were some really dark tales and most of them thought-provoking. Can't say the same for say...Country of Cooking
Anonymous1614318
I don't know, it might be interesting to actually dig deep into the differences between episodic series with this kind of style to see what works and what doesn't.
Anonymous1614318
I guess it's a matter of the chapter they chose to adapt were not really the better ones but the ones where the protagonist is more of an active role. Not totally against that, but it feels like the protagonist is just OP all the time. At least with Mushishi Ginko isn't able to save everyone all the time.
Anonymous1614318
I guess it's supposed to be more allegorical, but most of the time the allegory is not really meaningful enough. I thought it would be more along the lines of Mushishi, which is kind of similar in setup, but better in most other ways.
Anonymous1614318
What keeps me sticking around are some of the nice background arts and generally pleasant use of color, but admittedly most of the episodes aren't really engaging in a meaningful way. Most of the time its just Kino/Shizu show up, find out town's gimmick, then save the day. I prefer the episodes where the townspeople are more than just flat background characters.
Anonymous1614318
It's interesting to see how this new Kino season is being received from folks who've already watched the original. This is my first real exposure to Kino, and I kind of like it, but even without watching the original, I share many of the same complaints Aidan and most of the others have.
Amagi
I am also kinda sad he's just some 2* servant in fgo, but his power is special and he's physically weak, so it's understandable.
Amagi
And again, Shakespeare is just great but the character is, sadly, kinda wasted here considering how much screentime he has.
Amagi
@Aidan: Yes. Plus, maybe more characterization or background for some servants. The anime would have that time without Sieg and his romance sub plot.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, Those being remove Sieg and more Shakespeare?
Amagi
And man Apocrypha is pretty good but it would be twice as good if it had those two changes Aidan always mentions in the reviews..
Amagi
@Kaiser: I think the male in Kino was a mistake. Having two PoV sounds good, but he's basically just a male Kino, he even looks like her. Someone vastly different would have been way more interesting.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd guarantee that sangatsu no lion would be high up, but FINALLY this weekend I'll be catching up.
Niello
@Kaiser, Ugh my phone gitched. What I meant to say was that background was unexpected. Now I see why you're enjoying CotW though.
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Featured Posts

Juuni Taisen – 11 [To Treat a Man to Beef From His Own Cow]

To the surprise of no one, Rat wins the race by breaking in the right place at the right time with the right weapon. This is by no mean a coincidence, because later on we learn about Rat’s real power: “Hundred Paths of Nezumi-chan”, in which he can see 100 various outcomes and thus picking […]

Mahoutsukai no Yome – 10 [We Live and Learn]

Welcome to week 10 of Mahoutsukai! Finally, oh so finally, we have are given some backstory on Elias! Our mysterious male(?) lead gets some explanation. We also get the start of a Chise only arc and finally some more information on Lindel. Lets jump in! As the main focus of this weeks episode, naturally I […]

Dies Irae – 09[A Mother’s Sins]

DIes Irae isn’t making this easy for the anime only watcher, as we get confused montages of Lisa’s backstory and oddly of a character whose relevance doesn’t come till a much later date. I would say it’s rather spoiler-ish if the info wasn’t presented in such a haphazard way that no one could really decode […]

Girls’ Last Tour – 10 [Train – Wavelength – Capture]

Girls’ Last Tour examines the concept of time and space this week, as the girls riding on a lonely moving train. The train design fits right in with this world: a long metal box that functions all by itself and contains many now-dysfunctional robots – corpses of the machines. Since last week we learnt that […]

Kino’s Journey -The Beautiful World- – 10[Kind Country]

Another remake of a story from the old series and while this one is adapted quite well, maybe even arguably better than the old version, it unfortunately lacks the same impact. The main problem comes back to the thing which ultimately holds back this season as a whole, story choice. For you see in the […]

Houseki no Kuni – 10 [Shiro]

This week proves to be the most action-packed episode Houseki has been offering so far and unconventionally, it’s Dia who takes the central stage at facing the most ridiculously overpowered Lunarian Titan to date. Well, I said “unconventionally”, but when the narration and the execution (the camera work, in particular) come together in such neat […]

Fate/Apocrypha – 22[Reunion and Farewell]

Breaking my usual routine today just to give an opinion on this episode but this episode made me feel compelled to get out my opinion. We have another action packed episode with three contestants out of the war and boy did they go out with a bang. Many will notice that the animation for this […]

Inuyashiki – 9 [Shihjuku People]

Welcome to another week of Inuyashiki! This week we have incredible sequences of terror, fearless Directors and death flags! Lets jump in. Obviously, the first thing we need to talk about this week is Hiro. A lot has happened in the few hours since Hiro attacked the Station. Interestingly, yet weirdly, Hiro has garnered a […]

Fate/Apocrypha – 21[Antares Snipe]

When Apocrypha slows down, it’s story shows it’s cracks. But when it’s an action showcase it actually becomes quite entertaining. The characters don’t have the time to be developed but they shine in combat when they clash, sometimes showing parts of themselves the series otherwise doesn’t allow for. Astolfo for one was actually useful for […]

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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

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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

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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 […]

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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 […]

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