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
Lenlo
That was an interesting comparison. Cool to see how far anime has come.
Lenlo
I cant wait to watch Kaze Fui tonight to answer those questions Kazier!
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Someone has done a comparison video for Dororo for a scene in the new one, comparing it with the old one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j38anJY3BtA
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe some people found the flashback scenes too dramatic, but I didn't mind, they worked for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo:One thing that has come to mind, how would it go if he encountered the coach again, but in the present?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo:I also liked how the flashback was done in a grainy looking style.
If I found someone who was finding it hard to get into this show, I think that this episode would win them over and it’s the episode I found myself feeling the most.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Episode 13 of Kaze ga tsuyoku is the fitting and perfect culmination of what has come before it and all is now essentially out on the table dramatically and all the better for it because of how well this series has built itself up.
Animosh
In essence it is still a battle shounen though: even if the fights always have narrative weight (it's not just fighting for the sake of fighting), the characters are to a significant extent developed through fights. So if that's not your thing it might be a hard sell even with its amazing animation and sympathetic cast.
Animosh
@Lenlo/Kaiser: the problem with Mob though is that its first two episodes are by far the worst of the series. So if you give it a try you should watch at least until the third episode, and possibly even episode 4/5 (since it's the first really good arc of the series imo).
Animosh
Yeah, it must be tough to blog three shows in the span of two days, especially with how long your posts tend to be. I find it hard enough already just to keep up with everything!
Lenlo
Ugh. Didnt get to Kaze Fui tonight. A shame. This whole Dororo/MobPsycho then Kaze Fui air schedule is gonna be a pain. You can expect Kaze Fui's maybe... Thurs? Not sure yet. Busy night
Kaiser-Eoghan
*newer not old
Kaiser-Eoghan
Some additional things I always notice in certain things, sometimes in these old medieval films or shows, in the American ones the characters occassionally don't look earthy enough.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Koyomi from clannad i mean
Kaiser-Eoghan
Somewhere in my head Koyomi is this weird anime take on an autist.
Amagi
All she did what stupid, but everyone was saying that she was a genius that would probably soon develope the theory of eversthing so it must be real even if she's only ever smart when the plots needs her to do some sudden computer hack or something.
Amagi
Smart characters can only be written by smart writers. So sometimes writers just tell that the characters are smart but you don't actually witness it. It's either shown by using such wise one liners or just because someone else is telling the audience they're smart. Reminds me of that one Kyoani genius girl.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Can't do the walk, don't do the talk.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can buy it more for a tough old dude.
Kaiser-Eoghan
On more thought, alot of it has to do with who is saying them. Men who look like children with no charisma.
Amagi
I absolutely hate these one liners too. Especially when you can already hear them in the trailer.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I hate it when scripts coverup for awful characters by spamming quips at you.
Amagi
It's why I dislike so much stuff that gets released today. All these run-of-the-mills, copies, clones, alternative universes, sequels and so on.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But, beyond cgi, its the modern take wise-ass stuff that drives me nuts.
Amagi
Even if you're just drawing a landscape you need creativity. Where are the shadows, the lighting, what atmosphere should it trigger and so on. Maybe even a hidden motif.
Kaiser-Eoghan
ANARCHY KINO-MACHE!
Amagi
Yeah creativity is, well, should be among the most important things out there. I mean movies, anime, etc are actual art, art is meaningless without creativity. At least the narrating type of art.
Amagi
Kinda miss these anime. They're rare to begin with but I can't imagine anyone creating such a thing nowadays. Like Blame/Ergo/Texhno, even Lain. They never sold though, so I can even kind of understand it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ergo worked for me up until the ending.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think clever is too often a miused word by people when they describe things. They reduce it to being "Just a smart storyline", when really it is more suited a word to something in tune with its creative side.
Amagi
Ergo Proxy even had a dense/heavy plot that was developing while you're busy figuring the setting out. And many things were shown indirectly. It was one of the rare anime I had to watch twice to get it. Texhnolyze is also such a thing but more bizarre in my opinion, less logical than Ergo, but still great.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Its really really nice knowing that I can talk to someone like you about this on my level .
Amagi
It's why I love series with strong settings so much. See Blame for example. Even Made in Abyss. You never know what kind of landscape you will see next and in Blame everything is fucked to behin with.
Amagi
Yeah. Well we do watch movies to feel excitement, and you can't really feel that if you can guess what happens next.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now obviously these types of things can end up a coin toss of it either works or it doesn't, but I appreciate the risk taken.
Amagi
I tolerate it for games because whereas I still don't like it there, at least the game as an additional value which is the gameplay. So even with weak atmosphere I am still enjoying it for being a good game. But when I watch a movie I want get sucked in to some degree instead of being aware that I am just the audience (or the player).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I like that feeling of I don't know whats going to happen next.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I like the idea of a madman getting to do a movie and running with his imagination.
Amagi
It's like dreaming and suddently hearing your real life cat meowing and realising that it's just a dream, you're in the bed and about to wake up. And yes this is exactly why I dislike CGI
Kaiser-Eoghan
But sometimes people cry pretentious wrongly, when there wasn't really any intended thing to get.
Amagi
It's why I am so easily angered over little errors or writing problems. Because they destroy the atmosphere more than anything else.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I mean, I do like themes, characters etc, but my favourite experience is nightmare/dreamscapes.
Amagi
If the atmosphere is missing it doesn't matter what story you are telling, everything feels kinda hollow. Doesn't mean that show with weak atmo and great plot is bad, but it would be ten times better with the proper atmosphere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I hate this modern idea of "It HAS to be coherent or mean something or follow some kind of linear or logical thing or some kind of rules"
Amagi
@Kaiser: Yeah it's why I often say that atmosphere is the most important part of a story, actually.
Kaiser-Eoghan
With cgi I am constantly reminded I am watching a film.
Amagi
Don't know all of the titles you mentioned, will probably look into a few of those I don't know.
Kaiser-Eoghan
What I love about these old slavic art films, is no longer being aware of the world around me when I watch them. They use actual crafted cinematography so they can still feel like you're living it, despite being so unreal.
Amagi
Technobabylon and Gemini Rue are my favorites. These games capture this fucked up feeling of noir-punk and dark cyberpunk perfectly and have a bunch of great twists and character arcs.
Amagi
I like this type of darkness somehow, as well as trash punk and noir stuff. I do enjoy the Wadjet Eyes games for that reason.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Naturally I loved both
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hard to be God and On the silver globe are insane, there's this sense of what the utter hell am I watching? But you feel like you've been transported someone else entirely.
Amagi
"We" (Мы) is also a Russian dystopia novel, it shared a bunch of similarities with 1984 but was written long before Orwell had had even started with 1984.
Amagi
STALKER has also made me check out a bunch of Russian/Ukrainian novels. I love their ideas. Their dystopias and everything.
Amagi
Slavs are doing good games right now. Looking forward playing this Russia Fallout clone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can't remember the name of the Soviet animation with the robot that keeps on working after everyone's dead.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But crappy puns aside. Dead mans letters, letters never sent, Ivan's child hood, Andreii Rublev, Cranes are flying and I am Cuba have amazing cinematography.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wanna b a Potemkin master....
....like no-one ever was =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
Dead mans letters is up there with Threads as being one of the best apocalypse films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*evangelion
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or would that be Nyguen genesis Evagelion =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: You'll always be my ho chi main man minh Mario =)
SuperMario
I love Soviet cinema. Yeah the Mirror has that monochrome part. And they aren’t that big as they used to be but Soviet animation has great history
Kaiser-Eoghan
Stalker is an excellent science fiction film and not neccesarily because of need to anaylze it, but because it works of a visual-psychic level.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Zerkalo/mirror is a great example of this, just a stream of the directors thoughts, all visual impressionism, there might be a scene where I couldn't tell you the why or the what, but it'd make me feel something.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Basically where to understand, is simply to feel.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Its always fascinating that some filmakers have the ability to just let the film wash over you and move you with intricately crafted arthouse visuals. That they can do that, without character arcs/intellectual message/monologues.
Amagi
Speaking of soviet stuff I kinda want another movie or maybe even a cartoon like some of these old soviet movies that were partly monochrome and partly colored during important scenes. Didn't solaris have that too? - I know the monochrome parts were done to save money, but it was kinda impressive seeing colorless movies turning colorful ones during emotional scenes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Definately something that would appeal to me in terms of alternate style of animation. I'm actually quite a fan of different, out there animation styles.
Lenlo
Heres the ED
Lenlo
Yup, paint on glass. The entire ED for the first season was done in that style. Mob loves to use obscure or generally unusual art styles to sell the other worldlyness of its spirits.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That sounds pretty cool.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Excuse me....paint on glass effects in Mob? There was a Soviet animator that used that style.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*earlier
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Again you psychically read my mind =P I was just thinking that about Farnese arlier.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: I think I've accepted there are some manga I need to wait until they're finished before go back to them either due to slow scans or because they've gone on so long or go on hiatus.
Amagi
I think the later half as well as the hiatus killed it for me. Can't deal with that two chapters per year policy.
Lenlo
I, however, am still a rabid Berserk fanboy. :D
Amagi
I am also never a fan of characters completely changing personalities once they're redeemed. Farnese was an interesting villain and while I agree that she needed to overcome her trauma the current Farnese is just some soulless helpful big sister type. She only exists to care for Cjaskar and at some point even Cjaskar's eternal problem was starting to get on my nerves.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Same opinion on Berserk again. The arc before that with the inquisition tower was one of the highpoints of the manga, everything went downhill once Schierke had joined which is kinda sad since it was one of my favorite series before that.
Lenlo
Mob is much more character focused than OPM. OPM riffs on Shounen, while Mob is a much more character driven drama kinda series, with shounen elements. I would give it a shot for an episode or two.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Berserk started losing me when he started travelling around with those kids.
@Amagi/Animosh: Do you believe that Mob has better choreography than onepunch?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi:I will give exceptions to magical elements if a show can produce an adventure narrative worthwhile or if it’s a magical girl show.
If magic is featured in an occult horror fashion or in an exploitative way, I will also lean toward allowing it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: While I very much doubt Mob would be my thing, given how I generally felt indifferent to onepunch man and bias against shounen action, yes the art for Mob, when elevated by an anime adaptation lends itself to something unique looking and I can praise that.
Lenlo
I think ONE's style fits Mob better, and Murata's style fits OPM better. So yeah, Bones chose well on that front
Amagi
Not only are overdesigned characters really bad for movement which is actually needed to make a series and their characters feel alive but they also often look really bad in my opinion and there is a limit on how overdesigned a character can be until I stop taking them seriously at all.
Amagi
Yeah. I also honestly think that many anime are suffering from overdesigning.
Animosh
And I like Mob's artstyle a lot as well. It gives the series a unique look, and it gives the animators all the freedom they could wish for to play around with the characters (and basically everything else) as they see fit. Add Bones to the mix, and you have one of the best-looking series out there.
Animosh
I prefer the full ONE experience too. It's part of the reason why I slightly prefer Mob Psycho. OPM looks great and all, but there's way too much meaningless fighting going on in the manga lately. I prefer the tighter and more consistently subversive storytelling of the webcomic, although I still enjoy the manga a lot as well (and the story climaxes in particular tend to look freaking amazing).
Amagi
Different example since this is actual fantasy but I also prefered the early Berserk series over the later parts. When the supernatural horror stuff was more of a hidden thing appearing around Guts and otherwise just on special occasions, while most people didn't even believe such things exist. I prefer that over the high (dark) fantasy we have now although I get what Miura is aiming at.
Amagi
I guess I just have a thing for this secret-club mentality. I prefer it over worlds with blatan magical powers everyone uses and knows about.
Amagi
It's weird but I almost always hate anime with and about magic, the more fantasy it is the less I like it (usually, not always), but then again occult stuff is always totally my thing.
Amagi
I am quite happy they stick with the original Mob Psycho designs from ONE for this series. The OPM manga is probably one of the best looking things out there but ONE's artstyle has a lot of charme and makes characters more unique, especially if looks as polished as in the anime adaption.
Lenlo
Mmm cant wait to watch it. Kaze Fui, still great
Anonymous3309336
I really like how Kurahana admitted that he let his emotions get to him when he threw that punch at the coach back then. Now he feels remorseful about that day and how he made enemies from his former teammates.
Anonymous3309336
Meanwhile, looks like the next episode will focus on Prince again and his attempts to further improve his time.
Anonymous3309336
Meanwhile, his new teammates understand the pain he's been going through and want him to move on from that. Definitely as some of the best writing of this season.
Anonymous3309336
That punch he threw at the coach was certainly well-deserved, but I can see why the other teammates including Sakaki would come to despise him.
Anonymous3309336
This episode of Kaze ga... was great as always, as we see more of Kurahana's past and how his awful coach made Sakaki and the rest of his former team turn on him.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wouldn't have minded reading several volumes of seeing Satou on the run.
Animosh
Thanks! That's good to know. An alternate ending could have been fun, but I suppose the ending of the anime was fitting, and if it ain't broke don't fix it.
Amagi
Looks like it's going to end. I guess it ends the same but we can't say for sure yet.
Animosh
For those of you still reading Happy Sugar Life: is the manga continuing past the anime? Or does it look like it's going to end in the same way? If it takes a different path it might be worth checking it out.
Anonymous3307077
children of the whales
Lenlo
Holy crap. Mob Psycho 100 is the best thing since sliced bread. BONES thank you.

And thanks Kaiser!
Amagi
well we have a döner kebab ship at least.
Amagi
I am from Frankfurt, another one of the biggest German cities but there isn't much to see here aside from skyscrapers and banks.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*had **taught
Kaiser-Eoghan
I hah had some notion that the Japanese didn't really know English or it wasn't well thought over there?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lenlo's taste continues to be impeccably based.
Kaiser-Eoghan
lol I thought coolass47 was covering Kaguya.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Germany, both Koln and Berlin, especially Koln felt like a home to me and felt the less alienating/foreign.
Kaiser-Eoghan
.....probably embarassing but, I think I'd be put off sleeping on the floor in a futon or using one of those weird Japanese toilets.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Truly I am the Kaiser Eoghan.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Beyond that I've been to Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've never been outside of Europe. I didn't have problems getting around Germany though when I went because my then girlfriend was from there and I knew enough to cope on a Holiday.
Amagi
also no matter which country I visited till now people were always friendly
Amagi
Yeah, now thinking about it, I could even find everything in Iran so I guess Japan should work too. Most people knew enough random English or German words to somehow lead you to the place and you want to visit unless it's some really weird relief or a small town that's difficult to reach but tourists usually stick with the big stuff.
SuperMario
... years ago and Japan is pretty safe and the signs are easy to follow in general. Even the locals who don’t speak English they are pretty friendly and help you the best they can. You don’t need to be worry on that front
SuperMario
I did it alone few
Amagi
Not sure how he did it (he went completely alone too) but it seems to be possible somehow. Not sure if I would make it though.
Amagi
Someone I know managed it alone and he isn't even that good in English.
Lenlo
I think I can manage. Lots of English signage in places like the rail systems and such. That plus the small amount I am learning in preparation and how much english they teach them over there, I should be ok
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Do you feel you'd be able to get by in Japan? As far as I know you don't speak any Japanese.
Animosh
Mob was great again too. The adaptation is really knocking it out of the park. And looks like we'll be getting one of my favorite side stories next week.
Animosh
I love how upbeat Slime continues to be. If only all wars were resolved like this. And then he goes on to improve everyone's lives by building homes, infrastructure, and coalitions based on common interests? Rimuru for president!
Anonymous3303364
I retired from the force in middle school enjoying my retirement, I still see the faces of the comrades we lost when we defeated the big bad and saved the world, I haven't seen my cute marketable mascot in 3 years, but I like this new life I'm living, I thought I found peace but the battlefield always calls out to me, why? Because war never changes.
Anonymous3303364
I love this comment since it's more well put on what this dark magical girls show really is:
Vonter
Perhaps in ten years when the next trope comes. I wonder if some will look back to the tropes from now with different eyes. Like they say, you don't know what you have until you lose it.
Vonter
Yeah, maybe I could watch some of that schlock. In a way some of it has become more endearing over time. Since times have changed.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Vampire wars was fantastic though, used shitfuck as a word from what I remember.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yes! Finally they're saying it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Watching a compiliation of dub cursings for angel cop, not enough F-bombs yet.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I always wish some of these old ovas got to go on for longer, especially AD police and bubblegum crisis. I'd have loved a full gunsmith cats or riding bean show.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have to watch Angel cop some day I really do.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I think vonter, if magical girl ops can't achieve the exploi angle then it has failed all the further. We'll have to see.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: I was disappointed when I saw the more modern anime! Because it didn't have the art I liked in the ovas.
Vonter
I do remember now. Did you watched the Birdy The Mighty OVA (not the series, the OVA). That one I remember liking because it was cheesy, visceral, had IMO better designs for the aliens than the ones in the TV series and I digged the dynamic of the two leads. However it was cut short. Perhaps it was too derivative for the time.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sometimes I can actually take ridiculousness much better when its a live action exploitation thing if it happens to fail in animated form. That Jeanne d'arc anime and maybe magical girl spec ops would have made hilarious 60s/70s Eurotrash films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
One of the only modern anime to do the exploitation angle right was Freezing.
Vonter
I want to believe there's something like that already out. But I'm blocked. I can only mention that I now want to rewatch some of Devilman Lady. It does have a female lead battling monsters with an 80s sci fi horror vibe, I don't know it reminds me for some reason to movies like Godzilla 1985 or King Kong Lives.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: Or go mental.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: Thats one I still need to get around to. If I have to have a darker magical thing, it either has to be camp and goofy enough while taking itself dead seriously or keep some of the fun .
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - If you haven't check a couple of episodes of Lady Devilman. Despite being formulaic, the monsters on that anime are really well made and feel creative, morbid and creepy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: lol Damn, now I want to see Go Nagai's take of Magical girl ops.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I love how some old ovas would sometimes take place in America, but in this IDEA of it, getting it wrong.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: I love how they added in those stupid curse words every few minutes aswell, wonderfully incompotent.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: Mad bull 34 was lovingly perverse , like a Japanese equivalent to those wonderful Italian police things.
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The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]

Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 – 2 [Urban Legends ~Encountering Rumors~]

Hello and welcome to the first outright perfect episode of anime of 2019! Mob Psycho 100 knocked it out of the park this week in every respect, so let’s just jump right in! Right off the bat, Bones is out in full force animation wise. Everything about this episode, visually, was fantastic. Even in drab, […]

Zombieland Saga Anime Review – 60/100

Zombieland Saga was a show that came out of the gate guns blazing, no one expected it nor did anyone predict it but it left a strong impression when it first aired it’s starting episodes. Originally considered to be another zombie apocalypse anime, it overthrew expectations by turning out to be a zombie idol anime. […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) – 02/03 (Boogiepop Does Not Laugh 2/3)

Welcome to Boogiepop, one of the hallmark franchise in the history of this medium. The Light Novels itself dated back in 1995 and is still considered as one of the earliest Light Novels ever released and is often credited as starter of the Light novem trend in Japan. The anime adaptation in 2000 remains one […]

Zombieland Saga – 10-12[NO ZOMBIE NO IDOL SAGA/A One-of-a-Kind SAGA/Good Morning Again SAGA]

And so Zombieland ends…or more that it just decided to drop off for a bit. The last few episodes decided to focus on Sakura with the first being her overzealous preparation for a big concert and Kotaro’s efforts to just get her to chill out and relax, the second being the return of her memories […]

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru – 12 [Summer Prank]

Ah, the break is over, the New Year is here and Kaze Fui has returned once more! This week a few more of our boys get qualifying times, Kurahara loves his team and everyone goes camping! Lets dive in! Starting off, I have to make it known how happy I am for our boys in […]

Mob Psycho 100 II – 1 [Ripped Apart ~Someone Is Watching~]

Winter 2019 hype! The new season has begun, First Impressions are going up, and me? I’m writing about the second season of Mob Psycho 100, one of my favorite series of 2016. So everyone, lets dive in! Mob Mob Mob! Right off the bat let me say I loved this premier. It hit a little […]

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai – 09-13[Sister Panic/Complex Congratulations/The Kaede Quest/Life is a Never-Ending Dream/The Dawn After an Endless Night]

It’s hard to believe that I so easily forgot that this series was written by the same person who wrote the The Pet Girl of Sakurasou but these last few episodes really gave me a solemn reminder of that. The Sakurasou series had a pendant for serious melodramatic antics and while I did appreciate the […]

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Planetes Anime Review – 89/100 – 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. […]

Goblin Slayer Anime Review – 60/100

The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]

Zombieland Saga Anime Review – 60/100

Zombieland Saga was a show that came out of the gate guns blazing, no one expected it nor did anyone predict it but it left a strong impression when it first aired it’s starting episodes. Originally considered to be another zombie apocalypse anime, it overthrew expectations by turning out to be a zombie idol anime. […]

SSSS.GRIDMAN (Fall 2018) Anime Review – 87/100

Let it be known that I’ve never been a fan of Trigger. For me, they’re one of the most style-with-no-substance studio on Earth with a tendency for god-awful fanservice, and total nonsense in terms of story and characters. Yet GRIDMAN completely caught me off guard in the first two episodes, and from there, there was […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 (Fall 2018) Anime Review – 86/100

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 […]

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (2018 Fall) Anime Review – 73/100

In the last few years, it’s great to see P.A Works has slowly created their own studio identity, putting more original works with consistent production values. Just in 2018, they produced 4 shows (quite a good number if you ask me), 3 of them were original: Maquia, Sirius the Jaeger and Irozuku. As I said, […]

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai Anime Review – 82/100

In the wake of many a school based light novel show this may be the small bits of fresh air was can savor out of this overdone setting. Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl(Or by its japanese title above) is a series not about rascals or bunny girls but instead about contextualising common high […]

Banana Fish Anime Review – 72/100

Some days, I wonder what it is with America and anime about organized crime. Baccano!, 91 Days, Blood Blockade Battlefront, all set in America, all involving criminal underworlds. Today, I get to add another to that list in the form of Banana Fish. Much more grounded than the others, it’s story dates all the way […]

Castlevania Season 2 Review – 73/100

According to much of the Western Anime community, this series wouldn’t be relevant for a site like this. Being made in the West by Americans, and English being its first language, many would disqualify it from the start. However I name them all fools for Castlevania, Directed by Sam Deats and Ryoichi Uchikoshi is clearly […]