Posted on 11 February 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, OVAs and Movies:

Mary's movie poster

Wooper: Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first feature film from Studio Ponoc, which spun off from Studio Ghibli in early 2015. Given Ghibli’s towering reputation, the bar was high for this inaugural flick, which recently made its way to U.S. theaters, giving Lenlo and I a chance to see it on the big screen. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, whose previous work includes When Marie was There and The Secret World of Arrietty, selected a source novel (“The Little Broomstick”) that landed his newest film in safe, Ghibli-reminiscent territory. That choice works both for and against the movie, because while its familiar characters and motifs of magic and flight are visually arresting, many anime fans will have seen it all before. There’s hardly a single frame in this film that you couldn’t hang above your mantle, but its story never manages to generate that same impact.

Lenlo: Agreed. Mary and the Witch’s Flower managed to trick me with its Ghibli-esque style a few times. However that also means the comparisons to Ghibli are inevitable. It’s a perfect example of the limits of beautiful animation without a good story to back it up. It’s the classic “little girl finds magical land, saves it from some evil and is home in time for dinner”. I was never surprised by it and often let down. My biggest problem with it however was the criminal use of its characters. Flanagan and Great-Aunt Charlotte are underused and feel more like Director ‘Deus Ex Machina’ plot devices rather than real characters.

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Posted on 4 January 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews

In this Corner of the World (for the purpose of this review, I’ll refer it as “Corner”), is the truest slice of life drama if you ever encounter one, in that it’s a slice into an ordinary life of an ordinary girl during the War period. That speaks into the very first strength of Corner, it breathes life and it feels all too real. Suzu, our protagonist, is a normal girl who loves to draw and a bit of an airhead herself. Throughout the course of the movie, we see her grown through a passage of time, get married to a stranger in a strange town, find accustomed to the new life, new family, new hometown before the war comes in and destroys everything. Quiet, slow but melancholic and beautiful at times, Corner shines through mostly because of its restraint to go heavy-handed. They could easily go melodramatic in many moments, consider they’re dealing with war issues, one of the most brutal subject on film. Yet somehow they know that the main focus is the life of Suzu, and the terror of war ultimately is just a part of it.

Coming to Corner, I originally expected another war treatment in the veins of Graves of Fireflies or Barefoot Gen or Giovanni’s Island – a full-blown lost of innocence drama about the horrific consequences the war causes to normal citizen. I was taken by surprise by how Corner instead focuses on the ordinary life of Suzu, on her little moments of living her life, the life that she has no control over. The whole film is painted in a way that it feels like a memory, a look back to the harsh period of Japan with a tender perspective, an outlook that both bitter and sweet at the same time. In Corner, there’s no big emotional outburst in display. There’s no angsty statement to be found at the horrible injustice of war. There’s no grand decision that change the course of war. Just like in our own real life the life-changing moments happen only few times, with long in-between time we stay almost the same, Corner is more interested to focus on those in-between moments.

As Corner aims for simple approach, the character designs are decidedly simple, never stand out, which remind me greatly to the art of the old era. The cast share formal, yet natural chemistry and even her relationships with the members of her husband side, especially with her sister in law have some solid development. The tone is light-hearted and episodic – and surprisingly – good humor, but we can all feel the weight behind each fleeting moment. The light humor is what I really appreciate about this movie. As I often see it, if you can find humor even in the worst possible situation, then you can go a long way. Imagine how the father in law falls asleep in the middle of the air raid, or the members of the house nearly burst out laughing with the idea of Suzu being a spy.

In my opinion, the war section wouldn’t be that powerful without the full-of-life coming of age story about Suzu in the first half. She has a normal childhood with a small crush and some true moments of happy carefree life, she then marriages off to a guy she barely knows in a faraway land, spends her days away doing housework. Suzu is significant in a way she never stands out, or like her sister in law comments: “leading a boring life”. Yet, she is the perfect protagonist for Corner. She presents the lives of many ordinary people in that era, the lives that we can all relate to. The latter part has some quietly devastating moments but like what comes before, it becomes just a part of Suzu’s life. For me at least, I feel heartfelt how despite everything happens, Suzu and her family, and in a larger extend, the strength of normal people manage to recover and continue to live on their lives, with a smile on their faces.

In the end, I wholeheartedly recommend In this Corner of the World. Quiet, subtle, humane, true to life, and weirdly humorous and warm, Corner again is a perfect example of a work that can shake off all the flashiness to seek for something real, and simple. The result, of course, is far from “simple” and “ordinary”, the mastery that is so hard to obtain. 2016 and 2017 have been great years for anime movies and Corner stays rightly at the near top of those offerings. A marvelous achievement from studio MAPPA.

Posted on 3 January 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Houseki no Kuni

Make no mistake, Houseki no Kuni is the most ambitious anime project of the year. Not only because it’s an entirely CG project (and make a damn good use of it, mind you), or because of its narrative scope that at once strange, grand and beauty, but also in its very conception in their production phase. Unlike normal anime products, Orange studio approached the material as early as nearly 2 full years before its initial broadcasting, and the production went through many unusual phases that took much longer time for the studio to complete. This is to say it was a rough path that they decided taking on and the result showcases how much confidence they adapt the material. This season feels much more as an introduction to an epic story and at its core Houseki serves as an coming of age story to our protagonist Phos, while exploring the insecurities of those gems towards their own roles. As I compare the manga and the anime adaptation together, I still regard the manga as a more astonishing version, but by all mean it’s not a criticism against the anime. Houseki the anime approaches the source in the best way it possibly can, both highlights the unique appeal of its gems cast, striking visual metaphoring and dynamic fights sequence that make it one of the best adaptation in my eyes: both respect the core themes that make the manga stands out, at the same time is vibrant with its own personality.

Houseki is a show of pure beauty. Its world building is ethereally fresh and rich, at once strange and full of mysteries yet to explore. Houseki features the world where the three races: the Lunarians who live over the Moon, the Gems who live in land and the Admirabilis who live under the sea. Underneath that surface where we follow the Gems doing their daily patrol and fight off the invaders Lunarians, the three races are hinted to be the three basic components that form the human race: the Soul, the Bone and the Flesh, respectively. Houseki is the work that is dense with Buddhism symbols, images and philosophy. This is further underlined in the way the character designs are drawn: the Moon People are identical entities, the Gems have their lower bodies almost the same, only the Gems-reflected in their hairs are vastly different and the Snails have their own distinctive, over-designed body with clear sexual traits. Speaking of the ambiguous of gender issues, Houseki might be the only series I could give a plus (+) rating for its sensitive approach to the non-gender beings, something that is rare even in today’s standard and something that speaks further to the originality of Houseki.

In order to approach the strange beauty of the Gems and the stylish dynamic of their fights, Houseki decided to go full CG – a decision that freaked out the manga fans considering the bad track of full CG shows. The computer generated might get some time to get used to, but the more Houseki displays its visual the more it reaches its new height. The characters look gorgeous in their CG models, the CG allows Houseki to experiment with many unusual shot angles and long shot tracking that really hard to pull in a traditional hand-drawn production. The sequence where Dia runs away from Shiro, for example, stands out for all the right seasons. In addition, this CG style uses its shortcomings in computer production (its lightweight movements and somewhat awkward character actings) into an asset, making the Gems feel offbeat and whimsical – the very quality that make them charming and pleasing to watch. The physical comedy, as a result, hits the mark most of the time. But not only the CG takes all the credits here, I have to praise the 2D production as well since the characters have 2D facial features that allow many subtle facial expressions. Orange studio really makes the most out of what they have, capturing the feeling of the manga using the tools of a different medium, and they pull off beautifully.

But exploring this mysterious world and its grand cast is only one of Houseki’s many concerns. This season is all about the growth of our main character, Phos, as they breaking apart, metamorphosing, and changing themselves for better or for worse. They experient some of the sharpest character development I have seen in awhile, both physically and psychologically. The more they losing parts of their body, the more useful and mature they become, the less memory they have. At the end of the day, what’s left of the original Phos? Phos certainly carries their own magnificently with their own charm and witty remarks and a natural voice acting from the talented Tomoyo Kurosawa. Moreover, Houseki underscores the identity and the insecurity of the Gems towards the own roles. Many of the gems, from Phos, Cinnabar, Dia are all struggling with their position. Those vulnerables make them so relatable and real. All other Gems of the cast have their own quirks, but they never sell themselves short. They share great natural chemistry to each other and each of them is memorable, grounded and overall a total joy to watch.

Aside from the colorful yet memorable characters, Houseki benefits from the stunning background arts that not only stand out on its own, but they fit to the narrative seamlessly. Take note how the color of the background changes according to the Gems in spotlight – a beautiful trick that both convey the aura of said character, but also is very appropriate to show the sparkling ability of those Gems. The anime visual has a lot of symmetric shots that from what I know isn’t apparent in the manga, but it’s a welcome upgrade since the techniques reflects very well the theme of Houseki. The soundtrack is another highlight that really elevate many sequences to another level, especially during the fight scenes.

But still, Houseki is much more than beautiful visuals. What I impress the most about Houseki is how they manage the overall tones of the show. Sometimes we have silly, offbeat fluffy comedy, at times it goes full on devastating that showcase a very realistic portrayal of grief; in other minutes Houseki is thrilling with monster chase, crazy Gems and dynamic fights. Strangely, all of these moments above feel really Houseki-y. It’s the show that is full of identity. Rarely I see an anime show that feel so unlike any other shows I watch out there, and manage to be so passionate on what it does, that I can let all my complaint about the show down under the kitchen sink. Unique, strange, beautiful, devastating, ambiguous, and charming all at once, Houseki is an one-of-a-kind series, and I mean it in the best possible way.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Fate/Apocrypha

I was quite excited for Apocrypha and in the so called year of Fate adaptations, it looked to be the crown jewel. Sadly, partly due to lacking adaption and the source lacking in areas, this anime turned out to be not quite the jewel I thought it would be. It’s hard to call this a bad anime, mainly because it lacks consistency it it’s quality. Much like it’s animation, Apocrypha goes from highs and lows, from boring mediocre scenes to scenes that range from mildly entertaining to genuinely great. Unfortunately to get the most out of it you need to read up on the mythological of the characters in it as the series itself does a very poor job of fleshing them out. Fate/Apocrypha details a war between fourteen servants with one extra servant acting as referee. As such it boasts a pretty massive cast of characters which proves to be to its detriment. There isn’t enough screen time to flesh all these characters out and sadly a lot of potential with some genuinely interesting characters gets wasted. There are a number of servants in Apocrypha that deserved better than the story they got, such as Sisgou and Mordred, the people who originally appeared to be our main protagonists. Excellent chemistry, fun master servant relationship and despite Mordred being a saberface she gives enough personality to the design that she makes it her own. And all of this is absolutely wasted when they are pushed to the wayside for their screen time to be robbed by the actual protagonist of the story.

At episode three a homunculus called Sieg is introduced and from his very introduction comes the greatest flaw of Apocrypha. Sieg is a mistake. He is a character with no personality who goes from wondering about his existence to archetypical hero. The plot of Apocrypha bends over backward to give Sieg all the screen time and plot devices he needs to steal the spotlight. he is cardboard, a literally one dimensional plank with a sign that says “Your face here” and comes with his own romance subplot that is given far too much time and effort. Sieg sucks the fun out of any scene he’s in that I honestly believe that the times I was most bored watching this show where when he was on screen. Take note that Sieg is not an annoying character nor does he have a personality that irks the viewer. The problem is that he’s nothing and steals precious screen time from servants most desperately needing development. All the characters of Apocrypha suffer due to his presence and that’s a damn shame as this story does indeed have potential. But it’s clear that while the writer set up a grand epic battle, he didn’t quite think of how he was to close it out. Some servants feel like unnecessary time wasters like Jack and Avicebron. Also while the battle starts as shades of grey with no one technically in the right, it slowly changes into a strictly black and white affair.

The music of the series is fantastic which Masaru Yokoyama succeeds in giving Fate/Apocrypha its own distinctive identity through melody. There are plenty of scenes elevated by his OST alone and I truly think they deserved a better show. Though there are some medolics which play a bit too often. The animation, while shaky and nowhere near Ufotables level, does showcase some impressive fight scenes which are exhilarating enough to push away Apocryphas problems temporarily. Ultimately Fate/Apocrypha is wasted potential that made for a mediocre anime with some patches of entertainment and some small moments of greatness. Not to be recommended as your first Fate anime and most likely more for those that are deep into the series. It is a immensely flawed series that could have been better than the sum of its parts but as it there is at least some meat here to give a Fate fan reason to check it out. Provided you keep your expectations low and do a bit of reading on the servants histories. Though if the Light novel ever gets fully translated, that’s the better alternative.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Kino’s Journey -The Beautiful World-

One of the surprises of the year was to see the return of Kino’s Journey, a very well regarded and more unique anime among those deemed classic. Many, myself included, were very much looking forward to the return of Kino and her talking Motorrad. Though due to some factors this series doesn’t quite live up to the pedigree of its former season. One factor is that it is somewhat a mix of a remake and a sequel as some old stories from the original 2003 series are remade while other new stories make an appearance. Those fond of kIno for it’s morally ambiguous parables will find the new series to be less focused on that and more on lighthearted little tales with Kino and other protagonists. There are of course dark moments but overall this series has more of an optimistic tone when compared to the previous seasons nihilistic outlook. This could be quite a turn off for old fans but there are indeed still good stories here.

However the choice of stories and their structure in the series doesn’t appear to have been thought out well as stories appear to be chosen based more on Kino and other fan favorites getting the spotlight rather than meaningful allegories on life. Quite a pity as there are well over 200 stories and yet the ones featured here appear to be the weaker ones of a long running series. Stories are placed one after another haphazardly without considering the tone or overall structure. For example, two of the remake episodes are A Kind Land and the Country of Adults. A kind land was the previous seasons finale but is placed in the middle of the series and is followed by Kino’s Origin which would have been more beneficial to place before A Kind Land. On top of which this season decides to finish on what amounts to a joke episode which again is a odd decision that seems to misunderstand the very intent of Kino’s story. Nonetheless there are some standout stories such as the Country of Lies and In the clouds.

That said while we have a B-class selection of stories, the presentation at least does them justice. Aside from some rather awkward CGI, this season of Kino is a visual improvement over its predecessors intentional but rather dated look. I didn’t notice anything noteworthy music wise and the opening is just alright. Characters can act a bit over the top and unrealistic, which is different from the original series more monotone delivery but that can result in some more emotional moments hitting harder. As such if a another season was made with better story selection I believe it could very well match the original. Though sadly this may be the last we see of Kino for a very long time. To sum things up, this series doesn’t hold a candle to the original but it’s still a worthwhile watch.

Posted on 1 January 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Girls' Last Tour

Girls’ Last Tour falls within my favorite new trend that emerging the anime medium over the last decade: a dark moe anime. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has almost extinct, our two girls wandering around the world in their kettenkrad looking for food and shelter. If it sounds a bit bleak and minimalism, rest assured that Girls’ Last Tour is at its heart a slice-of-life show about those girls having relaxing time in that world. And did I mention that those girls are real moeblobs? Their faces can go rounder and squishy, but strangely they never feel out of sync with the more realistic industrial setting. The show could be entertaining and soothing enough with just those factors, but it has more tricks under its sleeves. More often than not, Girls’ Last Tour addresses some simple philosophical issues that provides another perspective since the girls have no idea how normal society works. Moreover, while I consider the source material an already solid manga, the anime adaptation enhances this show further with a consistent visual audio production and great attention to details. It’s a beautiful and solid production all around.

I always consider a certain show a great piece of art when they know how to fuse seamlessly between two seemingly contrasting or opposite factors, because then the show can produce some unique chemistry, while at the same time balancing these extremes out – just like how yin and yang work in general. Girls’ Last Tour certainly is amongst this group. Take how the cutey designs of the girls both contrast and complement to the vast wasteland on the verge of totally destroyed. Or how despite the low-key depression of hopelessness that linger to wherever the girls go, the main theme is about how our girls find their little joy and keep moving on. I also want to stress on the small number of the living beings in contrast to the huge remains of weapons and dysfunctional machines. This show is one of the most minimalistic cast I’ve seen in anime medium, with only our two girls Chi and Yuu command the screen most of the time, and the number of people and animals they encounter along the way can be counted in two hands. For other shows it’s a recipe for disaster but in Girls’ Last Tour the girls never stay out their welcome in spite of (and I could argue because of) the vast world of nothingness. The last episode when the stream of many people appear on screen before the destruction, as a result, bring a powerful, overwhelming emotion to the table. This mastery in controlling over the general tone makes this show so relatable, sharp and grounded, despite the show is at its core a moe girls show.

Chi and Yuu make a great pair with their contrasting (again!) personality. Their chemistry is natural and sometimes the show explores the different mindset between Chi-chan who is academic but timid and Yuu who just like eating but quick to adapt. In one sequence for an instance, when arguing about the signs that give them directions to the destination, Chi argues that who would ignore signs that would help them to the destination, in which Yuu responses that it’ll be boring that way. Their difference in the way they approach life complement each other and bring the best out of each of them. Their bond and fondness to each other, in addition, is highlight through the completely comfortable in their close physicality and in the last episode that bond is further developed into satisfying payoff.

The worldbuilding of this series is another highlight, too. We get a hint of how the world come into destruction several times before, but it never at once come into a forefront. The city is displayed as an industrial, vast with multiple layers that the higher the level, the more advance the technology. Ancient people in that world had an advance in technology that now become long lost. Our girls travel that world without a proper knowledge about the remaining technology, and to a greater degree have absolutely no knowledge about how society works and many several topics regarding society like religion, war, home and death. These philosophical questions often pop up randomly, but they all serve the purpose of seeking a bit deeper about our own existence, our purpose in life and even what lifeform is itself. Ultimately, the answer to these questions are just as simple: the best way to die is to keep on living and enjoy little happiness in life.

While comparing the manga to this anime adaptation, I noticed in the manga, the sense of hopelessness is more apparent, thus make it a fair bit darker than the anime version. That’s not a jab against the anime at all, as I consider the production of Girls’ Last Tour a nearly flawless work. The shots are greatly composed, they know when to use natural sounds and when to let the score kicks in. The background art is always appropriate and striking. The direction, the editing make the show as natural as possible, and believe me it’s a goddamn hard job to pull. Girls’ Last Tour is just down right cinematic most of its time. Moreover, the voice acting work for the two girls are exceptional. Bravo White Fox for this wonderful adaptation where I can feel their love and their passion run right through every minute of the run.

While Girls’ Last Tour might provide no definitive ending to the girls’ last tour and sometimes might feel like nothing is really at stakes, I am myself surprise the whole trip never feel boring or repetitive, and Chi and Yuu’s chemistry is strong enough to carry the show. Depressing and comforting at the same time, Girls’ Last Tour is a rare show that produce its unique charms and distinctive tones, while always maintain its feet firmly on the ground. It’s the best of its slice of life dark moe genre and I certainly miss those girls and their kettenrad.

Posted on 29 December 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Shoukoku no Altair

It would not be an exaggeration to say that my favorite type of anime is the political-military epic. This comes partly out of my profession, I study war and politics, but also my hobby, as military and political history is something I enjoy. When it comes to anime there is a clear sub-category that can be called political-military epics that covers elements of politics and war. These shows are characterized by some commonalities. First of all direction wise, is the large cast. When your characters are introduced with subscripts for titles, you know you are in political-military epic territory. Second, there is narrator who plays a crucial role in moving the story along.

Story wise the shows can be place into a continuum anchored by the great Chinese epics. On the one side you have those stories which are closer to the thematic of the Chinese “Journey to the West”. Political and Military events provide a backdrop, but the stories essentially focus on the story of a hero within the world. On the other side are stories in which the politics and the military events are the protagonist. There is no real protagonist per se, but instead central characters through which we see the events unfurl. The literary example of this in Chinese cultures is “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. Stories that go further and relegate characters to a truly secondary role cross into thematic territory that is more in synch with the ancient Greek history, “The Peloponnesian War”. Anime wise, a recent example of the first type was “Akatsuki no Yona”. Stories in the theme of the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, including directly based on it abound in anime, with “Shouten Kouro” being the most recent example in my mind. Finally, “Legend of Galactic Heroes” stands the closest to the “Peloponnesian War”, though it is still anchored around two protagonists.

Due the central role of the politics and military events in these stories, characters are either decision makers, or people who are privy to decisions. This is what differentiates from me the political-military epic, from what I would call only military anime (in which many times the characters are not privy to decisions-for example a lot of the Gundam franchise). Thus are protagonists are ministers, princes, kings, and generals, or the people who put into effect the decisions of such personages.

The two shows I will review here both wish to tell an epic story of politics and war. The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki) is the creation of the author behind Legend of Galactic Heroes, Yoshiki Tanaka. Thus we have a author who has experience in telling such epic tales. The animated version I am looking at is the recent one directed by Noriyuki Abe, based on the manga interpretation by Hiromu Arakawa, of Full Metal Alchemist fame. This is quite the pedigree of creators. There was an older anime based on Tanaka’s work, which I personally liked a lot, but which did not cover much of story (which is in progress). So I was looking forward to this new interpretation. The other show is based on a manga by Kotono Kato, a historian by trade, and is their first work of note. The anime was directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi who has some solid work behind them, but nothing exceptional per se. SuperWooper reviewed the first 12 episodes, but I decided that show deserves a full review, and he kindly let me take care of it.

Before going into the particulars let me summarize my review. Both shows suffered from a number of issues that denied them the character great, let alone exceptional. But ultimately I felt that Altair promises a lot more, and was able to craft the more interesting story. This was surprising, and to be frank after watching Arslan Senki I wondered if it really was written by the same person who wrote Legend of Galactic Heroes. It is not that it is per se a bad story, but quite underwhelming especially in the crucial area of characters. So let us go a bit more into the reasons for my conclusion.

Story

Ultimately a good political-military epic tells a good story. It posits a conflict that is both expansive and epic, but something that is beyond just a mere territorial spat. In LOGH Tanaka weaved into the story a whole semester worth of political science material ranging from questions about the trajectory of history, the meaning of war, to the relative merits of democracy and enlightened autocracy. I literally use parts of it in my lectures. Altair as a show is much closer to LOGH and the “Peloponnesian War” or the “Record of Three Kingdoms” than Arslan is. The word is more expansive, with many more powers, the politics are thus richer. Both shows try to invoke uniqueness by using as the basis of their world historical cultures that are not the usual staple of anime (or even western media). In Altair our protagonists are part of an idealized Ottoman Empire, active in a world with state that are inspired by ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and with the antagonist being a much more aggressive version for the Holy Roman Empire. In Arslan, the titular character is a prince of Pars, a setting inspired by Sassanid Persia, facing a fanatical stand-in for European Crusaders, and surrounded by states inspired by Turkish and Hunnish tribes, and Indian medieval princes.

While both settings work to enrich their regions, I ultimately felt that Altair did a better job of showcasing its world, compared to Arslan. And this is despite its pacing issues it has (more on this later). To put it simply, I found the city -tates, empires and kingdoms of Altair much more intriguing, than those of Arslan. A lot of this might be though that Arslan in its first arc is more like a “Journey to the West” story, focusing on the travels of the protagonist and his coterie of characters. Now, Altair also does this. But here is the difference. In Altair the story of individual travel is well-meshed to the story of the politics. In Arslan it is not. Turghil Pasha in his travels not only to get companions, he crucially meets decision makers and comes to understand, and show us, the politics of his world. In Arslan, Arslan meets companions, and he learns about the world, but he learns by being told about it by said companions, rather than by experiencing it. This was crucial difference.

I also felt that despite the pacing issues of Altair, the political decisions there made sense. That was not always the case with Arslan.

The different approach to the story also meant that Altair could get way with weak characters, while in Arslan they doomed it. In Altair, you could forgive some of the characters because the characters were always enriched by the environment. The cultures of Rumeliana (the Europe of Altair) were all so unique and interesting, that they enriched characters who stood as their proxies. In Arslan that was not the case. In general I felt the story of Altair to be richer, and more intriguing, than that of Arslan. While both had an element of a coming to age story, I felt that Altair was more able to mesh it to the political and military situation. And this helped the characters. Speaking of characters,

Characters

It is unavoidable that with their massive casts, political-military anime while have a slew of underdeveloped characters. As long as those characters are given some singular trait that makes them interesting, and as long as the protagonists are fleshed out, this is not an issue. As long as characters are not caricatures, they can be forgiven a bit of thinness. This is why story and environment play such an important role. This of course cannot be forgiven with the protagonists. A good political-military anime will have multiple protagonists, shared by the two main warring factions, and even more. They will be decision makers, or close allies of decision makers. They will be essentially our eyes and ears into why things happen, and provide some investment in the politics by having their fate and beings tied to it. The problems start when the central characters are either uninteresting, or relegated to a secondary role by the other protagonists. Altair succeeds in avoiding this, while Arslan fails.

Now both Mahmud Turghil Pasha and Prince Arslan share some character traits. They are both seen as politically naïve by others, and they are both struggling to find their place in a complex world. The starting arcs of both anime are focused on their journey to maturity and wisdom. The problem is that while we can see and appreciate Turghil Pasha’s growth, Arslan’s is not as easy to learn. This is not because he does not grow. But his growth is tethered and ultimately smothered by his companions. Too much of Arslan is about Arslan asking his chief strategist Narsus (a bad character inspired for Zhuge Liang from “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”) about what to do. There is a lot of that. As a result, Arslan’s growth is always feeling as pedestrian, predicted, boring. Turghil Pasha is never completely eclipsed like that. His growth is not always predictable, and we always see it in action.

It does not help that by a large the secondary cast in Arslan is boring. Of his companions that only two I found interesting are the warrior Daryun, who is not a rich character, but he is a well done example of the warrior template, and the fun and adventurous bard Gieve. The others did not stand out. This expands to the secondary characters on the side of the heroes. Most are bland, and boring. In Altair, despite the fact that many of the secondary characters are just as “thin”, I did not find them boring. Whether Halil Pasha, Suleiman Pasha, or Kiros and Abriga, they never seemed to hold the show down. The mayors, princes, kings that populate Rumeliana are not anymore developed than the characters in Arslan, but the combination of smart focusing on a specific trait, and their close connection to their cultures makes them interesting.

The issue becomes worse for Arslan when it comes to the question of antagonist. Now it is true that neither show comes close to the almost excellent balance of characters on both sides that LOGH had. But Altair comes closer. To put it simply ad brutally, the enemy in Arslan is boring. You have the always scowling, yelling, always angry Prince Hermes. You have the scheming, scowling, perpetually frustrated Guiscard. You have the caricature coward, scowling Bodin. Indeed there is a lot of scowling and furrowing of brows, and yelling going on. And that that is it. None of these people are remotely interesting. What drives them is boring, and thus their schemes are boring. No great questions can be put forward by such characters, and thus the battle really is more like a black and white fight, despite the continuous talk by characters that this is not the case (for the sake of all that is holy, one of the secondary antagonists chose the enemy side simply because he felt it would not be fair if there is no one on the side of the guy with he himself does not consider ready to be a king!). Hell, the most interesting opponent of Arslan is his frenemy Rajendra, who is pretty much an interesting character because he has a level head on his shoulders. The more interesting questions in Arslan are always about Arslan’s plans for the future of Pars, and that is pretty much an intra-ally discussion.

On a first glance Altair could also be considered weak on the enemy front. If there is one criminal failure for Altair, is that it never invests as much as it should in the enigmatic figure of Prime Minister Louis (a characterized for Machiavelli and Richelieu). This is partly because for a long part of the anime the “antagonist” is the equally interesting Zaganos Pasha. But the show in its second course presents us with an interesting array of Imperial opponents that give us an insight into what drives the Balt-Rhein empire forward. Their motives are much better than those of Arslan’s foes, and between Turghil, Zaganos, and Louis some major questions are put forward about the nature of hegemony, pacifism, and practical politics. The contrast between the perpetually yelling Hermes and Guiscard, and the calm Zaganos and Louis (whose voice actor is great) is in a way the encapsulation of the difference between the two shows.

Direction

Both shows suffer from direction issues. In a way they suffer for exactly opposite reasons. Altair suffers from an insane pacing, which leaves one bewildered about why and how things happen. Characters enter and leave before we have a chance to understand them or their place in the story. Essentially the fact that Altair is an advertisement for the manga can be seen in the terrible pacing, which tries to cram as much material as possible into the 24 episodes. . Arslan on the other hand, has pacing that is too slow, which means we get too much Narsus, being Mr.Perfect (I dislike Narsus, don’t I?), or Hermes scowling (GGRRR GRRRR). The pacing issues in Altair ruin a bit the enjoyment of unraveling the politics behind the scenes. But at least the politics unravels. In Arslan , we go through 36 episodes to just get back were we started, Arslan and companions on a trip.

Speaking of direction, the narrator, which is a character in these shows, was a bit more useful in Altair than that in Arslan. Also despite it pacing issues, I felt Altair was able to create some set-pieces that were quite nice, more often than Arslan. That said there was only so much the direction could do with the animation the shows got.

Animation

Well to put it simply animation in both cases was not something to write home about. While there were some well animated scenes (the fight between Turghil Pasha and Rod Orm, the fights between Hermes and Daryum), in general the animation was lackluster. Massive battles are the bread and butter of these shows and neither did a good job at it. Arslan opted for using CGI graphics, and the battles ended up having a rather Total War Rome feel to them (only TWR had more model variation). Altair, perhaps wisely, eschewed that for mostly still frames and traditional animation. They both get their story across, but there is none of that wow I got from the massive battles of LOGH.

Art

While I like Arakawa’s art I felt it plain compared to that of Altair. In general the world of Altair was more colorful and varied than that of Arslan. The Turkish, and Italian Renaissance basis of the clothes showed in Altair. There were some bad choices (the naval uniforms are too much One Piece like for my taste, and the uniform of the officers of the Balt-Rhein empire too LOGH Empire style) but in general they nailed the look. In Arslan the looks are servisable, but that is about it. One of the other blog commentators said that there was something whimsical in the art of Altair, and while initially I did not like it, it came to grow on me. I believe that if Altair had the animation budget of Arslan it would had been a much more beautiful show.

Music

The Opening and Endings of Arslan and Altair were in general generic and boring. I found the second Opening of Altair the most interesting, partly due to the good direction. When it came to soundtrack, Arslan had the better one, with the track Tenchi Rai Sanka standing out and being well used in the series for memorable scenes (Sher Senani! Sher Senani!). Altair was not graced with a soundtrack that was as good. It does its job, but that is it.

Final “Feel”

Ultimately I felt that the story that Altair tried to tell was a more epic and nuanced story, in a richer world. I felt that the political principles at stake were more expansive and interesting. It is not that Arslan does not have a good question at its center (the nature of kingship). It is more that the story failed to work with it well (since Narsus, has all the answers!). To be fair, nor does Altair really do a good job fully exploring its question. Indeed it more teases it. Perhaps the biggest thing holding Altair back, is that it is an anime conceived as a advertisement for the manga, with all associated issues in pacing, characterization etc. And to be frank it does that job well. Despite my initial dislike of the manga art, I came to be interested in it. Arslan’s issue is much more fundamental. It does not know what it wants to be. Is it a story of development like “Journey to the West”, or a war and political epic like “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. This is never clear, and to be frank from some summaries I have read of the books not animated, it gets worse, with fantasy elements invading with increasing vehemence.

Thus both shows fail to reach their potential. And perhaps I ask for too much. I mean LOGH had over 150 episodes to develop a sweeping and epic tale. That would be a fair rejoinder. But not in a world with Tanya Senki (Tale of Tanya the Evil). Tanya Senki is also a political-military epic. And despite its short course of 12 episodes, tight direction gave us tale that was rich enough. Tanya proves that you can tell a good political-military epic in 12 episodes. And thus the inability of both shows to do better in double the episode length is disappointing. With that said though, I believe Altair has the promise to tell a tale worthy of LOGH down the way. Arslan less likely.

Final Scores
Characters: Altair Record of Battles: 80/100; Heroic Legend of Arslan:70/100
Plot: Altair Record of Battles:80/100; Heroic Legend of Arslan: 70/100
Art: Altair Record of Battles: 70/100 ;Heroic Legend of Arslan: 70/100
Sound-Music: Altair Record of Battles: 70/100 /Heroic Legend of Arslan: 75/100
Final:
Altair Record of Battles: 75/100
Heroic Legend of Arslan: 70/100

Posted on 28 December 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

“How many decades have passed since our drinking contest?”
“It hasn’t been that long. It was only a few hours ago, this very night!”
That gap in time perceiving plays a significant role in Night is Short. For you see, it all depends on how our perception of the surroundings and time itself can affect our lives. In Night is Short, time runs much slower for those who enjoy life and speed itself up for those who afraid to live. Come our main protagonist, a “black-haired maiden”, an unnamed red-dress girl who keeps walking on, enjoys the night and let life lead her way. She runs through a seemingly endless night and encounters many absurd events: the wedding, the drinking contest, the bookfair, the guerrilla stage theatre and the massive cold outbreak and many random plot threads crammed in together. As a narrative line, like its protagonist, Night is Short’s never content to stay in one place for too long. It’s decided messy, full of random events with colorful, exxergarate cast and very loose animation. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to consider Night is Short as a spiritual concessor of The Tatami Galaxy, so those who already love the 2010 series will have a lot to enjoy here.

One factor you should expect, and I rather consider this as the film’s most detriment factor, is that it share the same spirits with the Tatami Galaxy. Written by the same author Tomihiko Morimi (which I happened a big fan of), and the distinctive visionary of Masaaki Yuasa (which arguably the best working anime director right now), Night is Short shares the same visual style, happens in the same universe, has the same simple character designs and even uses many of the show’s previous casts. The familiar in the look, the settings and the tone make it hard not to consider them as a companion piece, or a little brother of The Tatami Galaxy. Thankfully, Night is Short does just about enough to stand out on its own. Even without the knowledge of Morimi’s previous novels (the Tatami Galaxy, the Eccentric Family), you will able to enjoy the ride since those references never distract the flow of this hectic adventure.

As you can probably guess from the works of Morimi, this magical-realism Kyoto settings never fails to bring wonders and enjoyment. Every single setting, from the interior night bar, to the night book fair, to the river at night, have a warm, distinct feel to it that make it brimming with so much life. The magical-realism feel not only limited to the remarkable settings, however, but to the whimsy, over the top characters with exaggerated movements and the randomness, directioness of all the events crammed in together. If I have a word for it, it would be “randomness in a structured way”. Interior places that seem much bigger than their external appearances, time that is warped to be much longer than it is supposed to be. Characters who self-proclaimed as the god of whatever childish thing they can think of. Various mysterious folktales about their own cultural products. Night is Short is proud and obsessed of its own magical world, and be pretty happy to flood us with those details like a mother can’t stop praising about her child.

The animation of Night is Short, as pretty much expected from the legendary Yuasa, is distinctive and expressive. His loose animation style allows characters to be very lively with smooth animation to boost. While some might argue his style can be too much to take in, and it is certainly the case here, it fits the narrative well with a clear direction (I would argue EVERY decision he made has its merits), couple with nice shot-compositions, overwhelming use of color, and breathtaking cinematography make Night is Short a top-notch, albeit a bit for acquainted taste, production of the year. Most of the movie’s charm is hidden in visual language, as Yuasa plays around, experiments visual metaphors and symbolism in large amount of scenes. One certain visual thread that caught me completely off guard, for example, is the stage musical act. Great music aside, the various plays are displayed with a strong and keen direction that furthers blown me away on how confident Yuasa approached those scenes.

The characters, in addition, make up the most out of their screen time and they are certainly the biggest strength of Night is Short. We have 10 plus characters all running around at all times, but each of them is memorable and full-of-live, and the way they keep bumping into each other make a nice chemistry across the board. Most of them are absurd and weird, but they feel like they live in the picture, have their own hearts and run wild free all for themselves and many of them are surprisingly deeper than they initially appeared at first. But by spending too much time to flesh out such a large cast, the main protagonists, namely the Black-haired maiden and the unnamed male lead have little time to develop as much as they could. I can totally get behind the maiden since she’s the spirit of the film, but the same can’t be said to the male lead as I don’t think he deserve the attention Night is Short clearly intent him to be.

In fact, like Tatami Galaxy, viewers can find themselves overwhelming most of the time. Overwhelming by the rapid-fire dialogues, overwhelming by the hectic random adventures, overwhelming by crazy animation that keep pushing the boundary, overwhelming by excessive characters that too weird and absurd to sometimes take them seriously. But all that overwhelming feeling is the point of Night is Short. The movie is an examination of pulling out the maximum of our lives, in the spirit of our black hair maiden. The seemingly random events, the coincidental meetings with new people all point to the theme that all these things might be tied by the famous red string of fate.

All in all, Night is Short is an extraordinary mess of an experience. It’s a movie that I know I will enjoy multiple times because I love absolutely everything about it: its world, its characters, its tones, its central messages. Think of the movie as a companion piece to Tatami Galaxy (instead of comparing them together). Every single second is filled with passion and attention to details, as a result it has undeniable charms and unique imagination. Night is Short is ultimately a celebration of life, living life to the fullest. Let the night continues on forever, girl.

Posted on 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 27 December 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Inuyashiki

Do you know what the average age of an anime protagonist is? Neither do I, but I’d wager its in the upper teens. For obvious reasons, most anime focus on high school and have high school aged protagonists with similarly aged problems. Its not often that we get a good older main character, who has to deal with more adult issues such as MonsterGreat Teacher Onizuka and Rakugo. Well, this season we can add another to this list. Even with its faults, Inuyashiki‘s characters remain strong and worth watching just for them.

Lets jump in!

To start, a quick synopsis. Inuyashiki focuses on well, Inuyashiki, a middle aged salaryman who feels useless and unloved by his family. One night, he heads to the park where he and a young man named Hiro Shishigami end up in an extra terrestrial hit and run. To cover their tracks the aliens rebuild them as cyborgs! These new bodies destroy their sense of humanity, and in the ensuing weeks the two must rediscover what it means to be human! Watch as their ideals clash and Japan pays the price! Onto the review!
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CHANGE USERNAME
Niel
V Salty
SuperMario
Houseki no Kuni won only 1 for Best CGI
SuperMario
Most surprise winner was Mahoutsukai for Best Drama against Rakugo, 3-gatsu, Made in Abyss
SuperMario
@Lenlo: My Hero Academia 2 took home the most awards (as far as I remember: Best Boy, Best Girl, Best Hero, Best Villain, Best Action, Best OP) but Made in Abyss won AOTY (along with Best Score)
niello
Also, is there anyway I can convince people here to pick up Miira no Kaikata again?
niello
Looks like I can use this site on my laptop again.
Lenlo
Oh snap forgot to watch that. Who won what? Their site isnt updated yet
SuperMario
And I thought My Hero Academia had the main award in the bag. Congrats to Made in Abyss
SuperMario
Anyone here watching Crunchyroll Awards?
SuperMario
@Kaiser: The newest episode of Violet Evergarden had no title. I just don't see any purpose of that to be honest
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Sunny was a solid slice of life series by Matsumoto.
Anonymous1839346
@Anon Weak villains, over-dramatized, protagonists suffer random psychotic breakdowns and all of the elements of the movie do not come thematically together like the creators probably thought they did. Of course, I may just be stupid. For me Ping Pong was waaay better
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Not everyone is going to like the style that film is done in and apparently some think it compresses its source material poorly, but I don't really mind.
Anonymous1838586
can anyone state some of the problems they have for tekkon kinkreet. If they have watched it
Kaiser-Eoghan
Watching Kondou in every episode of after the rain, makes it hit home that in 10 or so years I'll be 40 =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
As far as friendships between men and women are concerned, I do believe in it, although especially when I was a teenager I was always worried about things turning into something more.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*kondou's
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I think Chihiro might be knfou's wife.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Slight error on the violet evergarden review, episode title isn't showing up at the top.
Anonymous1838382
Media/art have the power to depict the rare and unusual. It is completely normal for the rare to be common in art. I understand what you mean Amagi, but don't hold it (purely) against the consumers. It's the nature of media itself and in that regard, it is a good thing.
Anonymous1838379
Media/art have the power to depict the rare and unusual. It is completely normal for the rare to be common in art. I understand what you mean Amagi, but don't hold it (purely) against the consumers. It's the nature of media itself and in that regard, it is a good thing.
Amagi
What I acutally find worse are series that make that canon and it happens all the time (not only in anime). Usually female/male though. I have nothing against romance but I hate how proper friendships between men and women can't exist in cartoons/anime. It's so common in real life but media acts if it was an alien concept to them. Maybe because of the target audience I don't know.
Amagi
I think these pairing of friends aren't just the fault of crazy fans, it's because anime often has a problem depticting friendships. Almost all friendships (at least those among girls) are fetishized to no end in order to either add ecchi or cute ambivalent scenes, and people get used to that. There are good examples of friendships, Rakugo is one, a current one would be Sora Yori, but it's rare.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Interesting that it's being updated to modern America though, I imagine the crime figures have changed alot though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But I don't like sexualize Banana fishe's protag given how theres line in the manga later on that and I somewhat paraphrase where he speaks of the villain "I can't even remember the number of times Dino Golzine raped me"
Kaiser-Eoghan
Coincidentially as we're on this topic, I just watched the pv for that josei action series Banana fish coming out in July and from skimming the manga years ago , people will be insinuating a relationship between the two leads when its left ambiguous, even though the protaganist has homosexual leanings.
Anonymous1837358
Anonymous1836963 - Well according to some bl tropes, women are built into those stories to block the pairing advances. There's also the one off character that isn't romantically inclined but popular like Floppy in MHA or Bulma in Dragon Ball. I do think it's bad when like in Kingdom Hearts, Sora cries for Riku and was just ok with reuniting with Kairi.
Anonymous1837334
@AK Me again. Watch the epilogue in the last ep of Korra S3!
Anyway, basically we agree, I simply say that with Korra, it's explainable and non-invasive. Like, you'll always have romance shoehorned into mainstream series and Asami >>>>> Mako.
Lenlo
What, women cant be gay?
AidanAK47
@Anon, that's not true. They can still get beat up in order to inspire the boys to fight harder.
Anonymous1836963
It's why Sasuke/Naruto never happened. They had to keep Sakura relevant.
Anonymous1836963
If everyone in Anime were gay, there would be absolutely no use for women in any shonen plot. Sad but true.
Lenlo
The push to make Rakugo into a gay relationship has always annoyed me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Feck, I re-read it, shows how shit my memory is.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, No I didn't. I pretty much ruled it out it as early as episode three. I stated that people thought it and mentioned that it could lead to some interesting story developments. But I made it clear I didn't like the idea and felt it cheapened their bond.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lies it was hulk and iron man not hulk and black window....I mean jesus come oooon like =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
Some crack pairings can be extremely silly.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: And I said it after remembering ages ago you said the same about guts and griffith and how people cheapened that relationship.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I also stated that yesterday.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: In fairness initially some of us, yourself included thought he might of been at first before it was clear he wasn't gay.
AidanAK47
Truth be told, it pisses me off. It takes a bond of much deeper meaning and reduces it down to something far more simplistic and primal. Can't be that these two hold a trust for one another that's beyond simple biology. Nope, THEY WANNA BONE.
AidanAK47
But then again, the internet often over interprets friendship as sexual attraction. During Rakugo's airing I see people absolutely convinced that Yakumo was gay. Evidence? One bath scene apparently from his POV which made it seem like he was checking out Sukeroku and the fact that the author made a lot of BL. Other than that, nothing.
AidanAK47
Then again, romance in this series was always the worst written part. So many spontaneous relationships.
AidanAK47
Alright maybe you can make the arguement that later down the line while traveling they gained romantic feelings for each other. I can somewhat buy that. But there, in the last few minutes of the series? Hell no.
AidanAK47
To me it's like the Hulk and Black Widow romance. They had literally no real interaction and yet the internet somehow decided they were a couple. Then they tried to crowbar into the second avengers movie and it was just as awkward and out of place as you would expect.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Nah I don't see it. The two did really have that much interaction. Sure they got closer as seasons went on but never to a romantic level. At best it was about decent friends. Friendship I understand but that does not lead to romance. Both Korra and Asami had heterosexual relationships and no evidence shows them being bi or getting interested in swinging for the other fence.
Anonymous1836097
Yes, it was pandering, but it can be explained and it does make sense. I could complain about many things (like the random pairings), but Asami-Korra is definitely not among them.

PS: Korra was very feministic show, I wonder what's all that about.
Anonymous1836097
Asami was strangely always getting the short end of the stick (no power, noone to lean on... and it was aggravating to see no character to care). They were both betrayed enough times to get scarred and they both realized that (the one) constant around them is their friendship.
Anonymous1836097
@AK I dont consider Legend of Korra a well written show, but it does some things pretty well. Asami-Korra pairing certainly did not come out of nowhere (e.g. S3 last ep) and it makes sense as well.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Right in the KOKORO =O
Kaiser-Eoghan
**larger half of
Kaiser-Eoghan
*episode
Kaiser-Eoghan
For the better half of this weeks after the rain episodes, I was sitting around just watching it do its thing, the second half of the episode particularly near the end was the show at one of of its stronger visual moments and certainly going for the most effecting emotional angle its put out thus far in a way that finally caught me.
AidanAK47
I don't consider Makishima a great villain but one thing I found fantastic was him getting taken off guard by a sudden attack. Loads of anime criminal masterminds somehow plan for every single little detail no matter how unlikely. But this was one case that shows you could plan for ten years and nothing would prepare you for getting suddenly bashed over the head with a motorcycle helmet.
Lenlo
Makishima is a fantastic villain
Anonymous1835766
Kaiser-Eoghan - I think the closest might be Makishima Shogo in Psycho Pass. Just in the opposite sense, showing how flawed an absolutistic system is. Also a scene from that anime, that subverts the notion of how people are shocked by violence.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Moreso than the girls death obsession, I thought the stuff with the mother in the first chapter of yakedo has the potential to go in a more messed up way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But he fails miserably and no one learns from his crimes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Why can't there be a BENEVOLENT killer character that commits horrible acts solely to shock people and show how horrifying those acts are, out of the delusion that it will inspire a reflection and change in people to NOT, to NEVER do those things.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*higher
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe an abused character is a servant in a historical setting with a hierarchy, trapped in societal rules and defeats the obsession with the attacker and raises up against the class system/character of hire social standing that abused them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Perhaps the cannibal killer character in the story has abandonment, severe paranoia and lonliness issues and sees his crimes as taking people inside him so they'll never leave him.
Kaiser-Eoghan
of psychological depth instead?
Kaiser-Eoghan
For the willingness to throw messed up stuff into stories, I wouldn't mind seeing an analysis thrown in, doing a story about a cannibal character? How about instead of just a gore fest, get inside is head and ask, why does he do this? I hate Ntr and its used as a throwaway turn-on involving rape eroticism, but is there any any way that a story involving that could be framed with some sense
Kaiser-Eoghan
Back on to stuff like goblin slayer, they can take out the rape scenes I wouldn't miss them, although I find them less uncomfortable, BECAUSE they are shown as how wrong rape is, instead of say a doujin playing it up for titilation .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Despite all the talking up of tsunderes, I actually love kuuderes, in the end probably the biggest reason is for how flat chested they are.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Slapstick violence always plays second to dry, dark, screwball or surreal humour.
Bokusen
Also, on tsunderes, me too. I can't stand people using physical violence on someone unless it's in self-defense, or a Fate-type scenario where they all know everyone is trying to kill everyone else. Random physical violence played up as comedy is the worst.
Bokusen
@Kaiser Ah, so it was referring to bondage. I was skimming through posts and must've missed that. Bondage still creeps me out a bit, but if it's a fetish thing I can at least understand the whole exaggerated gender roles thing.
AidanAK47
In regards to Tsunderes, yep that was a bad choice of words there Kaiser. But over time I have come to find Tsunderes more agavating. Tsunderes like Rin are fine but those that beat the crap out of the guy they like and are expected to be forgiven cause they get embarrassed can go straight to hell.
AidanAK47
Also who cares who Korra ends up with? She a goddamn horrible character. I hated her so much.
AidanAK47
Korra was a show that had love realistionships come out of nowhere(And not well written in general) but that one really was just pandering to the Korra/Asami shippers. Not sure where the hell that ship came from to begin with.
Lenlo
I agree Aidan, the love at the end of Korra came out of Left field really
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Bokusen: It was inappropriate and I shouldn't have said it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Heck one of the reasons I prefer seeing another character with another character or a character simply on their own in a fetish situation is because I can distance myself from it and not feel like I'm touching anything/one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If anything I meant role reversal.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Bokusen: I apologize, reading it back it sounds terrible, I was actually referring to bondage where the tsundere pretends to hate it initially but consents .
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Bokusen: I should state clearly that that is merely a fantasy. The anger on both sides makes it easier because even if things became more physical or intimate it would feel more distant if the talking part was she and myself saying how much we hated it , despite actualily liking it.
Bokusen
"The thing is I utterly hate the personalities of tsundere characters in bitch/dom mode, sends me into a fervor to put them in their place." OK, reading that just creeped me out.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, well you like screwed up stuff so no surprise.
Try Yakedo Shoujo. Get the feeling you will like that one quite a bit.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Legend of Korra? There was no yuri in that one. No evidence whatsoever. They just had Korra and Asami walk into some light and then announced them gay over twitter. Honesty I didn't see it in the show itself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Also was it you that recommended happy sugar life to me? That was a pretty good psychological horror manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Going back several messages, I kind of liked goblin slayer oddly.
Anonymous1832169
Kaiser-Eoghan - Read Sakuranbo Syndrome.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: At the same time I really think more series like after the rain need to come out, showing more sensitive approaches.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nudity/sex just isn't used functionally well enough or dramatically as it should. Come on, give us a story about passionette characters, sensual/erotic rather than only porn. Or do a scums wish where miserable people are doing it because saaaaad.
Kaiser-Eoghan
kuuchuu is really one of those things I need to re-watch, I became so much more open to weirder shows in the past number of years than I would have been ages ago.
Anonymous1832169
I think my excuse in hentai, is that despair, and subjugation adds drama to a very simple thing. Though Dawn of the Silver Dragon may be the peak of objectification.
Anonymous1832214
Sure, np, though I must be off. Again, nice to chat casually. Been off forums for a while. Bye.
PS: thank you gift for anyone not familiar https://myanimelist.net/anime/6774/Kuuchuu_Buranko?q=kuuchuu
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lets talk about the spring 2018 anime season chart: http://anichart.net/spring-2018
Kaiser-Eoghan
Mods, I'm sorry for hostaging/dominating the chat like this I'll change subject.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I do think official/canon pairings of characters make more sense definitely, non-canon ones can kind of cheapen characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I really really want to say though, I totally am not okay with rape in hentai though and I don't like 50 shades of grey.
Kaiser-Eoghan
To get off this subject, funny little random memory here of reading manga in public, back when I was still into fate, some street person sat down next to me and saw a picture of berserk and said "Oh, he's quite ripped isn't he"
Anonymous1832214
@Anon could be
@Kaiser Srsly youd hate Young's Aflame Inferno - narcissistic manipulative elite MC guy plays a sub to a playful manipulative OP demon woman. I love that so much..!
Kaiser-Eoghan
The old artists valued some interesting takes on beauty too, all of those middle aged larger bodies.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Someone has read this and gone off and done an Akira x Satan devilman doujin haven't they?
Kaiser-Eoghan
On the beauty and the beast thing, I wonder if characters like Elias from Mahouyome will become more popular. Monsterboys might end up catching on.
Anonymous1832169
Anonymous1832214 - I think so, I mean we paint angels following that idea.
Anonymous1832214
Thx for the talk guys (and girls). Btw. I'm the guy with weird nicks, Evaluation, Strength, Victim, etc in case anyone's wondering.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think regarding role switching and whether I prefer being dom or sub is definately based on which gender I'm playing, this goes back to the cliches of girl=the submissive character man=is the non-submissive.
Anonymous1832214
There's something about androgynous features, is there?
Kaiser-Eoghan
accept of course for the sensei, who looks like one-punchman.
Anonymous1832214
Seems consistent with your preferences towards domination. Open your heart more and feel the love. They cant help themselves. They need you to get it out. Why not play the mature person, not play the game and accept their flawed selves?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Specifically due the ambiguity.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Houseki's character designs and art is fascinating.
Anonymous1832169
I like the idea of women pretending to be men and men pretending to be women. Not necessarily transgender, just in the sense of playing the role like Hercules and Diomedes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hating them makes it easier/better aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The thing is I utterly hate the personalities of tsundere characters in bitch/dom mode, sends me into a fervor to put them in their place
Anonymous1832214
I wouldnt mind being a dominated by a (good-hearted) Pandora. So I guess I have no idea how you can even say that...
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lol now we're getting into liking certsin things because their so non-pc =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
The idea of me taking on a female role and being dominated by a woman is bizzare to me , taking on a female role and being dominated by a man, yes.
Anonymous1832214
Yeah got it. Like Senjougahara? Lol.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But she still holds on to the delusion that she's in control.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Wait, to be more specific, I was saying I liked the idea of making a tsundere girl submit, with the tsundere becoming the sub.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Youngs manga work better than say, something like ikkitosen/highschool dxd/seikon no qwaser/highschool of the dead because they go all out with the exploitation .
Anonymous1832169
I do see a correlation between the feminine guys in yaoi and the token girls in otome. I swear I don't get why otome and other young girl series, like to play the bad boy and misogynistic treatment of women. I think they we might have lost the point in Beauty and the Beast.
Anonymous1832214
Kaiser... do you know Im Dal Young's manga? Freezing, Unbalance x Unbalance, etc. He often puts the women in the dominant role. He's gotta have a thing for it. I love that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think going back to the complaints of yuri on ice not having enough bite to it, its the same as the fanservice in josei manga with the ambiguous bromances.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm a really pretentious guy, I love going into the psychology of it all.
Anonymous1832169
@Kaiser-Eoghan - As one teacher told me, the most memorable characters are the contradictory ones.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The western side often feels more tokenistic at times.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: The feminine male character exists as a safe zone for the female reader.
Kaiser-Eoghan
No wonder I enjoyed haru deiteita so much, it did the reversal thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yet people don't understand this when I say I find tsunderes attractive, what could be more appealing to me than a tsundere ending up losing the dominant role and becoming submissive?
Anonymous1832169
@Kaiser-Eoghan - I think I like that dichotomy, because since manga is already androgynous one does accept it more. Especially since of anime thread the line of making their male characters submissive. Also in a more design sense it might be because there's a power dynamic at play. That's why there's also harassment.
Anonymous1832214
I also agree that yuri is more established and accepted. Particularly in western media, which are starting to catch up? (lesbians everywhere...) Legend of Korra anyone?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: The weirdest thing is from my own perspective, when I play the female role in the relationship I understand taking on a more submissive role, yet in a male role, with a women I find being in a non-dominent role impossible.
Anonymous1832214
@Kaiser I'm not going to defend KnM, valid points. Again, it's done enough. And - I have a thing for tragic/platonic love so KnM clicked...
Anonymous1832169
Yuri can be cold, harsh and seduction is usually a weapon. Though a tiring trope is that most stories treat the couple as kind of sister type of affection. Or so I feel.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In terms of the pairings, my headcanon doesn't understand the petite-man thing in male to male relationships relationships/pairings , yet petit women I am obsessed with.
Anonymous1832169
Kaiser-Eoghan - I do agree. I suppose for me or at least when I did start watching it, it felt more risque, since at least in media lesbians seem more accepted than gay or flamboyant men. So I think the draw for me might be emasculation, because of the uke and seme dynamic. It is said the reason for that is to project their female audiences in more of a dominant role or something like that.
SuperMario
Hmm, I watched few episodes of Sekaiichi Hatsukoi and it's the romance that turned me off. It's just plain secual harassment
Kaiser-Eoghan
In some way its easier to physically work it out mentally.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which leads to the interesting phenomenon of fudanshiism.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The bizzarest thing is I am significantly more attracted to women than men yet find shounen-ai/yaoi more of a draw, while admitting the shoujo-ai/yuri stories out there are better.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I recall actually liking the music in gravitation at one point.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As silly melodrama it was somewhat watchable.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I felt that a certain off colour scene with Chikane felt like character assassination.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But the characterization and mecha fights are particularly messy in kannazuki, especially bringing the manga into it where the villains didn't even get 1 second backstories and the framing of the art and panels is poor, with some of dialogue, at least in the dub sounding very silly.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Regarding kannazuki, I'm not going to doubt that it a kyoshiro aren't rip roaringly hilarious guilty pleasures, not that this dimnishes the anons take on the female lead.
Anonymous1832214
KnM is trash anime, but very endearing and a treasure. I love it.

(Just passing by, I'm straight male with a thing for yuri genre).
Anonymous1832169
And I think Gravitation is also because music is also part of the plot and not solely the romance. I think the last one I enjoyed was Love Stage but that only had a thing going with one side being biconfused. Though it didn't do anything with that.
Anonymous1832214
Kannazuki no Miko has a heroine who readily accepts her feelings and is in a position where it is very difficult not to empathise. Her love seems very pure and to me is very rewarding to watch.
Anonymous1832169
Kaiser-Eoghan - Yeah but then you have Utena, Aoi Hana, Noir, El Cazador de la Bruja, Madoka, and several other series that just happen to have lesbian couples. In terms of good or recognizable shounen ai, it's harder, since I think the most recognizable is Gravitation, followed by (maybe) the Nakamura ones (Seikachi Hatsukoi and his other series).
Kaiser-Eoghan
The manga is even worse than the anime.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There are truly terrible yuri series though I'm sure, no idea how Kannazuki no miko became a cult thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Sadly there's too much rape in yaoi.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Oh, the gender roles thing is terrible in those things. Plenty of gay men are masculine irl.
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