Posted on 16 January 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Planetes, Throwback Thursday

If there is one thing I have lost watching seasonal anime, it is patience. Every week I expect something to happen, some kind of payoff, to make watching that week worth it. Luckily, Planetes as brought that back to me. Its depth of writing, characters, and general structure belay an anime of a different age. Before Moe and Sis-con took over the seasons. Back when a series was allowed to take things at its own pace, and actually finish its story rather than languishing in sequel hell. Of course, what else can you expect from the first work of Makoto Yukimura, the author of currently published Vinland Saga.

Lets jump in!

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Posted on 11 January 2019 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello all and welcome to both the finale of Planetes and the first run of Throwback Thursday. This week we learn what became of Tanabe and Claire, Hachi and Hakim, and wrap everything up with a nice big bow. Lets jump in!

Starting off, I want to say I think Planetes closed out the series well. It managed to resolve almost every plot thread. Every character got some kind of resolution to their story, and yet not a single one of them died. That takes some talent to pull off. The big one that I thought had absolutely no reason to work, but did, was Tanabe and Hachi’s 2nd attempt at romance. I said before that their romance felt forced, that they simply weren’t compatible. Planetes managed to take their differences though and through their growth, have them reconcile those differences in a way that does fit together. Tanabe got brought down to Earth, losing some naivete, while Hachi got rid of his loner attitude. Both through well done, believable sequences.

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Posted on 4 January 2019 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Welcome to the penultimate week of Planetes, and the first Throwback Thursday in awhile to actually release on a Thursday! This week Planetes proves me wrong, executes a fantastic climax and makes me excited for the final week. Lets jump in!

First and foremost, credit to Tayo Jones in our comments section for calling me out on it, I was impatient and wrong. Planetes knocked it out of the park this week, regardless what I expected. I think that last week, with all the rigors of the holidays and what have you, I was simply impatient and not in a good place to enjoy Planetes. This week however, Planetes took everything it had built up for Hachimaki and Tanabe’s characters, their romance include, and just smashed it. Threw it on the ground, shattered it into a million pieces and said “And now, we put them back together, but better”. And I loved it. Hachi has been learning a lot about himself in recent episodes, so for Planetes to do the same for Tanabe? A rather static character up until now for the most part. Beautiful. But, let’s get into specifics.

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Posted on 31 December 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Thunderbolt Fantasy

If anyone has been familiar with the first season of Thunderbolt Fantasy, you’d find yourself a lot to enjoy in this second installment. Served as a sequel, but not a direct continuation to the first, viewers don’t need the knowledge of the original in order to enjoy this ride. Thunderbolt 2 carries many trademarks that make this show such an install success since it came out: the puppetry technique makes it an unique viewing experience amongst anime fandom; the larger the life characters whose characters are the central protagonist in their own stories; the camp value of cheesy lines and back-and-forth conversations; and the somewhat unpredictableness of the plot. It serves as an entertaining and engaging ride on its own right, but to be fair, it’s pale compare to the freshness of the first season.

In this second season, we have a whole new supporting cast aside from our hero Shang Bu Huan and Gui Niao the Enigmatic Gale. The cast includes Lang Wu Yao – the ginger singer with his talking pipa, the Princess of Cruelty Xie Yinglou, the Dirty Cop Xiao Kuang Juan and the amoral monk Di Kong. While Thunderbolt proves once again it more than has its chops when it comes to make these characters as stand out as possible, for this season it falls more into straightforward side.There’s a clear line between the good guys and the bad guys, which makes a lesser impact compare to the ambiguity of good/evil in the original series. Princess Cruelty, for example, has haer redemption arc that, while still good, is the most conventional arc Thunderbolt has done so far.

The main storyline is another straightforward aspect of this season. It has a clear set of goals and well planned-out (too well indeed) goals: Shang Bu Huan wanted to get rid of his Index of Swords, unfortunately the plan fails and the enemy gets a hold of two evil swords. One thing that this season does improve is that we get a chance to see more legendary swords and their dangerous powers. These two new swords, Seven Blashphemous Deaths and the Night of Mourning, have a distinct designs and formidable powers. The former especially has quite a character for her deadly charming voice and her femme fatale personality. My favorite addition, however, is the one-wing Dragon who spits fire and talks human language.  

Speaking of characters, I’m glad to say that all the main players this season fit into this universe like a T. They’re over the top, but not simple. They’re all too proud of themselves and they bounce off with each other extremely well. Normally it’s an one-on-one conversations where these different personas clash, and most of the time it’s a treat to watch. Di Kong and Lang Wu Xao serve to be an excellent cast on its own, the former on how he’s dangerous purely because he has no evil temptation, and the latter because of his strict sense of justice. The Dirty Cop’s character is your love-to-hate type and his corruption is a bit to extreme to leave any ambiguity, and it’s a shame his character is the least relevant to the main plotline.

The visual has gotten much more flashy too. Characters doing their own “remarks” while speaking, the special effect, namely the spitfire and the blood-gushing are still something to behold. Even the way these characters run have a quirk of its own, making Thunderbolt a product that never fail to be anything less than spectacular. I think we’re in good chance for the final season that closes everything here. Witty, refreshing, never take itself seriously and always have the right amount of campiness and flashiness, puppets are here to stay.

Posted on 30 December 2018 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello everyone, to another exceedingly late post on Planetes. New Years and end of season reviews have me stretched a bit thin, but the Throwback Thursday train never stops. Lets dive in!

Once again, Planetes goes for one good episode, one iffy one. The first was great, as the plot finally started to move forward and the end-game arc took shape. The second however felt largely like filler, with very little of value going on, barely expanding on the previous episode, and mostly serving to give Hachimaki time to react. Simply put, I did not enjoy the second episode, because very little of consequence happened. It felt like a setup episode, coming right on the heels of the big reveal in the first episode. That said, the first episode was not without issues either. So without further ado, let’s head into that.

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Posted on 21 December 2018 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello one and all, welcome to another week of Planetes. This time Planetes continues Hachi’s quest for the Van Braun, Tanabe holds out hope and Pilot Boi lets me down. Let’s dive in!

Net, I really enjoyed this week. Planetes is back in form. The romance was placed on the back burner in favor of another worldly theme, making the viewer ask questions. Maybe it’s just that Tanabe has gotten old, having remained a largely static character, at least when compared to Hachimaki, Claire and Hakim. Each of them have had arcs, have made major changes in their lives or had them thrust upon them. Meanwhile Tanabe is still in the exact same position, an EVA Debris Hauler. She is more of a bouncing board for other, more interesting, characters. So with them off on their own, her role is largely useless. Meanwhile Hachimaki is the most interesting he has ever been. With themes of sacrifice, giving your all and being selfish for the sake of your dreams. To be quite honest, I am loving it.

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Posted on 18 December 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Thunderbolt Fantasy

Boy, it sure feels great to see the biggest douchebag gets punched repeatedly to the face by his own dirty tricks. It also feels good when the femme fatale Seven Blashphemous Deaths Sword feels threatened towards Monk’s declaration of love. If there’s one thing that I still enjoy in Thunderbolt, it’s that the cast keeps redefining their roles. Who would’ve imagined that collected Monk can be this love obsessive and embrace the “Till death do us part” vow to heart? In term of general plot, I feel that this season is weaker than the first. While in the first season we have a band of misfits with a shared immediate goal, here we have many branches of characters who have different goals that don’t join together towards the climax. Dirty Cop basically just wants to screw around and gets his hands on more swords now. Our team wants to retrieve the Evil Swords, and the Fallen Monk just wants to dedicate his life to his wife Sword. The issue remains that the cast doesn’t really connect to each other in a big narrative sense. It’s until this late in the game that the Monk has some reason to fight against Shang Bu Huan, just because Femme Fatale Sword wants to buy some more time.

Moreover, while it’s still a joy to watch these larger than life characters behave on screen. This is the first time where I see the implausible characters behavior in Thunderbolt. So Dirty Cop fights our Ginger Singer and decides to turn the table by handing his evil sword to him, thus force him to take care of these manipulated soldiers. I could totally understand if Shang Bu Huan hesitates to harm these guys but with Lang Wu Yao? He’s the kind who will save his ass first rather than saving innocent people who get into his way. I still remember him warning Shang Bu Huan for not killing those puppets in early episodes so I just don’t get the change of heart here. Whichever the case, Shang Bu Huan appears right on time (almost too perfect timing if you ask me), and shoe Dirty Cop how he can handle orchestrating the whole puppet soldiers without any sweat. At the end, Enigmatic Gale Joins the gang on his own amusement. The back-and-forth bouncing off between him, our Hero, and the Singer is still campy and pretty hilarious.

On the other side of the battle, Fallen Monk and his wife find themselves in the Wasteland of Spirits. In another reversion of our expectation, it’s revealed that the Monk has never fallen for the magic charm of the Sword in the first place, but love it in his own will. It could’ve been greater if we witness the moment he met and acquired the Sword though. At the moment we just take it as what he told us. Then my MVP character appears, the indestructible dragon who raises up from the ground and gets killed by the Monk just as quick. Poor little dragon who always picks the wrong fight. Now, with the finale of the final showdown between our hero team and the Monk, with Dirty Cop will somehow chime in as well, I just hope for a bombastic and explosive climax.

Posted on 14 December 2018 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello and welcome to another week of Throwback Thursday, with Planetes! This time Planetes drops it’s greater themes for some character drama, but brings it back with one big hurrah for our team. Lets jump in!

In general, I wasn’t particularly impressed by this week. Every week I am waiting for something definitive to happen. For the series to kick into some final arc. And every week it gives us another character focused piece. Yeah, we moved forward a bit this week, but it just feels slow. The cast at this point is huge, and I just don’t understand why Planetes is still introducing new characters. I feel like it would be better spent focusing on the ones we have. There were glimpses of that, Gigalt has become an important recurring character, and the Ninja’s showed up for a brief moment. We even saw the return of the 3rd Division Chief, who I was sure would be a one off villain. When these instances happen, I love it. I love the callbacks and consistency. But the stream of weekly new characters concerns me.

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Posted on 11 December 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Thunderbolt Fantasy

This week we see something that rarely happens: Gui Niao is in a fault mood. As it turns out, this little war between Enigmatic Gale and Dirty Cop is more about the Vape Wiz’s ego rather than the Glassed Boy. The usually collected-Gui Niao shows off a whole range of emotions this episode: from being a complete troller (his exaggerated reaction when he heard the “news” is priceless) to bewildered and finally frustrated with Dirty Cop’s decision. Everything goes according to Enigmatic Gale, but one thing that he hadn’t taken into account is that Dirty Cop has stooped so slow, he has no such “pride” whatsoever. Things go against his plan, his life is ruined but he shakes it off and moves on. Well, Gui Naio being a boy with huge ego, who enjoys crushing other boys’ huge ego, is taken a big backlash that he doesn’t want anything to do with Dirty Cop. Well, I must say while this turn of event is silly at best, it’s always welcomed to see the weak side of Gui Niao, the guy who live or die by humiliating other people.

It’s also very welcomed to see the ex-spear wielder now-swordsman Juan Can Yun from the first season back, now more responsible and all. Our Shang Bu Huan decides to leave the sword index to his old comrade, so that he can come back and fight against the evil sword, which for me is a very Shang Bu Huan thing to do. What cracks me up, however, is that the blonde one-eyed dude can hold the sword index… for a week. I mean, to walk into the hiding place, it already takes that amount of time. That aside, it provides a deadline for Shang Bu Huan to do his thing and come back to claim the sword index. Gotta say though, it still feels wrong the way Juan Can Yun wields a sword from his wife instead of his trademark spear.

Our Ginger Singer has an encounter with the Monk and his wife Sword, and I count it lucky when he can escape that fight without losing his life. He had a death flag all over when he decided to pursuit the villain alone, but I guess he’s too beloved to be killed off just like this. Apparently, he only appears in the side story, but because Gen Urobuchi loves his character so much he includes the bloke to this sequel. The way he fights based purely on his hearing proves to be a formidable thread for the Monk, but he himself is wise enough to deceive our Singer. At the moment, it feels like the last retreat before an all-out war, with pretty much everyone cools down or power up right now before the climax. This episode isn’t a game changer or anything, but it still maintains the endless fun of seeing these larger than life characters act and bounce off each other.

Posted on 7 December 2018 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello and welcome to perhaps the most intense week of Planetes yet. This time our Temp Worker gets some history and Hachimaki develops space PTSD. Let’s dive in!

Off the bat, I want to apologize again for this being late. Work and doing 4 shows at once has slowed me down a bit. That said, for these episodes, I thought one was fantastic and the other serviceable. It should be rather obvious which is which. When Planetes focuses on its bigger themes, of borders and space, it’s fantastic. But this week the focus on a side character with barely 2 lines an episode, while not bad, simply wasn’t up to snuff. I will get into more detail in just a moment, but the fact is, it was simply too little to late for her character. We are more than half-way in now, we have a strong and fleshed out cast. Why are we introducing the backstory of a character who has done basically nothing until now? It boggles the mind.

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