Posted on 26 February 2018 with categories: 2011 Anime Retrospective, Chihayafuru, Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou

If you want a comparison to psgels’ reviews:

Chihayafuru

Heaven’s Memo Pad

Chihayafuru (Madhouse)

Chihayafuru is a sports show that done right. Moreover, it combines many good aspects of both josei and sports, making it thrilling to follow, while provide enough growth and conflicts for the main characters to achieve. Let’s me first point out how niche this sport Karuta is (and all the more reason to applause the show for bringing this niche sport to mainstream audience). Karuta is the sport that embrace the old to the modern Japan, it has a mixture between sport and poetry, it can be play competitively by people of all genders (can you think of other modern sports that allow this?), and lastly, unlike shogi players where they are full-time professional, all karuta players – even the Master and the Queen – aren’t. Most of them have office job or currently in college/ high-school. The latter, in particular, is one of the reason that make Chihayafuru interesting. For you see, people come to this sport purely by their passion. Chihayafuru’s core theme is the exploration of discovering and following your own passion. Each character has their own reason to play karuta, but they share the same love for the sport and it’s inspirational to see the team keeps trying their hardest and keeps improving themselves for the thing they love.

Chihayafuru also benefits from the fact that it understands sports, in general. I have some sports background so trust me when I say this: unless you’re incredibly talented, losing is always your best mate. You tend to lose way more than you win. And losing freaking hurts. EVERYTIME. In addition, your number one opponent is always yourself. Through the course of this season, Chihaya loses lots of times, some of them she was expected to win but failed due to her own lack of confidence. The show understands that losing is a natural part of the game, and never shy away from that. Secondly, I’m really digging how Chihayafuru underlines the fact that each player has their own karuta game; as in you can see their own personality reflected through the styles they play. Chihaya is quick-tempered; she’s born with fast style and quick reflex. Taichi relies more on his memory, while Desktomu uses statistic and analysis and Kana through her knowledge of the one hundred poems (if I were to approach karuta I’d be like Kana, as the “competitive” part is my least concern). These styles fit the personality of each player and as a whole, it’s a firm reminder that there is multifaceted approach to the game and more than once Chihaya learns how to improve her game by observing the good quality of other players.

It helps that the josei part of the show, the undertone relationship of the three mains, remains as a backbone and never overwhelm the whole show. At least for now the romance is kept at the right balance, while allow our characters growing, both in the game skills and in their maturity. I still don’t buy much about the affection of Chihaya towards Arata but I can live with that. If I have one main complain, however, it is that because the sports drama is so well done, when Chihayafuru tries to create its own conflict, it usually falls flat. At the top of my head I could name 2 instances like that (the bully act when they were primary schoolers – actually this show has a very insensitive depiction of bullying; the little drama of Desktomu trying to quit in the middle of the tournament). Other mild complain I would have is how the show can be damn overbearing at times with so much tears. I’m starting to wonder whether it caused by the source materials or by Madhouse volume up the emotional response.

All in all, Chihayafuru is a clear winner. The pacing and the production are top notch, the matches are exciting and thrilling and the characters are relatable with both their quirks, their chemistry and their deep. This is one of those rare show that has universal appeal, given I can pretty much recommend Chihayafuru to any other viewers, anime fan or not, without much hesitation. Can’t wait to watch its second season.

Rating: 83/100

Heaven’s Memo Pad (J.C.Staff)

Well, I’m thoroughly bored.

And I already put aside many of its obvious issues (like NEET detective agency – yeah it doesn’t make sense to me. Or after finishing the show I still don’t get the title at all. I know KamiMemo explained it somewhere but I failed to grasp it).

But let’s be positive. I will address many of the show’s strengths first before touch upon its problematic parts. The production values of this show are surprisingly above par for a low-tier title. The art settings remain its best assets. Each of the setting has a personality of their own and I certainly remember the ramen store, Alice’s room and even the garden rooftop fondly. I also like the way each case takes up usually about 2 or 3 episodes, which for me is a right length to introduce, develop and resolve each case (Un-Go suffered from this). The actual cases are a bit mixed though, as I only enjoyed the first and the last cases. Each arc revolves around a character in Narumi and Alice’s circle, so it’s a good opportunity to flesh out the said characters too.

Or so I thought.

Here’s the biggest issue with KamiMemo: All the characters feel pretty empty. You often see how I complain about characters betraying their own personality, right? Now, this is the exact opposite problem. All the characters of KamiMemo have significant traits that made them stand out at first glance, but they keep that same lines of thought for an entire season and thus they become a bunch of cardboards who say “cheese”. It feels to me that I was reading some typical Visual Novel about stereotyped stock characters. Take Doki Doki Literature Club, using those empty lines with a purpose. In this show they serve no purpose other than making the characters look cool. And cool dish gets cold really fast without any substantial support. As a result, it’s hard to care for any of the character, and it’s a big bummer because those cases based around those said characters. The main duo Alice and Narumi, likewise, still feel very plain and her tsundere act is not something that I need to see again. Alice sounds pretentious all the time and Narumi always shines when the plot calls for it; which again are just plain weak and terrible.

The actual cases themselves, are nothing worth bragging about. It’s neither realistic, nor well-made enough. Many contrived details in the service of moving the plot forward, many big words that trying too hard to impress and Alice has overpowered ability so that when she’s on board, everything is pretty much solved without much sweat. I figure the reason I like the first case is because the cast still feels fresh and I believe the last case redeems the show a fair bit (look, KamiMemo, at least Ayaka has some deeper level). KamiMemo still works as a mild mystery detective case, and the presentation is competent enough to keep viewers engaged, but the serious lack of well-developed characters makes it hard to invest to the show on deeper level.

Rating: 71/100

And done. Tell me your own thoughts on Chihayafuru and Heaven’s Memo Pad if you have seen either of these. Next post, to celebrate one of the most anticipated sequel of next season (no, not Legend of the Galactic Heroes), we will head back to the future for Steins;Gate and its diary in the future Mirai Nikki. Should be a fun ride, Doc. Till then.

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.

(more…)

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.

CHANGE USERNAME
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I enjoyed embrace of the serpent which has the same director as Birds of passage so I'll keep an eye out for it.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I'm going to see Roma and Birds of Passage this weekend. Really excited for both
Kaiser-Eoghan
As for the she-ra thing well, as I've gotten older I probably have avoided kids stuff more.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't want to see tokenism being seen as acceptance when it isn't, it feels that people are putting forth the idea that something is only being/can be accepted because its being portrayed in a tokenistic way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its fine, obviously to have strong female characters, Ripley in Alien, Sarah Conner in Terminator, awesome....Rey in star wars....no.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think too often shows and films, American ones today, are tokenistic or clicheed with inserting issues, merely just throwing them in or tacking them on for the sake of ticking boxes rather than any earnesty or doing anything.
Anonymous3086853
@SuperMario - I do. Yet at the same time it was a bit outside of my comfort zone, watching something like this considering that (let's be honest) msot shows are men oriented. Even the ones with great female characters. This one despite having tomboyish girls is mainly about these girls with male characters having supporting roles. I suppose that's were the uneasiness lies in my case.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Just got done watching both earlier, his dark humour jives well with me and I liked the concept.
SuperMario
@Kaiser @Animosh: if you haven't seen World of Tomorrow plsssss check it out. I can't recommend it highly enough
SuperMario
@Vonter: Maybe it's a good things that shows for general audiences like this have queer context. Don't you think?
Anonymous3086853
Also because I'm a bit immature, this show is kinda gay. There's a lot of ship baiting moments, one same sex couple in the last episode and rainbows, pastel colors, emasculated male characters and some female crossdressing.
Anonymous3086853
The weakest aspect is that several secondary characters get lost in the shuffle. Kinda like Big Hero 6 in which the team had personalities but just didn't had the time to develop in any meaningful way. Still both the main cast and villains were good and like I say the protagonist and antagonist had strong arcs for a first season.
Anonymous3086853
So I now finished watching She Ra, and it got even better as it was building towards the season's end. Thes strongest aspect is the rivalry between Adora and Catra, the chemistry is very strong, kinda like Optimus and Megatron or Xavier and Magneto. In which both parts seem equally capable and to have mind games with the other.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh hey cool, rain town is done by the Penguin hhighway anime movie guy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It looks like I haven't seen Don Hertzfedlts World of tomorrow films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also Prince Achmed and How Wang-Fo Was Saved.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah. yes, thanks animosh, I had a look at Rain town there, I like the style it was done in, it achieves the emotions its trying to convey well without needing dialogue, piano score actually helps rather than hinders.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Glassy ocean, that was another short I watched lately.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh inka isha is country doctor.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I know Mario has seen this style on animation, but anyone else see any oil on glass animation?
Kaiser-Eoghan
I actually prefer robot carnival to genius party but liked both.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Zepo, The Pride of Strathmoor were recent animated shorts I watched.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Recently I watched two shorts, death and the mother and pleasures of war.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd say any eastern european short films would be worth anyones time.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not familiar with rain town or Inaka Isha .
Amagi
Kaiser: Have you seen Inaka Isha from Kafka?
Animosh
In the meanwhile, though, I'd also be very interested in recommendations! The shorts I mentioned are among my favorite animated works, so if you know anything similar, please let me know. :)
Animosh
For western animation I really like the Don Hertzfeldt shorts. And there was this short called "Rain Town" that was really impressively animated. I'm sure there were others, but my long-term memory is pretty lousy. If something else comes to mind I'll let you know.
Animosh
I'm pretty sure you're already going to be familiar with all of my favorites, but here you go: Morimoto's shorts are all fantastic (Dimension Bomb, Beyond, Noiseman Sound Insect, etc), and two others that come to mind are Cat Soup and Kigeki (or Comedy) by Nakazawa. There are also some great collections out there (like the Genius Party ones), but again, you've probably seen those already.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If anyone has any suggestions for weird short animations, I'm looking for excuses to watch some more and I'm in the mood for them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Masky: Mario's youtube link had cgi models of rem and ram in the video.
Masky
I'm confused when was Rem even mentioned
Kaiser-Eoghan
I only ever watched he-man and stuff related to it in passing when I was younger, Conan was more my thing back then.
Kaiser-Eoghan
For so long I'd always referred to she-ra as she-man.
AidanAK47
@Mario, What is this heresy!
....
....Rems always cute.
Anonymous3084910
Hilda is fine, though is very laidback kinda like a young reader's novel. It has its moments but its fantasy with slice-of-life coming of age.
Anonymous3084910
@SuperMario Yeah I know, She Ra is the twin sister of He Man. But strangely it seems Dreamworks may not have the right to those characters. It was a marketing idea trying to bring more girls to that universe but like most girls show from the time it had a very flat depiction of what little girls want to see.
SuperMario
Sorry Aidan, I know it's blasphemy but I have to post here. Enjoy the OP song with the twins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9MUjISNm0U&index=4&list=PLU56jBSlcHw8-ol9Hi4lJ0GR0tU6EOf2a
SuperMario
I'll probably check out Hilda. Heard a lot of hypes about that show
SuperMario
@Vonter: I've heard of She-Ra, she's the female counterpart (well, sister) of He-Man (the most powerful man in the universe and the secret identity of Prince Adam). Sounds silly but I'm not even kidding
Vonter
All in all, despite not being a big thing, I think is an enjoyable recommendation. My only nitpick is that it maybe too light hearted for some kinda like above My Little Pony but below something Voltron. Also despite being less childish than the original is still kinda of girly with lots of pastel colors although it balances it a bit having girls being more tomboyish in different degrees.
Vonter
Like with Voltron it amuses me seeing anime tropes being played through western lens. Since I'm a bit hesitant to say that could this count as a harem series despite not being male gaze moments? Also having the most sensible hotspring episode I've seen.
Vonter
In this one this She Ra has pathos. A bit like Korra there's doubt in her role and also a complicated relationship with her rival. I do like the role reversal in the knight's tale this clearly is, in that most roles that would be played by men are played by women in this story. Matriarchy, displacement of both femminine beauty but also empowerment.
Vonter
So I've watched some of the new She Ra from Netflix. So far I'm in, it's not deep but it's quite charismatic. I do like there's more pathos in regards to these characters which pretty much were confined to their archetype to an extreme like the original Power Rangers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It manages to make watching something like running engaging, when I'd otherwise probably not watch the sport. Also, last week the show ended up popping into my head when I was sitting around doing pretty much nothing and made me think "Ok fuck it, not sitting around doing nothing, going to go out for a run around the block"
Lenlo
I also agree, characters losing in sports is important. They can't start at the top, it makes the series lose meaning
Lenlo
I quite enjoyed Kaze Fui this week. I think your correct that the one who got the reality check was Kurahara, who thought he was the only one able to actually make it. I also thing that he has a competitive streak a mile wide, and might be a little afraid of failure. Doesnt think the team can make it, so why bother
Kaiser-Eoghan
Think I wasn't i the mood for honda-san this week even though I laughed.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I like it when sports series actually show the characters you know...actually lose.
Anonymous3083989
Huh, interesting in this episode of Kaze ga that it's Kakeru who got a reality check during the track meet since he was beaten by two other runners. I think we're due for an episode soon where he has to confront his past demons instead of fleeing from them.
Anonymous3083626
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Aging in fiction, I think has more to do with the story than the characters. I mean the jokes about Ash Ketchum, Detective Conan, Archie. The Flinstones tried to make different stories by aging Pebbles and Bam Bam. Or Batman having two Robins graduating into their own heroes. But in the end dynamics change, hence why most cartoons don't age the characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which is why when aging does occur in anime/manga, such as in vinland saga or nanoha for example, its appreciated.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And of course, animated characters often don't age much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can remember enjoying the simpsons movie back when I watched it, but thinking about it it really was just an extended episode. Really the show peaked with the who shot Mr Burns episode. Catching bits of recent episodes and seeing them use modern stuff while they never age seems weird too.
Amagi
I do think series are allowed to move forward though, I am kinda interested in the Pkmn movie for example. But certain shows should just end, Simpsons for example was a parody of the 90s, it just can't work in a more modern setting IMO.
Amagi
I stopped with the Simpsons when Maude was killed/died, it was just a step in the wrong direction they should have never done and it killed the series for me. I disliked it before already though, I think I noticed the series getting worse since season..9? Or 10, not sure anymore.
Amagi
Anime for Dorohedoro announced.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Therefore ruining the fanservice fun for everybody.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My favourite beach episodes are ones where it rains and they end up not being able to go.
Kaiser-Eoghan
After that it was just the film for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually, regarding the simpsons, the episode I stopped on was sometime in the early 2000s, Homer was stuck on some island resort or something.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I suppose it was just as much a case of falling out of watching/playing too and then there being so many episodes/games catchup was impossible. I probably should read the manga someday.
Anonymous3081957
@Kaiser-Eoghan -Kinda like Sponge Bob, Power Rangers or The Simpsons, I can't blame those who move forward, It's imposible for a show to go that long without losing steam. I did check the Sun and Moon first season and while I think the personality and energy is better it doesn't exactly push the concept forward. Still somehow Pokemon is still a phenomenon.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: Very strange hearing a Pikachu talk with Ryan Reynolds voice. But my days of pokemon are behind me.
KyokoHyuga
?????
KyokoHyuga
who likes pokemon here
SuperMario
@Amagi: I think the person who made the sub for Maquia did a pretty neat job. Not perfect but the translation flows well
Vonter
We've seen realistic Pokémon fanart, but how does a movie looks when it attempts it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8CKgQFo5U8
Amagi
How are the subs for Maquia? I only heard anons complain about it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*dealing with
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though you should really torrent it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is 1080p stream on kiss anime, if you hate deal with the ads on that site the 4up stream on anilinkz has the best quality of the available links
Lenlo
Where did you see Maquia online? I still need to watch it. PM it to me on discord maybe? Pretty please? <3
SuperMario
One fact that not many people know is that Penguin Highway is penned by Tomihiko Morimi. It indeed has many Morimi's signature inputs
SuperMario
This year, I'm doing well with catching up anime films (kudos for Australian's Madman who always license these titles very quickly). So far, I've watched Mirai, Maquia, Penguin Highway, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas and My Hero Academia the Movie
SuperMario
So I watched two anime movies this last week, Penguin Highway in theatre and Maquia online. Both of them are pretty solid in general, especially Penguin that has magical realism elements and some great chemistry. Whereas Mari Okada's writting still rubs me in the wrong way sometimes
Lenlo
D: He did, back in August actually apparently
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I heard Dino's voice actor died.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If we all took Goblin slayers attitude to trolls, then we would more easily ignore the trolls =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
Big twist in the golden kamuy manga.
Animosh
@SuperMario: remember that in the voice drama Rikka mentioned talking to Yuuta in their classroom during the ball game. Pretty sure it's about that.
SuperMario
@Animosh: i just watched the episode and noticed the lyrics as well. "The Promise" seems vague at the moment. Could be between Yuuta and whoever fits but I agree the "save someone from boredom" is about Akane
Animosh
You learn something every day. ;) Honestly though, I actually skipped the opening, so I hadn't even noticed that it had been translated until others pointed it out. And most of the time the lyrics are just cheesy one-liners, so I usually don't pay much attention to them either. But once in a while there's some nice hints hidden in there...
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I never really ever paid attention to the lyrics in anime openings, I'd never thought to.
Animosh
The Gridman OP has been translated for the first time, and there's some pretty interesting reveals in there: it mentions a "promise" made in a classroom (so now we know how Yuuta and Rikka bonded in the past - glad it wasn't a simple confession), and talks of "rescuing" someone (presumably Akane) from boredom. So I guess she'll join the good guys eventually?
Lenlo
1200 words. I need to stop writing so much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I haven't seen last weeks episode of Irozuku or this weeks =< I'm waiting now for a bit to see if the series paysoff.
Animosh
Goddamn those magic segments in Irozuku were stunning! It's a shame its humdrum drama can't live up to its visual beauty, but I'll take it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think Ash's design is based a bit on River phoneix.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry Eiji but your Ash is in another castle.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@CoolerAnon: I was about to say that. Kidnapping gets used alot in shojo.
Anonymous3072040
Yeah Ash is basically Princess Peach
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I share your concerns, I don't know what studio is doing it. Some people want it to be mappa, some don't want it to be polygon pictures to adapt it. Its and long and violent manga, with some very funny at times dark humour, it could end up rushed and/or censored.
Anonymous3072021
As much as I love Dorohedoro I'm unsure if I should be happy or worried at it getting an adaptation, it isn't exactly the kind of story I imagine being easy to adapt well.
Lenlo
Yeah, I am touching on that in my writeup as we speak. The compressed story is causing Ash to be captured every other week.
Animosh
I agree Banana Fish was great this week though! My only gripe is that I'm getting sick and tired of seeing Ash get kidnapped again and again. He just escaped a couple of episodes ago! And he's just a lot more fun to watch when he's out there doing stuff.
Animosh
In a way the fights actually feel more realistic to me than those in Banana Fish. Sure, they're fantastical, bizarre even, but its battle system has a clear internal logic, and generally no power is infallible (each has its limitations). In Banana Fish the fights are rather poorly thought out by comparison. Their purpose is more to make Ash look cool than to give him realistic hurdles to overcome.
Animosh
@Kaiser: what sets Jojo apart from other battle shounen for me is how ridiculously creative its fights can get. Part 2 already shows some signs of this, but the introduction of the Stand system in Part 3 pushes it to another level, and in Part 4 the fights are consistently awesome. There are no simple beam struggles here: every fight is a battle of wits, between people with wildly different powers
Niel
Vinland Saga anime, and Now Dorohedoro just got announced. i'm really liking this trend.
Lenlo
Lots to writeup on Banana Fish this week.
Lenlo
Just finished it, I really like Blanca.
Lenlo
Because Jackie Chan and his stunt crew are some of the best in the world. There is a reason he has to insure his guys from his own pocket. No agency will take them
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have no idea how the hell Jackie Chan is still alive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Action works best for me when I really feel that theres danger involved. Thats why when some actors do their own stunts, you can fear for the actors life, and also the character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And thats why I'm a big fan of all that Chinese martial arts stuff from the 60s and 70s, that really expertly crafted chereography.
Lenlo
As for action, I like good choreography more than any super powers. Its why Cowboy Bebop, Seirei no Moribito, Sword of the Stranger and some Naruto fights are fantastic.
Lenlo
Im about to watch this weeks episode, so this chat makes me hopeful. I agree Ash and Eiji are the backbone of the series, and yeah me and Kaiser both agreed that the Gang war aspect was pretty weak, though I thought the finish with Arthur wasnt half bad
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I think Banana fish has a great grit to it for this reason.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm even more thankful to Banana fish too for that it keeps the action within the bounds of out of fantasy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've always been kind of a guns and swords and kungfu gut.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Black lagoons great example of anime action I can get behind.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I always found weapon combat and fist/kicking combat more raw and real,tangible than beamspam.
Anonymous3070972
But yeah if you're not a fan supernatural power fantasy action shounens, then maybe not your cup of tea, and that's totally cool
Anonymous3070972
Oh also if I'm recommending a fight from part 4, I'd say check out Highway Star
Anonymous3070972
Kira is a pretty cool villain though; he's always underpowered compared to the main heroes, but manages to somehow get out of the situation with luck or smarts; if nothing else, I'd recommend watching some Youtube clips
Anonymous3070972
*Turn off. lol.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its more than, even when I was younger supernatural power fantasy action shounen never appealed to me.
Anonymous3070972
Admittedly JoJo always has bad with exposition though, and always will be just due to the style, so that can definitely be a turn on for some people
Anonymous3070972
If you like slice of life with hijinks and a murder mystery combined with cool battles, you'll like part 4
Anonymous3070972
Yeah I can see why you might not like part 1 & 2, they were made in the 80s; I'd recommend part 4 and part 5 (ongoing rn) tbh, I feel like those are better for a modern viewing experience
Anonymous3070972
I used to think that BF's greatest strength was the plot; know I realize it's really about Ash & Eiji's connection first and foremost: as good as the plot can be, Ash & Eiji's relationship is absolutely the backbone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Also that scene where Ash is thinking to himself, looking over Eiji.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nah, I pretty much gave up on jojo midway through part 2.
Anonymous3070771
Also, anybody notice Blanca's VA is Kira (from Diamond is Unbreakable)? What a wonderful duwang!
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: The producer guy Miyano is voicing, much like the show is irritating because the show has this "look at me look at me" feel to it, it just comes off as desperate to me and this is just going by the one episode I watched and hated.
Anonymous3070771
What's that damn piano song that plays when Ash and Eiji are talking about Japan. It's too good. For some reason, it's really magical
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I was the one who said that.
@Niello: You don't need to see steins; gate zero, myself and lenlo discussed it to death as it was airing, its all over the place. I like the original too but after a while of the first half being fun, I just wanted it to start.
Anonymous3070771
Phew, great episode of BF; whoever said the gang war stuff was the weakest point was right. this stuff is getting fantastic again.
Niello
Also I agree, Zombieland first episode was amazing, second episode is still rather great, and then the other episodes have just been meh.
Niello
In Zombieland it doesn't help that the character he's voicing with that tone is an asshole, which isn't a good combination because it's making him more annoying by the episode.
Niello
Steins;Gate is pretty good, but I don't think I like it nearly as much as most people do (I gave it a 7/10). I also haven't bothered with Steins;Gate 0. And although I didn't mind Myano in Steins;Gate, I didn't particularly like his voice there either.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love the sombreness of Blanca's character. Poor Ash, so broken in this episode.
AidanAK47
Yeah after episode 2 it's been a downgrade. Zombieland is still alright to watch but it really has become what it parodied.
Vonter
Zombieland sadly has winded down. I mean it was expected but still I was hoping some more creative attempts to use in the typical genre. It'll have been better if they had waken up more slowly in order to flesh the archetypes a bit more. It still has charismatic moments though.
Lenlo
Really Niello? See, I like it because it's the voice we never got in Steins;Gate 0. Its Okabe's Kyouma voice, and I have a nostalgic love for it
Masky
Wasn't gyary isekai another one that existed?
Niello
I hate Miyano voice in Zombieland Saga and find him annoying tbh.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I am getting sick of self aware humour though. I see this show as something that was fun to make (such as Miyano seems to be feeling based on performances) but not fun for me to watch and that kind of extends to the manager who while I agree would be the best part of the show, I stopped finding funny after the joke was done.
Lenlo
For me, the main selling point of Zombieland Saga was always Miyano. I love this mans crazy voice.

And in regards to Isekai, discounting this most recent one, SAO actually is pretty good this season so far. Kirito is still bland, but its taking things a lot slower and actually building the world. Its taking its time with 52 episodes
Kaiser-Eoghan
By the sound of it, if some who liked the first episodes don't care for the ones beyond those two episode, then I'm glad I stopped watching.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I did flick through episode 2 but the rap battle thing was particularly awful.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I couldn't stand the humour and have up on the show after the first half of episode 1.
Anonymous3065780
What Zombieland does have that Ore doesn't is better animation and Miyano hamming it up. But that's all it has going for it at the moment.
Anonymous3065780
You have a few "ha ha look at this" moments scattered here and there like how Ore episode 5 was basically one big middle finger to the nature of anime production, or Zombieland's Tae Yamada. But the parody value from the first two episodes is all but gone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Its in part my own fault , I jumped the gun in the first half of episode one then all goodwill I had for it died after the first couple of minutes.
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