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.

Posted on 31 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Here are a few reasons why Hyodo Kiyoharu was the MVP of this week’s episode: he noticed Tatara’s fatigue and flat-footedness before the kid’s own coach. He kept his cool while everyone else was busy flinging petty insults or embroiling themselves in love pentagons, and provided his rival with both straight talk and sound advice. He watched his mom flirt unashamedly with a guy nearly twice her age, and somehow managed to retain his dignity. He managed to motivate someone as talented as Shizuku to dance her best with his mere presence. And he looked fly as hell with his sweater robe and crutch, even amidst a sea of tailcoats and bowties. If I were a judge at the Tenpei Cup, I’d call off the competition and just award Hyodo the trophy.

Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to evaluate ballroom dancing (or men’s fashion) – only to talk about Japanese cartoons. So despite Hyodo’s greatness, there’s one scene I really want to focus on this week, and that’s the moment when Sengoku instructs Tatara not to do the special Quickstep variation they’d been practicing for weeks. Even without seeing his pupil gasp for breath in the corner of the room just moments beforehand, Sengoku knows that Hyodo is right about his exhaustion. Tatara is already on the floor by the time he can speak with him, though, so Sengoku is forced to shout across the hall not to use their trump card (which would likely result in his collapse). What follows is dead silence, and eventually a shot of Tatara, who looks exhausted and embarrassed, but more than that, he looks crushed. He’s upset that his coach doesn’t believe in him, even though he’s shaking and sweating and barely maintaining his hold on his partner. This is a boy with prior self-image issues being told to alter his routine to account for his lack of experience and stamina; it’s no wonder he sobs and collapses in Sengoku’s arms after his neutered performance.

I’m glad that Ballroom continues to expose this side of Tatara, even if the results are sometimes hard to watch, because it makes him more human even as the shounen clichés pile around him. The Destined Rivals bit that he and Hyodo have going on is farfetched, though the show played it well this week by making Kiyoharu the voice of reason during an emotional scene. “Reality” is the title of this episode, and Tatara’s reality, as explained by his rival, is that he can’t possibly beat Gaju given his current lack of talent and conditioning. The solution is to allow Mako to outperform Shizuku, and that’s a plan I couldn’t be happier with, especially after two months of hearing that the man leads and the woman follows, the pair’s score is largely determined by the leader, etc. I don’t doubt the truth of those statements, since ballroom dancing is quite traditional, but when Mako asks Tatara to “make me bloom” at the episode’s end, it feels great to know that she’s allowing herself to command some attention for a change. That final line also carries with it a hint of romance, given the sensual connotation that blooming holds. Sengoku teased the two kids about a potential relationship midway through the proceedings this week, so I expect that their partnership may become a bit more complicated in the future.

Love is in the air for several other characters, as well, but Shizuku’s crush is the most interesting. She looked stunned after seeing Hyodo at the Tenpei Cup, perhaps for the first time since his hospitalization, which is a total reversal from her invulnerable attitude just hours earlier. Tatara tries to explain away Hyodo’s strategy as a plan to separate her from Gaju, but she still feels him slipping away, as she did back in episode two. Her resolve now is to impress her former partner, which is an okay development in my book. This is an unsanctioned event with nothing on the line for a seasoned pro like Shizuku, so what’s the harm in a little showmanship for the sake of the boy she likes? Besides, her desire to impress Kiyoharu is tied to her need to reach his skill level, and prove to upstarts like Tatara that you can’t waltz into this scene and start winning trophies left and right – pun very much intended.

Posted on 22 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

I spent the majority of the previous review breaking down a single scene, so let’s play catch-up for a bit. This episode features the Tenpei Cup, an annual event held by some rich dance enthusiast. Despite not being an official competition, the stakes are high: if the fledgling pair of Tatara and Mako can outplace Gaju and Shizuku (who are favored to win), Gaju will be forced to take back his sister as his partner. Thankfully, Sengoku has given his full support to his new student, having supplied him with a new tailcoat and a strategy to impress the head judge during the Quickstep round. It’s a relief that Sengoku has quit trying to embarrass and discourage the impressionable Tatara, who needs all the support he can get, given his lack of self-confidence.

Regarding that timid streak, this episode didn’t bring it across as well as the last one. During his previous phone call with Mako, we got a clear picture of how unworthy Tatara felt, both as a dancer and as a young man. This time, he was a simple scaredy-cat, begging his coach not to put him back on the floor after nearly every round, then finding his groove again once the dancing started. I get that the major story of Ballroom is Tatara’s journey to find himself, but we don’t need a miniature version of that arc every six minutes. The show even commented on this practice through Sengoku, who quickly became fed up with what he described as a “rollercoaster mentality.” It’s good that the writers aren’t totally clueless, I guess, but the show’s awareness of the problem doesn’t make it any less boring to watch.

Thankfully, the episode really picked up during its second half, especially after a dance floor collision between Tatara and Gaju. We never got a definitive answer on whether Tatara purposely engineered the crash, but after he watched Gaju and Shizuku steal the show during the second round, I’m choosing to believe that he made a conscious decision to level the playing field by drawing attention to himself. The waiting room confrontation that ensued was highly dramatic, with all the yelling, punching, and crying that you expect from shounen anime. I liked almost everything about it, though. Gaju is a very believable villain, whose insensitivity and tendency to belittle others read like those of a real high schooler. When Mako hits him and runs off crying, it’s at the perfect point in the conversation. My favorite part of the scene, though, came immediately afterward.

When Shizuku sees her teary-eyed competitor flee the scene and asks what all the fuss is about, it comes out that Tatara thinks there’s a chance that Mako will surpass her. At this point, I fully expected the older girl to berate Gaju for mistreating his totemo kawaii imouto~ and run off to make sure Mako was okay, at which point we’d get a scene where the girls talk about how boys are stupid. Instead, Shizuku walks right up to Tatara, gives him an icy stare, says, “Don’t underestimate me,” snaps his bowtie, and walks away. I think I’m in love. After receiving precisely zero speaking lines in last week’s script, Shizuku was due for her moment in the spotlight, and she certainly got it here. Part of me hopes that she still checked on Mako after she was through being a badass, but the version of the argument that we got was the best possible way the scene could have played out.

The story wraps with the introduction of Marisa Hyodo, mother of Tatara’s destined rival. Before she was revealed as a guest judge for the semifinals of the Tenpei Cup, we got a car scene between Marisa and Kiyoharu, who don’t seem to be the closest of parent-child duos. As we might expect from a superstar of the dance world, she works constantly and doesn’t see much of her son, but what’s worse is that she rationalizes her absence by declaring him the type who “likes being alone.” Ballroom is full of parents and authority figures who are less supportive than they ought to be, although I suppose it wouldn’t be anime if it weren’t. When the Hyodos appear at the very end of the episode, Sengoku looks like a kid who’s been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar – does he have an agreement with Marisa not to train anyone except her son, or is there some history between them that we don’t know about? Guess we’ll find out next week.

Posted on 14 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my desire for the show to continually check in with Shizuku’s character – not just to put her on screen, but to show us how she’s thinking and feeling, now that her previous partner is sidelined and her new one clearly wants to be partners in more than one sense. In the fourteen days since the last episode, I developed the expectation that I wouldn’t be wild about this new installment unless Shizuku was a major part of it. And while she did make an appearance, both in the present day and in a flashback, she didn’t have a single line of dialogue, plus she was subjected to some heavy objectification on Gaju’s end. Why, then, was I so happy with Ballroom this week? I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this review, you’ve already seen the episode, so we’re skipping any sort of plot summary and moving straight to my favorite scene, which came near the end of our 22 minutes.

When Tatara comes home from a grueling practice session with Mako, he’s greeted by two things: popped blisters on his feet, and the sound of his father’s drunken phone conversation. The lights are off, and as he passes by his dad, Tatara hears him say, “He’s such a hopeless kid.” Let’s stop right there for a second and consider how dark this scene is. The blisters are, to Tatara, a symbol of his inadequacy, since he thinks to himself that experienced dancers would never have such a problem. So, he’s entering his home with the thought in his head that he’s not good enough, and on the way to his room he hears the only parent in his life confirm his self-diagnosis – talk about mental damage. Until this episode, Tatara’s home life had been portrayed as a happy one, featuring bright mealtime scenes and his dad functioning as a concerned, but understanding, parent. Here we see the exact opposite, and to make things even worse (or so it seems), the person on the other end of the call is Mako.

It turns out she’s been dealing with blisters, too, and her first instinct is to apologize for her lousy dancing. Like Tatara, she lacks confidence, and they take turns apologizing and deflecting until he decides to share that his parents are divorced. The show uses this fact to explain his commitment to restoring the Hyodo/Shizuku and Gaju/Mako dance partnerships, but Mako sees that resolve as a part of his character, and starts to gush about how thoughtful he is. This was the make-or-break moment for the scene, because anime often falls into the trap of praising their heroes for being sooo thoughtful and sooo nice, as opposed to creating stories that allow them to demonstrate those qualities in an authentic way. But Ballroom leapt over this pitfall by contrasting Mako’s opinion of her new partner with his own self-perception. As she assures him that everyone at Ogasawara is watching and admiring his progress, Tatara wonders to himself whether he’s worthy of their gaze. He feels thankful that anyone notices him at all, and considers it a miracle that any girl would want to dance with him.

This is real shit. These are the naked thoughts of a kid from a divorced family, who doesn’t like school, considers himself to be untalented, and comes home to a father who self-medicates with alcohol. As Mako expresses her wish that he’ll keep dancing, we get a shot of Tatara’s feet – they’re the only place he can bear to look, given how foreign and inappropriate her praise must seem. But although his voice is small when he manages to find it again, he says thank you. He’s accepted guidance from coaches and challenges from rivals in the past, but now he accepts the kindness of someone who really respects him, and maybe likes him a little bit. Both kids are blushing by the end of the conversation, and it’s worth noting that Mako must have asked somebody at the dance studio for his phone number in order to make the call, so rumors about the pair may already be buzzing. I’m not totally on board the Tatara/Mako ship just yet, but I couldn’t be happier about the way they serve as anchors for each other in the harsh world of competitive dance.

There was more to the new episode than just this scene, but I’ve written enough as it is. Next week’s Ballroom will feature the Tenpei Cup, with our main couples going head-to-head, so I’ll try to integrate some of the stuff I didn’t cover this time into that post. Feels good to be back on the Ballroom bandwagon (at least for now).

Posted on 3 August 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

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

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

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

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

Posted on 30 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 17 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

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

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

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

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

Posted on 8 July 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 29 June 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Chihayafuru



Let’s put this into a bit of perspective: generally to warrant a second season a series needs to sell well in one way or the other. Chihayafuru’s DVD sales were abysmal: it sold like, 500 copies in its first week or so. Despite being a really excellent and well-made series, people just didn’t want to bite, and I had given up on any hope for a continuation. Imagine my surprise when the manga suddenly gets really popular and a second season has been highlighted!

And guess what? The production-values still are completely top-notch. There only are a few episodes with some bad and jerky animations. Otherwise: everything is perfectly crisp, the animation manages to make every single karuta match stand out and sparkle. There still is a ton of eye candy here. Any idea how hard it is to keep up this consistency for like fifty episodes?!

I mean, Chihayafuru’s sequel is just amazing. It continues the trend that the first season set, and just continues on with it, doing so many things right. Every single episode, it doesn’t just push one character forward; it tries to do this with as many characters as possible. No episode is wasted like this, and every episode brings something new to the table. It really is amazing how the creators continue to be able to do this. They introduce quite a few new characters that have a great impact on the storylines, and nearly all of them have some sort of gimmick, yet they feel real, and very relatable. The acting was fantastic in the first season, and that didn’t let up in the second, and the second now has so much build-up and development behind it!

It’s really clear that the creators here have a very good understanding of the game of Karuta: they really manage to flesh out the game even more in this season, and show many different sides of it. A downside is that if you just look at the matches objectively, then this series is a bit predictable in the big picture, but in the small picture, it’s everything but: the creators try their hardest to make the individual karuta-matches as exciting as possible.

This season does have a bit of a downside that it’s the middle arc, so there is no beginning, nor an ending, and because of that the juiciest developments are reserved for the other parts (if they’ll ever get there), and as a result this series does have less subject material, so it can move a bit slow at times. But still this show had some of the best characters of the year.
One-Sentence Review: If this series can’t get you fired up on Karuta, then nothing will; fantastic characterization.
Suggestions:
Hikaru no Go
Nodame Cantabile
Shion no Ou

CHANGE USERNAME
Animosh
@Kaiser & Amagi: I also had lots of political discussions with my father. Didn't know that was such a common occurrence. Boys will be boys I guess? And he's actually a former Marxist too, having grown up in the 60's-70's and all. Now he's just a boring socialist though. ;)
Animosh
RErideD seemed really promising in theory: an original time travel anime written (at least in part) by Abe, with the director of Steins;Gate in charge? Count me in. But unfortunately the reviews so far seem to be uniformly negative. So I'll probably avoid it for now.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Four episodes of RErideD: Tokigoe no Derrida got uploaded at the same time earlier.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Yes, although probably just for the Saturday, usually the best day to do so because thats when the sellers are there, usually everythings gone by Sunday. Friday is generally anime pub quiz.
Lenlo
Its just a saturday, so busy. And Kaiser, nice. Gonna go to the con at all?
Lenlo
As a writer for it, I dont believe so?
Anonymous2818178
is this site dead?
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is an animecon here in two weeks. That eyepatchwolf youtuber will be there.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I still have old single issues of fushigi yugi, inuyasha, Ah my Goddess, narutaru laid around.
Kaiser-Eoghan
They used to realease them like single American comic book issues in the west.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not talking bound volumes but actual 20-30 pages chapters and these would be expensive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Who remembers RENTING anime dvds and RENTING videogames? Does anyone else remember buying each individual manga chapter as they came out when the official English translations rolled around?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Anyone willing to post their desktop? https://ibb.co/buc4Zz
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or things like Mischief makers .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I know vonter mentioned Mystical ninja 64. But I remember after I'd moved on from the snes to the N64 when I was younger, growing up with that obscure castlevania game on it, or stuff like those 3D bomberman games no-one cared about. Or obscure stuff like body harvest, jet force gemini, blast corps , turok, quest 64 and shadowman.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love coming across those online lists of literally WHOtier, WHOcares , games literally only YOU liked and heard of/played. Makes me feel less alone.
Amagi
I was also always discussing about politics with my father. Whenever we started with this my mother just said "porca putana" and went into another room to watch tv in peace.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animemosh: lol I have daily political discussion with my Marxist-Leninist father just like that =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh I should state, even though I'm not as bothered by the modern setting, I actually do prefer the cold war narrative.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: The documentries name was Battle of Chile by Patricio Guzman.
Amagi
Especially since I don't think that the typical BF audience is of a kind that would lose interest because a series is taking place in the past. It was just written for the 80s, people can't just change that without changing the story itself to some degree.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: I thought the anime did such a good job with Shio's backstory , that I didn't miss what was omitted. The anime is now up to date with the scans. I do agree that Satou's obsession with Shio is non-pedophilic but I think the scene itself is kind of going to give the wrong message.
Amagi
@Animosh: one of the many reasons why I would have prefered Banana Fish's original setting.
Animosh
By the way, apparently the backstory of Shio's mother - which supposedly is really tragic - was largely skipped. Guess I'll have to read the manga.
Animosh
I get what they're going for, recreating the ritual and all, but I also thought the Shio-Satou moment was a bit forced. I still think their relationship is platonic though. Satou has never been shown to lust after Shio: she just fills her with warmth and happiness. They're more like messed up siblings than (romantic) lovers.
Animosh
@Kaiser: sounds interesting! Chile is an excellent example of the kind of Cold War intervention that I really don't see happening today. Although you never know with an impulsive narcissist in the White House.
Animosh
End of monologue. Sorry about this. :p
Animosh
Long story short: I think the Banana Fish conspiracies fail to adequately represent the current situation. At the very least, it fits the Cold War world order much better.
Animosh
That includes the US (backing the Kurds and the rebels), but also Turkey and the Arab states (Sunni rebels), Russia and Iran (Assad), and so on and so forth. You can't act like this is the fault of one party. Hell, I'd say Russia and Assad are more responsible for failing to a peaceful resolution when they had the chance.
Animosh
As for Syria, it's a mess, but the US is only one of many parties responsible. And oil isn't particularly important in this conflict. It's a civil war that's been made much worse by the influx of money and weapons from many different parties vying for regional influence.
Animosh
So what does it do? It gives military and financial backing to militias with shared interests (which is much less than Russia does, by the way), orders drone strikes, and perhaps the occasional tactical strike. But overthrowing countries and setting up puppet regimes? I don't see it happening. That's basically declaring war on the other big powers.
Animosh
And even when it does intervene militarily, it rarely goes all out. The US has learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. It doesn't want to be dragged into another endless conflict, or see its efforts end in another brutal civil war that destabilizes the region.
Animosh
So although the US occasionally still intervenes militarily in other countries' affairs, other means of pressure are now more popular. The sanctions against Iran and North Korea are a good example of this.
Animosh
The current landscape is much more complex. America is still powerful, of course, but relatively speaking it is in decline, and that means it can get away with much less. Today's world is closer to a multipolar world, with many sides fighting for influence. And because the ideological conflict is much less pronounced, the US is much less willing to go against its purported values.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: Coincidentally I recently watched a series of Chilean documentaries regarding the murder of Salvador Allende and the installation of the Pinochet Junta.
Animosh
And that meant both that America was far more powerful than it is now, and that much more intervention was considered acceptable - including shamelessly backing dictators that oppressed and exploited their people. After all, a defeat meant evil would prevail.
Animosh
Obviously the US still interferes in other countries. Quite a lot, actually. But there's a big difference between its current policy and that during the Cold War. Back then the geopolitical landscape was very different. It was bipolar, with two big Isms (capitalism and communism) fighting it out.
Animosh
@anon: not sure if this is the right place for a political discussion, but whatever. I like politics, so here we go.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*was no exception
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: If, out of the many moments in happy sugar life that I'd consider unsettling, it would be the one's with the aunt and this weeks episode was an exception. That last part of the episode will be interpreted as shoujo-ai bait by people though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Looking forward to Angels of death next week, I think we're getting answers, glad to get answers on bad guy even if he is a simple villain.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now this is an interesting coincidence as last night I just got done watching a documentary about cyberwarfare against Iran.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Thats alot more detailed than what I was going to say. I was just going to say that it reflects current foreign policy.
Anonymous2808488
however the current stalemate in Syria is a reflection of the intransigence of the monied elite to not let go of ill-gotten gains, constantly provoking conflict with Russia/Assad/Iran
Anonymous2808488
Its a documented fact the US/EU promoted the Arab Spring/ISIS rebellions and it was stopped by patriots with a conscience
Anonymous2808488
replace with the mexican cartels/Hezbollah, and oil money promised to Cheney-connected Genie enerrgy
Anonymous2808488
its a pretty accurate description of the current reality minus a couple silly things like the mafia and mind control drugs
Anonymous2808488
You guys realize this plot is unfolding in Syria just replace drugs with oil money
Lenlo
Its hokey in the now, but in the original context the series was written, the Cold War, I think it could fit really well.
Animosh
@Kaiser: what felt awkward to you? I thought the pumpkin stuff in particular was pretty hilarious. Eiji is an evil guy. :p
Animosh
Yeah, the conspiracy stuff feels a bit wacky in the present. But in the context of the Cold War, it makes perfect sense. The USA supported plenty of bloody coups after all, especially in Latin America. Hell, they even backed the Taliban in their war against Russia.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In the future I want to make a bigger effort to follow MORE of whats being covered on here seasonally.
Kaiser-Eoghan
http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Red
https://manganelo.com/manga/red_naoki_yamamoto Two history manga, wonder if they'll be fully translated.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I imagine most will probably agree with you anon though. I have alien taste/opinions. I also love conspiracy stuff =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Originally, in the manga version of that part, it was attacking communism in south America.
Anonymous2805624
I don't know; I kinda find the whole Middle East stuff a bit hokey; maybe that's just me.
Lenlo
Im about to watch it. Looking forward to it
Kaiser-Eoghan
I know its only one line, but that they still mention skip and shorter, even its just their names, at least the show keeps them in mind.
Kaiser-Eoghan
With episode 12, Banana fish has successfully contemporized its political/cospiracy aspect for me . Eiji is semi-uselful. Humour in this episode for the first time feels awkward, fast pace kind of means that the quieter slower scenes , though I still enjoy them, feel slotted in.
Lenlo
Most of my emotions this week came because of the original and my love of it, not this one
Lenlo
I agree, Steins;Gate 0 had all the potential, and there are some specific episodes that realized it. Like this episode had a lot of touching scenes cause it slowed down to play up Okabe's relationship with Amadeus. But most of the time, it fails to reach that potential. So as a whole it just feels... lacking
Kaiser-Eoghan
Plebs, not combining both into a single dessert.
Anonymous2802297
I'm talking about that sweet saccharine Chocolate Mousse, the Ganache, or the Chocolate Gâteau. Your puny muffin stands no chance. Mwahaha!
Anonymous2802297
Blasphemy. As a proud American, I can't stand for anything less than pure unadulterated diabetes-inducing sugar in chocolatey cake form. Anything less is an insult to my great nation. /s
SuperMario
@anon2801739: that's a nice analogy but I can't say I agree as I prefer chocolate muffin much more than chocolate cake :)))
Anonymous2801739
Steins;gate 0 is all potential but generally it's wasted. Whenever it actually seems promising they manage to jump plot points to boring nonsensical melodrama for a century. It was supposed to be a chocolate cake. Instead what we got was a muffin with tiny chocolate chips buried few and far between. Yeah it's still sweet at some points, but most of the time you're chewing through pointless fluff.
Lenlo
Like I said in my last post on it I think, the pacing is fucked
Animosh
I did like that the lab members finally acted like scientists again, methodically thinking through their options and all, and there were some pretty touching individual moments and nicely tied up ends. But mostly I'm just annoyed by all the unfulfilled potential of this show.
Animosh
I also hated the backtracking in the beginning. Don't make such a big deal of The Return if you're going to throw it out of the window in the next episode.
Animosh
I really don't understand Steins;Gate's pacing. It slows down to a trickle in the largely irrelevant middle part, and now that things are finally getting somewhat interesting again it just speeds through everything without building things up properly? I don't get it. And how on Earth are they going to resolve everything satisfactorily in one episode?
KTravlos
Reinhard (old series). Ash is interesting and depicted well, but not close to Reinhard. There is something noble in Reinhard, something beyond charisma.
Anonymous2797046
In a charisma battle between our two favorite Blond Boys (doing what blond boys do), who'd win: Reinhard or Ash?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Kind of felt this is what prelude penultimate episode/calm before the storm episode should be and I liked quite liked the ginko and souya scene, but I'm still eh, I shrug at this.
Vonter
After watching some more Star vs. the forces of evil. I'm getting Jitsu wa Watashi wa vibes. The Sailor Moon-like character episode was cute.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The bullying arc in sangatsu made me want to shootup the school.
Lenlo
I will admit, the family life stuff is less engaging than the crippling depression, but I dont think that would hit as hard with out the relaxing bits in between. Dont want to overload the audience.
Anonymous2791561
3-gatsu no Lion has its ups and downs; its ups are the intense emotional drama or shogi matches, while it's downs are the more relaxed slice of life food porn stuff. When I say up and down, I don't necessarily mean good and bad, just more about the intensity. I personally found that I could enjoy both styles, but sometimes I'd find the slice of life stuff dragging on.
SuperMario
Well, I regard 3-gatsu as one of the best character-writing in this medium in recent years. As for shaft, I'm their fan but even me was worried when I learnt Shaft adapting this. They did a nice job thankfully
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though I was glad that the comedy becomes more reigned in later on.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I got used to the tonally discordant humour eventually, accepting that the show essentially exists in two plains.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In tsukiyomi moon phase Shinbo made some of the shots look like photos, which was cool given the protaganists profession. Their weird style also was a good fit for an oddball show like Zetsubou-sensei.
Lenlo
I just finished the 4th episode, and so far I am torn on Akari. Im still not sure what to make of some of these relationships. I love the permeated depression theme in every episode though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wonder if it will get a third season.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I want Akari to be my mom.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hmmm only 9 out of 13 volumes adapted, which means the anime hasn't adapted the best bit.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Unfortunate that the sangatsu manga doesn't update often.
Kaiser-Eoghan
While I haven't seen it, I heard that vocaloid thing shaft adapted was very poorly suited to their style.
Lenlo
If a drama can actually make me feel something, actual emotions, then its a success. But it takes a pretty good, well made drama to do that.
Lenlo
I am very particular about my Drama'
Lenlo
Im planning on burning through the whole thing in the next few days. Maybe then ill try the manga, since there is probably more
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I didn't think your lie in April or sangatsu would actually be your thing. They're very drama-ey.
Lenlo
Basically im with Kaiser on this one. As for Shaft, I am very show by show with them. I couldnt stand Nisekoi, yet Sangatsu's color palette and way of drawing faces really has me
Lenlo
See, so far it has a very Mushishi/Fune wo Amu/Your Lie in April feel to me. I love these kinds of things animated, because I feel the music and color-choices really help set things in the mood.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario@Lenlo: We can be Kanabros for life all three of us ;)
Kaiser-Eoghan
But in general I do think shafts style lends itself at its best to more comedic work.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I actually felt that shafts style elevated their adaptation of Sangatsu. I find it easier to watch these slow paced shows than reading them. Also Kana Hanazawa.
SuperMario
Shaft's style can be a hit or miss with the audience, however. While I don't mind that, I still would recommend you try the manga instead
SuperMario
Oh, so you still have, like, 40 episodes left
Lenlo
Huh. Finally got around to March Comes in Like a Lion, gotta say. 3 episodes in, its pretty good
Kaiser-Eoghan
Speaking of it though, I wish they'd get that proposed new Vampire hunter D anime off the ground.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though my memory on this is extremely fuzy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know, I saw an article there on anime news network referring to the second vampire hunter D film, I know I watched it years and years ago, loved it, but I forget the plot, thinking about it now, how was the dude D was after supposed to survive without blood after buggering off to space alone with the girl?
Anonymous2786239
Amen to that
Anonymous2785164
I read blogs to see opinions on anime, not to read about how blog writer is much better than some youtuber I probably have never heard of :D
Anonymous2785164
Anyway, don't any of you guys let that get up to your head :p I'm also annoyed whenever media producers start mocking each other and setting themselves up as better.
Anonymous2785164
Nothing is more annoying to me than nerd doing the stereotypical nerd voice to mock people
Anonymous2785164
Either way, I kinda dislike majority geek youtubers because I find them all to be hypocrites. Like for example, complaining about commentors correcting them or nitpicking them when all of them are nitpickers themselves :P
Anonymous2785164
That said, he has habit of commenting on things way too early only to later on to be proven wrong by end of the anime :P
Anonymous2785164
That said, I don't remember Mother's Basement being that bad besides that he for most parts really sucks when talking about video games despite apparently having studied game development
Anonymous2785164
@AidanAK47: I don't actually like any of anime youtubers. They all seems to be pervs to me and I'm actually rather prude person :p
Anonymous2785164
Hmm this chat is being buggy again and I can't change username from anonymous right now :P ANnoying~
SuperMario
@Lenlo: Readers will enjoy us more if we can throw some meme references... proof that we're still not out of touch with current trends ^^
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I mean the opposite, the posts here are good because they don't use quips. They aren't fanboyish either.
Lenlo
Are you telling me I need to insert more quips. jokes and one-lines into my posts? Cause I can do that
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Drop grand blue if its taking up too much time, I know you are busy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Thats why I enjoy reading blog articles like on here. I feel the writers on here never sound like awful fanboys or quiplords.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*I have
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think its down to an idea have about vloggers/youtubers, that the videos will be full of unfunny quips and unrestrained fanboyism due to the guy doing the video can't keep himself in check.
Lenlo
Digibro isnt worth listening to imo
Kaiser-Eoghan
Never even really pursued listening to digibro. Although I probably should listen to eyepatchwolf apparently.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I should say the anime youtubers I've actually watched pertain to: Gigguk, one video by blackanimecritic, a few countdowns by Mistychronoxia and Animeman . I think I've watched maybe two of glass reflections reviews.
Anonymous2781300
I don't know, r/anime probably is also not the best sources; Youtube and Reddit are just the places I generally go to for large-scale anime discussion
Anonymous2781300
Oh my previous comment didn't post; basically I was saying that Anitube isn't super representative of audience popularity, at least as a whole, but it might offer some insight to at least a portion of it.
Anonymous2781300
*audience you're looking at: there's the Japanese audience and Western audience, but I feel like there's also like, another half of the world that most be people don't consider.
Anonymous2781300
It kind of depends which audience you
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't even watch gigguks videos anymore.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've never really cared enough to overexplore any of those anime youtube critics for the most part.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If someone keeps talking about something, eventually it'll sometimes work out and get through, then I'll at least have to see some of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I watched it because you kept saying not enough people were watching it.
AidanAK47
@Masky, cause Mothers basement did a video on it? Well hopefully it gets it some attention. Don't really like MB though. I mean "Gurren Meets Earthbound"? Jesus Christ.
Masky
Hmm, seems like Planet With is slowly getting more attention to it
Lenlo
I know im Shonen trash, but Hero Aca continues to be fantastic.
Animosh
You know, one person ends up broken through no fault of her own, and then ends up hurting herself and/or others to protect the only happiness she knows. And so the cycle continues.
Animosh
I thought Shio's backstory was really sad too. But yeah, although the show (and many of its characters) can be silly a lot of the time, there's a beating heart behind all of the craziness. Its main characters all have believable - if misguided - motivations, and the show portrays the cyclical nature of trauma very well.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: I think the scene with satou breaking down near episodes end were the standout. I often laugh at this show for its overthetopness, then makes me feel like a jerk by pulling something depressing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Escaflowne ended too soon and abruptly. I haven't seen rayearth but I have read the manga, so I don't know if the anime original content is as good.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've noticed that the voice acting tends to be worse in reverse harems then regular harems.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Regarding otome, one of the worst cases though had to be hakuouki though, just a bag of complete wasted potential.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: While I didn't dislike Red river, I have the unpopular opinion of preferring Basara because I found the central relationship more interesting.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Yes that was babylonia no shishi.
Amagi
I wish we could get isekai like Rayearth, Now and Then or Escaflown again.
Amagi
Sadly these series usually fail elsewhere, with the typical problems shoujo and otome series tend to have
Amagi
@SuperMario: strangely enough this is somewhat typical for shoujo whereas generic isekai can't get off that fake-rpg spleen. There is also a shoujo in which feMC gets transported into some old turkish setting and one with babylonia (think the latter was done by that mangaka that also did Cantarella).
Kaiser-Eoghan
Theres also a shoujo manga called babylonia no shishi.
SuperMario
maybe it's one of the earliest example of isekai if you don't regard isekai setting as strictly fantasy world.
SuperMario
" Or even something egyptian, babylonic, or mayan." -> actually they did just that. One of the old classic shoujo, Crest of the Royal Family, is about a girl transported into Egyptian royal family. https://myanimelist.net/manga/5284/Ouke_no_Monshou?q=Crest of the Royal Family
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think the success is, if a series can distract you and still make you feel something, even if there should have been more to the characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Animosh: Beyond Arthur and Dino, who always came off to me as "the bad guys to be defeated", I think I might have been so into Ash that I didn't really pay as much attention to his character development as you and Mario did.
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Forgive me for not covering this last week but believe me when I say it wasn’t due to lack of interest. Planet With still remains a show that just tops itself with every episode. Though I don’t have much to say about episode ten other than it being another episode which could have acted as […]

Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight – 10 [The Show Must Go On]

The narrative beat of Revue Starlight has reached its new tempo with the end of the audition. All the things that Revue Starlight has been building up to begin to payoff this week. I must say though, it comes out a bit too predictable this week. We have the last stage audition with literally the […]

Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro – 11 [Chio in the Middle of the Night/ Apocri!]

Well, no surprises here. Chio-chan flips back to its usual self. Chio-chan has always been a minimalist-set show, with mundane set up in which only a handful of characters carry the gag. It rings especially true this week, as Chio’s antic makes up the first half and Manana’s wild imagination drives the second. As per […]

Banana Fish – 11 [The Beautiful and Damned]

Welcome to another week of Banana Fish. This week it slows down, gives us some heartwarming character scenes and the beginnings of a gang war. Lets jump in! So, starting off, the general stuff. Overall I enjoyed Banana Fish this week, but we have started to see issues with the breakneck pace it’s had until […]

Steins;Gate 0 – 21 [Rinascimento of Image Formation -Return of Phoenix-]

This week Steins;Gate 0 gave me, most, of what I wanted. It gave us a journey through the future, a Time Leap chain and the return of our favorite mad scientist. However, for all that I love it, its to little to late. Lets jump in! So, where to start. Leaving the big spoilers for […]

Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight – 09 [On the Night of the Star Festival]

The last three episodes when Revue Starlight focuses on Banana’s arc brush off my own reservation for the show. This episode, for me, is almost perfect in its storytelling department. First, it builds up Banana’s conflict and then resolves them in an insightful manner. It puts Karen back again as the main protagonist (and the […]

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