Posted on 16 October 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, WWW.Working!!

A-1 Pictures is a studio that created a lot of my favorite comedies, which have always been hit or misses. Yet they seem to have fallen off the deep-end on comedies recently, as they haven’t put out anything worthwhile (excluding sequels) since Silver Spoon in 2013. Maybe Zveda if I’m feeling generous…Either way, this one doesn’t seem to break that trend strong enough. What I said about episode 2 still stands, and on top of that, I can summarize my problem with episode three in two words: So. Flat.

Now, I love flat humor as evident in my review of Gugure Kokkuri-San awhile back, but there’s such thing as too much of a good thing. It only works for me when it’s contrasted with high energy to sort of highlight its silliness, but here, a majority of the cast are too dull, soft spoken, and deadpan.

That won’t be a problem for long if the characters don’t stay so one dimensional, so I’ll have to see how the show progresses, but it isn’t looking very good. The issue right now really is the cast itself. There are too many characters that are the quiet, soft-spoken “deadpan” type for there to be much variety in the delivery of the jokes. Delivery is really important for me. But Muranushi, Kondou, Kamakura, Shindou, and the MC don’t look like they’re going to stop their flat acting anytime soon. This episode doesn’t get much more than a small chuckle out of me, with Miyakoshi still being the only character that isn’t completely dull.

I really do want to find bigger things to praise this episode for, but I’d be grasping at straws. The way we’re already being loaded with Shindou’s uninteresting background story (continuing since the last episode) confuses the tone, and like I mentioned previously, the pacing is still an issue. I feel like this show already revealed everything it had to offer way too quickly, and even then what I saw wasn’t very interesting. 

However as I stated earlier, I have enough faith in Karino and A-1 to hope for the best. A weak start doesn’t mean anything, and if nothing else, the show has charm. The point is, this show has problems that can easily go away once it can vary up its comedic voice and create dynamic characters. Also, please let character interactions be more than just two or three talking amongst each other. That gets old really quickly, I’d love to feel like all the characters could actually exist next to each other.

Posted on 9 October 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, WWW.Working!!

So…I’ve gone ahead and rewatched this episode twice because I wanted to be sure, but the pacing is definitely moving at breakneck speed compared to Wagnaria. This episode so far has a bunch of the qualities that I rather dislike. I mean, the characters break off into twos or threes and do their own thing without interacting with nearly anyone else, and by that I mean the kitchen staff, servers, and the MC do their own thing without building up everyone as a whole. That’s why the pacing must feel so fast, because the episode keeps jumping between a handful of people each doing their own thing.

This will be the last time I make the comparison to Wagnaria, but it really is a change. Episode 2 of Wagnaria made it the most entertaining show of its season because it created a cohesive cast by its second episode, creating scenarios where all of the staff could interact with each other. Contrary to this episode, it was only later into its season when it let the characters split off and do their own thing. It’s worthwhile to be a little cautious with any spin-off and it looks like I can’t let my guard down yet. Especially after seeing that the characterization isn’t anything to write about, and the variety of humor isn’t all exactly there yet either.

I suppose it’s easier to find what doesn’t work comedically than to do otherwise. So to its credit, Miyakoshi is the best part of this episode. I especially like her interaction with Daisuke and her acting is easily the most enthusiastic out of all the cast, who’re rather mostly…average. She brought the most energy into the episode, and her showing up at Higashida’s house worked really well.

In any case, what makes the show from being yet another average slice of life is that it works off character quirks to spice up every episode, most of the side characters still play off amusing traits if they aren’t very developed yet. So in the end, I personally prefer the tighter approach to comedy (with closely-knit character interactions), it creates more personality. It also makes them more relatable.

The music is alright, the opening is good but the ending song is pretty generic, I loved the soundtrack toWagnaria and Servant x Service so it’s somewhat of a letdown to hear some standard fare background music in this episode. I’d look forward to seeing the show crank up the energy more, so far Miyakoshi is the only one with any kind of real enthusiasm in her character.

Posted on 14 August 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Neon Genesis Evangelion

Let me just start by apologizing for the delay of this post. I guess the only privilege of covering a retrospective show is you can cover it any time you want. I kid, I kid. The truth is I just binge-watched many series so I don’t have time to do this review. While I’m enjoy writing reviews, it’s no secret that it has eaten most of my free time and sometimes I miss a good old time when I still have time to watch everything and not to worry about review. Anyways, my ranting ends now and I hope I will review this piece more frequently. Now, moving on.

This episode shows us another facet of being a hero. It’s not all shine and glory, and Shinji proves to be as atypical a hero as you could imagine. Told through the point of view of new Shinji’s new classmates Toji and Kensuke, Shinji at first appears as a thorn to their eyes. His sudden spotlight for being the one who save the city strikes a wrong note to those guys, and to make it worse Toji’s sister was injured from that fight, something which he blames for the fault of the hero. To add salt to the wound, Shinji himself confesses that he did not choose to protect the city. Seriously if I were Toji, I would not stop with just one punch. Shinji’s submissive seriously gets on my nerve! But when the Angel attacks again, Toji and Kensuke has a real chance to witness what it really means to be a hero and save the world. It’s all messy. Eiji got suffered, both physically and mentally. It’s a life and death matter where you could end up death with just one wrong move. Shinji pushes himself to the limit that it borders on insanity. Kudos Gainax for creating a battle that gripping, on-the-edge and terrified, instead of going over the top like most mecha action sequences tend to do.

The original Japanese title really nails another theme of this episode. “The Phone that Never Rings” best described about Shinji’s character. The more I think about it the more I see him not really fitted for this type of job. He’s a loner, he’s submissive (look at the way he talks to himself “aim in the middle”) and worse he sees no point for himself to fight. Even in his normal school life, he has no friend. As I mentioned above the battle was gripping because we witness Shinji nearly breaks down, but the worst thing of them all is the whole mess is still working. As we learn in consequential theory, if one still produce a desired result then nothing is needed to worry about, right? In this case not in a long shot. If Shinji keeps pushing himself like that, eventually he’ll break. Everyone breaks, it’s biology; as they say in the (in)famous torture scene in Zero Dark Thirty. Seriously I think saving the world is too much a burden for our Shinji. Not that I blame him really since it’s already a very obscure idea to rely on 14-year-old kids to fight the alien. Well, we still have plenty to go but as far as 3 episodes, EVA has already established its strong grasp on the ruined and shattered theme. This time I will try to get the next episode review quicker so stay tune. Until then!

Posted on 29 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Neon Genesis Evangelion

Turns out that our boy Shinji is after all THE ONE, akin to Neo in the Matrix or every main mecha hero for that matter. He has been chosen, he must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as he has. Sound like I’m complaining, right? Well, I’m not because I think this is a necessity for the series: you have to build the foundation first in order to deconstruct it. You have to establish all the genre tropes first before you crush them, move its parts apart and then assemble the parts again. Why do I think this series is a mecha deconstruction then? Because of the way this episode framed the story. It’s a bold choice to jump-cut from the climax of the battle to the next day where Shinji wakes up quietly in a hospital. The show deliberately hides the outcome of the battle till the end of episode to the point it had fooled me to believe that the battle was a failure, but in a larger sense, this is not unlike a failure. Nobody comes out as happy and excited as we normally expect from the winner side. Gendo, the one seems the most pleased with the outcome, was scolded by the committee for using the budget for his own personal gains (build a toy and let the son plays it); Misato voices her concerns out loud; the citizens in the city were afraid and planned to head out of the city; and certainly our Shinji was not happy about the result, NOT ONE BIT. The ceiling motifs in this episode is a nice touch of symbolism, because it sums up very well the disconnection between Shinji with the rest. Shinji just don’t feel the city as his home, as the place where he belongs. He just wants to be left alone and has nothing to do with the whole mess. There’s already some intrigue moments of the images of the Angels messing with his head, and I appreciate those moments both in terms of the symbolism it conveys, and the visual it possesses. The show really conveys a false sense of security well, indeed it feels more like they are more terrified with the potential of the Eva than satisfied with it. The Eva just literally went berserk and saved the day, but notice that Shinji at that time was unconscious and I do feel like Shinji just become the Eva at that point. Is it the trigger in order to activate the full potential of Eva? Well, I guess I just have to wait until later episodes to find out meself.

Now let’s talk a bit about the world-building of EVA. When Misato shows Shinji about the rising buildings, I think it summarizes the world of EVA the best. The city as a whole looks like a fortress (and as Misato points out, functions like one), this is basically a battlefield. The rising towers and buildings adjusts well with the theme the show establishes so far. Those building, just like our Shinji, hiding underground, waiting for the sun set to raise ahead. The committee also mentions about a certain project that is more important than defensing against Angels. What could be more important than protecting the world from aliens? For now, my guess is that they’re building another perfect city in order to get the hell out of here. Well, I feel like I have caught up too much with all the symbolisms of the show and I think some of my take here might go well off the mark, but really, aside from Utena and Monogatari series, no other show has ever given me that much imageries to chew on and I really appreciate that. All those aside, I really like the Misato’s apartment and the untidy trash, beer cans and takeaway junk foods everywhere really hint a lot about her character. To say that I still can’t put my fingers on what the hell the penguin doing in the episode?

~SuperMario~

Posted on 22 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Neon Genesis Evangelion

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that I just don’t want to be any part of it. Asking any anime fan, especially from Western culture, “what series they think is the best” or “what is the first series they saw that got them into anime”, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop would likely to appear on people’s lips (I’m guilty of the second, with Cowboy Bebop). With that said, better be late than never. Since psgels himself never actually covered the original show or even rated it, I think this is a good opportunity for me to give EVA a retrospective review (not much of a retrospective really, since this show is new to me), at the same time give readers who already burnt out from new anime something they can chew on every week. Again, and I really stress it this time, I write this because I want to, but if you rather prefer me not to review shows in the past, all you need is shout out in the comment and we will take it into our consideration.

Now looking at this first episode, it struck me hard how desperate and pathetic team human is. The first episode wastes no time to show us the high stakes situation here with all the chaos and the ruined city caused by the Angels. The Angels, moreover, are overpowered beings with their own intelligence to boost. Our human’s ace card, N-2 mine – which mostly destroyed our own buildings and almost the whole city, couldn’t bring the Angel down. The whole situation got so desperate that they had to force a child, who never actual pilot anything before, to control Eva. It is also a bold choice to show us the very first image of Rei, when she was a TOTAL MESS.

Shinji and his father’s relationship is of course the real meat of this first episode. The way Shinji always looks for the recognition from his father, and the way Gendo uses his son with no emotional attachment whatsoever aren’t the most comfortable things to witness, to say the least. Calling him down so he had to pilot the damn thing when he’s clearly not ready, and then about to dismiss him when he back out? Ways to go Gendo! As far as I can see, this cold relationship hits directly to the insecurity of Shinji, and honestly his passive behaviors, while believable, could be a pain to watch later on.

From the technical side, as far as the look and feel of EVA go, I’d say that I pretty enjoy it. The chaos settings and destruction motifs (falling buildings, bombing, even the destruction of characters themselves) really give you clear idea what this show is going for. The characters do not appear to be real or deep yet, but still are functional enough for this first episode. If there is one thing that doesn’t really translate well to me, it’s the character designs, they look kinda bland and exactly what you expect from the 90s anime show (in other words, dated). But well I’m never much of a fan of the 90s character designs (with only Cowboy Bebop for me still stood well after all this time, but even in that regards Faye’s big boobs turn me off every now and then). The visual looks great, there are many of shots that visually frame how Shinji struggling with the decision, especially the part where he stands in front of the Unit 01, his will-be partner, or more correctly, a part of himself in the future.

Alrighty, that’s it for now. I will try to get the second episode in couple of days so that we can catch this up with the new anime’s current week. Let us know what you think about the EVA series and if you still remember anything from the first episode. It must have been a long time since you guys last watched it, right?

~SuperMario~

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