Posted on 8 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, One Punch Man S2

God damnit OPM. I thought we were past this, I thought we could get along. It was my hope, after these last two episodes, that you could make it. I was wrong. This week OPM disappoints me, and I once again get to go on a rant. Jump in if you dare.

Right off the bat, and I am gonna do this for a few hundred words, let’s talk production. My god, did OPM trip and fall down a ditch this week. There’s so much to talk about here, I have to split it into sections. Starting off, animation. Not only was it limited, reusing it in the same god damn fight, but what little good OPM had was covered up. Flashing screens, cut to black with flashes of light and shaky cam ruin whatever punch any of the fights could have had. Combine that with terrible direction, ruining the flow of blows, and it just becomes a mess. One redditor described it aptly as “The fight wanted itself to end”. Then there’s Metal Knight, flying around like a static image through the sky. This sequence could have been amazing and instead we got… a PowerPoint presentation.

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Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Dororo

Welcome one and all to the best episode of Dororo this cour! The animation is still disappointing, but the story is returning to form. Lets jump in!

Starting off, I have to say, it’s good to see Dororo getting back in form. Not production wise of course, no it’s a mess on that front. With delayed blood sprays and reused clips. It gets even worse when compared to the flashback clips shown in this very episode. No no, I am talking about the story, because this week we finally get back to the family drama. For the first time since the 2nd cour started up, Dororo has returned to its primary plot. Focusing not on combat or side stories, however they might connect into the story, but on the characters and what has happened to them. Suffice to say, this made me really happy, however bad it looked. So that said, spoilers after the break, and let’s go.

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Posted on 6 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fruits Basket (2019)

For me, watching Fruits Basket is like watching a classic play. It’s the show where despite its familiar story beats, it still pulls out a satisfying emotional core because its heart is in the right place. This episode is a prime example of that. I know this will eventually happen, Tohru moving to Souma’s house has always been a temporary plan and it’s only a matter of time before she has to choose between this new family and her own. I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, however, as it does just right after the introduction phase. Like a good old play, the plot is fairy predictable, but the lines are there where they needed to be, and the characters deliver those lines with so much weight. Take the scene-stealing character of this week, Grandpa, for example. He serves as a comedic relief; he mostly stays out of his family’s affair but when he decides to jump in, he more than delivers the blow. What makes his speech so great is that not only he points out the assholeness of his family (damn, they’re true bitch), but he allows Tohru to pick the one she feels like home. He might mistake her name to her mother’s, but he sure knows about her more than the rest of the family does.

This is the first time that the titular “Fruits Basket” comes into play, and it further engraves the core theme of the show nicely. The very theme of Fruits Baskets is the feeling of belonging, and the sadness of feeling left out. When Tohru plays the game as a child, she was labeled something that isn’t even a fruit, and thus waiting forever to get called out by her friends. It parallels to her current status where she doesn’t really have anything to belong (up until she knows about Souma’s family). To that extend both Yuki and Ryou suffer from the same sense of alienation. Ryou for not being an original zodiac and desperately try his best to be included, and Yuki for the exact opposite reason, him as a member of the Zodiac that is too “weird” and “exclusive” to even have friends. These main characters more often or not are too aware of their loneliness, and momentarily accepts that as their fate. Tohru has learn a big way to step out of that mindset, and “being selfish” for once. Because, being selfish means she does care about her relationship to both Kyou and Yuki.

It’s also nice to see Kyou and Yuki are both on edge with the departure of Tohru. Although vastly different in their personality, this week is the first time where they share the same things: not only their attraction to Tohru, but also their stubbornness to even acknowledge that they care. This is Fruits Basket as its most emotional satisfying (so far), and I can’t wait to see more of the supporting cast. I don’t know how the original anime handles the material, but this version succeeds because it honors the source material, by understand what makes the source great and faithfully transfer it on screen, even at the cost of the polishness of its production values.

Posted on 5 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kimetsu no Yaiba

Another week, another saturday morning cartoon episode of Yaiba. This week we finish up the exam, Nezuko wakes up and Tanjiro gets a fancy sword. Lets jump in!

As always, the visuals are great. Ufotable does right by Yaiba every week on this front. I have gone over the big stuff multiple times though, so instead, I want to take not of some smaller details. For instance, I love how Yaiba is employing the masks. They inform a bit about a person’s character, and also saves them time on animation. Letting them instead do a lot of character animation, such as Haganezuka’s waving arms. It’s something I think is worth pointing out. Another detail was the sound design this week, specifically the music. There were a lot of moments that were enhanced by it. I can’t comment or not on how “traditional” it actually is, but I quite enjoyed the string’s aspect of it. With Yuki Kaijura at the helm here though, this isn’t really surprising. However repetitive her style can be, fact is, it’s a good style.

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Posted on 3 May 2019 with categories: Carole & Tuesday, Currently Watching:

With the episode title as telling as “Video Killed the Radio Star”, it’s “appropriate” that Carole & Tuesday this week is entirely about the duo making their DIY music video. While many of my previous issues remain the same, this is one of the joyous week we have with the team so far. Episode 4 is also the first time where I feel it brings the aesthetic of the titular song to life, and we have some more insights to Gus’s former life. In fact, it’s the supporting characters who pretty much steal the spotlight this week, particularly the scam AI robot IDEA, Gus and his ex-wife, Marie. If there’s one thing that I appreciate this episode attempting to address, it’s that the queer baiting going rather strong this week. Not only Carole & Tuesday doesn’t shy from confirming Marie’s current lesbian relationship (thumb up!), the bartender where Gus frequents seem to have a hot for him as well. That not to mention about Ertergun’s affection to Roddy. I believe this factor works for the show’s benefits as it adds some layers to the world culture (which, in case you haven’t catched up, is in the same universe as Space Dandy as well).

So after the failed plan last week, the group has another idea: making a music video, to a disastrous result. The moral of this story: read the goddamn reviews before buying a product. It got only 1 star out of 2058 reviews. The star here is of course the self-proclaimed robot director who drinking beer, taking a shower while drinking beer and bullying other robot while taking a shower because yes, why the hell not. The trick here is to give character a personality, and it’s all the funnier when it’s a robot. All the scenes revolving around the shootings are fun, especially the gags aim at Roddy. Poor Roddy has to dance more than 120 times by himself, has his mint-edition figures destroyed, and the luxury car that he borrowed is ruined in a flash. I have a good laugh watching the intentionally-bad CG models music video that robot creates at the end. It would’ve been fine if they upload the video just based on how unashamedly dreadful it looks.

Meanwhile, in order to fulfill the unreasonable request from our director, Gus seeks out help from his ex-wife, Marie. They share a good, albeit conventional, chemistry together, but I suspect that now that she has her “happy ending”, she might not appear that often anymore. We see how she still has high regard for Gus, that he used to be a big shot in the industry, and that he still has an eye for talents. Despite the supporting cast that are fun to watch, it’s the titular characters who actually are too plain and need more development. It feels like they are blending into the background right now. As the last note,It’s neat to catch real life inspiration on the way these characters prefer their music video to bel: Carole wants Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Roddy (being a nerd) prefers something along the line with A-ha, Gus likes a Marvel’s copycat and a romantic Tuesday wants something too generic that to even tell the real inspiration, maybe this one?

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Sarazanmai

Despite the staff mentioned in early weeks that episode was gonna be a game-changer, nothing happens out of ordinary this week (except maybe for the after-credits reveal, which has become Sarazanmai tradition now). Prior to what Kazuki said (which kinda negate what I’m about to say), I’d single out the similarities in these main characters’ relationships. It’s true that the main theme regarding the trio is their “connections” to the ones they love, but this episode makes it quite clear that they’re in for destructive relationships themselves. A good analogy is that they’re charging their heads into the thick wall. “I’ve decided I’d live by nii-san’s side for his sake, I don’t care what anyone says about me”, Toi said so in the episode. The issue with all that is, the other person doesn’t ask for it. Whether it’s Toi’s brother Chikai, Kazuki’s bedridden brother Haruka, or Haruki himself don’t really want to receive that connection, not that way anyway. For Toi, Ikuhara has planted many symbolic objects that inform his relationship to others, and they are udon, gun, lollipop. For example, the motif of this week, udon, tells us about his relationship to his family. Gun represents his leap to this dark, violent upbringing and serves as the loss of innocence for him. Finally, lollipop represents what maybe his devotion to his brother. But on that last point I’m not going into details because the imagery of Lolita messed me up.

I’d regard this episode a success, if not for the fact that it brings up the conflict of Kazuki asked Toi to help him kidnapping the idol girl Sara Azuma, and then completely abandons that plot thread. So did Haruka be able to meet the real Sara Azuma? The way Kazuki seems to be oblivious of a lot of things (last week’s Enta’s crush and this week Toi’s problem) start to get on my nerve. His character is very inconsistent for me so far and I don’t think I am fond of it. Not because of the cliffhanger by all mean. Actually I believe the reveal that he doesn’t cosplay for his brother’s sake make their relationship more intriguing. As for now I suppose it’s a mixture between love/hate relationship, like he might be jealous with all the attention his brother has, but we won’t know for sure until we see more of his motive. That reveal makes me wonder, then, that maybe Haruka knows about Kazuki impersonating after all?

The flashback of Toi, on the other hand, is quite solid overall. One important detail from his backstory is that he was the one who pulled the trigger, and that his brother shot the poor man down so that Toi doesn’t carry the guilt. On the visual side the flashback goes for more simple, soft art-styles, which works wonderfully for me. Sarazanmai also ties up his past with the case of this week, soba Man and his crime of stealing a freaking bathwater because he wanted it as a soba broth. Now that the trio all have their turns in the spotlight, and now that the Cops promise to be more active, it’s time for Sarazanmai to shake off this current formula and take a new direction. Well, it better be given more than one third of its length is already gone.

Sarazanmai weekly lottery: what crazy object is going to float around next week? 4 episodes and Ikuhara hasn’t disappointed once. My random 3-take for next week: lollipop (Toiiii), dress (since Kazuki crossdresses), and elephant (I don’t fucking know why but now that idea won’t leave my head)

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Serial Experiments Lain

Welcome one and all to another season of Throwback Thursday! I see you all really wanna screw with my mind, cause this time its Serial Experiments Lain! You can find it, legally, for free on Youtube posted by Funimation. Feel free to follow along. Now let’s jump in!

First, like always, production. Whew, Lain is weird. Like, I thought Paranoia Agent was weird, but Lain one ups it. Stark white backgrounds in contrast with shadows, blowing out all the scenes. It kind of reminds me of Steins;Gate’s first episode, and the heat haze. Setting up this “wrong” feeling for the rest of the season, telling you right out the gate that this series is going to be… weird. The sound design is also fantastic, really setting the discomfort throughout the episode. Cutting in and out with our lead, Lain’s, attention. Not only do I think this is very interesting from a direction standpoint, but the actual sounds themselves were well done. For example, during the dinner with her family, the sound effects on the glass and tableware was great. As was the train or classroom. However, Lain doesn’t stop the weirdness here, no. It’s just getting started.

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Posted on 2 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, One Punch Man S2

Hello and welcome to another surprising episode of One Punch Man Season 2! This week OPM gives us another S-Class Hero, Garo’s past and some cool monsters. Lets dive in!

Starting off, I have to say, JC Staff is surprising me. OPM’s animation is actually pretty good, the Centisenpai cuts were fantastic. Not just in comparison to the rest of this season, but as standalone cuts. Check below the break for a clip of that. If JC Staff, and more specifically Kenichiro Aoki who animated this and Tank-Top Masters cuts, can keep this up the season has hope yet. All they have to do is nail the finale and I will be content here. I don’t know what in god’s name happened in episode 1 and 2, but they are in no way representative of the final product so far. Sure, the gradient is still crap and so to are some of the filters. But the actual animation? The 2D animation layered over CGI? Credit where it’s due, JC Staff isn’t completely bombing this.

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Posted on 1 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Dororo

Welcome all to another week of Dororo! This time Hyakki takes a break, Dororo hangs out with an old friend, and we meet a cannibal. Good times. Lets jump in!

Starting off, after the travesty that was episode 15, let’s talk production. While it’s still nothing stunning, Dororo has returned to its usually mostly acceptable with blips of good quality. I say mostly acceptable because there wasn’t much actual action this week. Consisting mostly of pans and stills, Dororo still has yet to match its first cour. The best we have gotten so far was Saburomaru, the shark, diving out of the ocean. Yet I could almost have been fooled into thinking it was just sliding up the screen. It’s a disappointing that, were the direction still not strong, would have Dororo losing me. As it is, visually I am only really hanging in there for Dororo’s interesting direction. Such as our return to the flashback and its bright red flowers against a field of shades of grey. Story wise though, Dororo remains strong.

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Posted on 30 April 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mix

How long is this prologue going to last, I wonder? Not that I’m complaining – Mix is probably my favorite spring series so far, even if it’s not the boldest or best-looking of the bunch. My current assumption is that the bulk of the story will be spent chasing the Koushien dream, but with Meisei’s middle school having qualified for the Tokyo Tournament, that goal seems a long way off. And the main characters are only in their second year, so we’re likely to get a full season with Touma as a starting pitcher before he even enters high school. This is all sort of worrisome, as Mix has just 80 chapters under its belt, and 9 have gone into these first four episodes. I’d hate for a series like this one, which takes its time in peeling back the layers of its cast, to run out of material too quickly. But perhaps I’m thinking too long term, as before the story can move forward, Nikaidou’s stranglehold on the title of starting pitcher will have to be loosened.

Something is clearly up with Nikaidou, despite his winning streak. The Tachibana brothers are quick to make light of his pitching ability, but this is owed more to their prodigious talent than anything else. Souichiro’s head isn’t so high in the sky, though, that he can’t sense when his battery mate is having an off day. At a practice shortly after their victory in the prelim finals, Sou remarks to his brother that there’s even less juice behind Nikaidou’s pitches than normal. This doesn’t set off any alarm bells for the boys, but it should for the viewers at home. Coupled with his early departures from practice and his absence from the early innings of the team’s current game, it’s clear that Nikaidou is hurt. In fact, he may be dealing with a lasting illness, which would totally recontextualize the preferential treatment he’s been given thus far. His obnoxious father and nepotistic coach may simply want him to experience as much playing time as possible, before his sickness advances too far.

There are a handful of intriguing baseball moments here that don’t involve Meisei’s ace, such as the introduction of new rival Nishimura. He gets a freeze frame for his first appearance, signaling that he’ll be important down the line (an opponent lasting into the show’s high school years, perhaps). Nishimura takes an interest in Touma after watching him throw a bullet from third to first, which was one of the episode’s better moments from a production standpoint. I nearly felt first baseman Imakawa’s recoil through my screen, making Touma’s rocket arm a tangible trait rather than a subject of much conversation. Most of the non-athletic moments weren’t animated nearly as well, but they were a delight to watch anyway, as has been typical of Mix so far. My particular favorite was the teasing between Otomi and Touma, where she feigns surprise at his preparation for a big interim exam. The secret ingredient to this scene is that she enters the room twice: once to get homework help from Sou, and a second time after the reality of her stepbrother’s uncharacteristic studiousness kicks in. Their banter is kept light for now, but we’ll be in for some stepsibling romance down the line if this keeps up. Despite the taboo, that’s the element of the show that most piques my interest, so I hope none of it is omitted in the transition from page to screen.

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