Posted on 20 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

I remember back in the first impression of last Winter season, I regarded Demi-chan as a better Monster Girls slice of life subgenre over this one. But as the season progressed, while Demi-chan run out of its steam quickly, this one picked up its pace after an underwhelming first episode to become a much more worthy title of last season, to the point many critics (according to ANN critics) hailed it as one of the best show out of 2017 Winter season, behind only to the modern masterpiece Rakugo. Do I agree with that consensus? No, God, no. They obviously don’t watch ACCA, and I would argue Scum’s Wish or Tanya are better options. Dragon Maid is a warm little show that have some neat things to say about dysfunctional family and a high production values for its genre, but it never raises above exceptional level to me.

In fact, now looking back, the premiere episode of Dragon Maid was a bad representation of a whole show. The premise of a female dragon decides to live in a human house as a maid and devotes herself to that role, loves her host unconditionally is a wish-fulfilment and convenient one. That episode also played up the slapstick tone of dragon making a mess trying to fit in with human environment, which became less and less prominent as the show went on. They also played up the comedy which was a missed opportunity because while Dagon Maid is very solid at humor, they never meant to be in a forefront. The show improved dramatically from second episode with the introduction of Kanna and the show shifted the focus to slice-of-life approach, but the first episode already did the damage to discourage anime watchers into this show.

The humor of the show is on the risqué and bawdy side and I really do prefer this type of humor than over the top silliness, but I also agree that sometimes they got too carried away. The yuri love at the centre between Tohru and Kobayashi-san is well grounded; but the same can’t be said for the running gags of yuri undertone between two primary schoolers of Kanna and Riko (sometimes Kanna is a perpetrator for example, in which she “innocently” staying too close to Riko). More cringe-worthy, Lucoa and Shouta running gags of gigantic bouncing boob gave a huge backlash to more serious anime watchers as it appears the older (dragon) woman sexually assaulted the young shy boy. Well, for the love of God I’m not that serious about the issue but bouncy boob jokes do get old fast.

But at its core, Dragon Maid is a sensitive portrayal of a dysfunctional family and what it means to share happy moments with the person you love. Kobayashi-san, a thirty something workwoman who prefer to be left alone than having any real relationship is a perfect protagonist for this tale about family. Sometimes she remarks that it’s her who unsure how to express her feeling. Most of the time she doesn’t contact her real family not because they are having a tense relationship, it’s just her who feels detached from the family. There’s a real, honest look at the heart of modern day lifestyle, when individual starts drifting away from any real connection and this series is all about establishing that real connection.

The second theme Dragon Maid of underlined is the very definition of “family” and “where we belong”, as Tohru, who born a dragon, comes to live together with a human. The show addressed many times that the human world isn’t Tohru’s place, and because human’s and dragon’s lifespans are vastly dissimilar, what will happen to Tohru once Kobayashi reaches her end? Does lingering on the life that clearly don’t belong to you worth taking at all? As this series says, yes, because feeling is true. The other theme about family this show also addresses is the parental relationship, especially those from Kobayashi-san and Kanna. There are many touching moments where Kanna looks up to the protagonist as her mother figure (as a dragon she was exiled from her family) and Kobayashi-san tries her best to fit in that role. Secretly buying the stationary that she loves, tries to finish work early in order to aatend her play. Those intimate moments come from a very real place that doesn’t matter if the premise is phony (dragon appears as maid girl, duh), as long as your heart is in the right place you still hit jackpot.

True to its “sharing the moments together” theme, many of the show’s best sequences lie in the slice-of-life activities the characters have with each other, be it as bizarre as dragon’s fights, anime convention (where real monsters appear as themselves), or as mundane as spending a christmas holiday in kotatsu, preparing dinner or having a sport festival (there must be one in every slice of life high school show huh?) or performing a play together. The cast is mostly likable, especially Kanna who takes the anime world by storms. I also find the different length in each segment to be effective. Sometimes it plays for entire episode, sometimes it chops off and we have 4-koma like format, which actually adds to the final punch and the laid-back atmosphere of the show.

As KyoAni is the studio behind this show, it goes without saying that the show have a great treatment in productions values. The characters facial expressions are varied and spot on, the animation- where it needs to be, especially during dragon’s battles, is energetic and exciting. From what I gathered the studio actually modified a bit in its last 2 episodes from the manga source, which for me enhanced the main emotional core and successfully ended the show by overcoming its biggest external and internal threats.
All in all, Dragon Maid is an enjoyable anime. The show has relaxed atmosphere, engaging chemistry between its main cast, great animation and have some deeper and more intimate moments than its usual slice of life fare. Still compare to KyoAni canon I can’t help but think this is an inferior one with questionable fanservice. It’s heartwarming but lack certain quality to raise above the rest of a pack.

Posted on 8 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Scum's Wish

I remember after watched a movie called “Requiem for a Dream” a few years back, I felt devastated for an entire week. The ending hit me so hard that after finished that movie I had to walk around my area for 2 hours in the middle of night to settle my feeling and I thought to myself, “What’s the point of being too hard to the characters, those who have feeling and dreams just like any of us?” Then it hit me immediately. The movie is an unflinching look at the bad side of drugs and how it corrupts people. People like you and me. I finished Scum’s Wish feeling the exact same way. Scum’s Wish is an anti-romance series, a show that excels on portraying ugly aspects of romance relationship and the line of that love versus physical love. I don’t blame you if you feel emotionally-drained watching this series. It was supposed to be that way and for all the dark sides the show evokes, Scum’s Wish always give more thoughtful and honest treatments than most of other anime out there. The way the show handles the bright side of love though, couldn’t pull so much punch as it aimed for.

I do believe the title “Scum’s Wish” really give you an idea of what this show is about. The “Wish” part of the show is its exploration of unrequited love. This unrequited love trope appears everywhere in the show to the point it could be considered as a deconstruction. All these feelings so pure and strong it begins to be eaten over by desired; hatred and obsessions. In Scum’s Wish, everyone falls hopelessly in love with another person who don’t return their love, become blinded and damaged by that obsessive love and in the end, they had to leave that love to move on with their lives. “If it’s a special kind of pain, they’ll be able to become stronger”. Scum’s Wish argues that it’s a painful process to let go with the love of your life, but it’s a necessary step in order to grow up and become a fully-formed person.

But it’s the “Scum” part that gives makes this show provocative and controversial, for all the right reasons. Unable to let go of those one-sided loves, the characters of the show start to use physical means to get what they want. The show keeps progressing its confidence take on the line between physical desires and emotional desires, on how the characters keep using the former as the substitute for the latter, but end up being lonelier and more suffering. Also in Scum’s Wish, all characters really self-aware on the muddy situations they get themselves in, but charge forward anyways. They know what they do will fill them with regret and disgust, but they continue to do it for their own selfish gains, be it to escape from the frustration that they can’t be with the one they love, trying to get every little moment they could out of the loved one, or just use physical attraction as an approval of their power – hence Scum. Those moments where the characters struggling with themselves, most notably Hanabi’s young version loathes current Hanabi are one of the darkest, yet effective sequences of the show.

For a show that has little action and with a mundane high school settings, the visual presentation and the direction of the show are surprisingly very solid. I agree with most of its visual choices, ranging from the using of panel like in manga that represent both multiple perspectives and establish the space between our characters; the stylized key frames that make us feel like time has stopped in those moments; the text screens that represent more as a visualize of characters’ thoughts; the constant use of visual motifs like fallen rose pedals, characters facing the bright, more innocent selves that detailing the increasingly corruptions of the cast. The music; in particular, stands out in Scum’s Wish, as each segment has a different distinctive musical score that really help elevating the mood of each sequence.

The characters in the show are unfortunately a mixed-bag for me. We have really strong leads of Hanabi and Mugi who constantly have to deal with their personal issues, and the show successfully keeps peeling their skins for more nake, more vulnerable of themselves. With a show that aims more on pushing provocative themes than actual characters’ study, there are some characters of the cast are decidedly presented as one-dimensional from the start. Both Akane-sensei and Moca fall comfortably in their usual character’s stock, one is a bitchy bitch who love attention from men and jealousy from girls, the other is an elegant princess who dream for the prince to come. The show presents them as cliché in order to deconstruct how flawed their ways of thinking are. When they shrug off that extreme side of theirs, however, they become stronger and happier in the process. Moreover, I find Ecchan love towards Hanabi one of the most complex and appealing romance in this show. While the female cast if this show is consistently great (even with limited time on screen, Mugi’s senpai still come off as a painful and conflicted character. Strong character’s writing here), the male cast unfortunately doesn’t develop fully enough. Four-eyed sensei drags the show down and he feels more like a walking stick than a normal person; that guy Takuya is portrayed in mostly insensitive light that I feel he was more a trash bin with all the bad traits male inhibits; and Atsuya’s role in the show feel awkward and a bit forced towards pulling Ecchan out of her mess.

While the way this show handles its dark, twisted web of broken romances is effective and thought-provoking, the last third of the show it loses some of its impact as the show tries to resolve all of its relationships. With things are messy and complicated as they are, the ending feels a bit too clean and sometimes overreached. I can’t buy that love between Akane and Narumi for example, I feel like Hanabi and Ecchan can’t go back as friend, bot with that short time span and I feel the ending of Hanabi and Mugi, while appropriate, is underwhelmed. The best strength of Scum’s Wish is its ability to grab you and never let you go, but its impact is lessened greatly towards the end.

As a whole, Scum’s Wish is still a solid drama. Not so often in this medium we see a more realistic and dark aspect of love and romance like this one. The fact that I keep comparing this show to other movies really speak to this quality of Scum’s Wish: the show is structured and presented more like live-action TV show than an anime one (in fact, the live-action drama is currently streaming as we speak). For all of its devastating and depressing details, at its peak Scum’s Wish manages to pull many raw and naked emotional punch that many other shows don’t dare to address. Scum’s Wish is ultimately a painful and uncomfortable experience, but that what growing up is all about.

Posted on 4 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

When you have watched a large amount of anime you can come to assume that you have learned a lot about Japanese culture. Though I think it’s testament to how limited it is to view Japan through anime when you come to realize that despite watching so much, you have never heard of Rakugo. Rakugo is a time of performance art that involves a man sitting on stage and telling a story. Sometimes a funny story, other times a heartwarming story or sometimes even a horror story. The man is given no props and much convey each actor and event in the story with his voice and mannerisms alone. Rakugo is the art of the storyteller and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is a story about those storytellers. Truthfully it’s difficult for me to explain exactly why this series is so great. It could be considered a landmark in character drama and a true mature anime for those tired of superpowered teenagers fighting monsters. Rakugo is a story about tragedy, about the harshness of time, about the stories that lie within stories. It follows the tale of a young boy entering the art to his final days performing in old age. In a way this story isn’t about Rakugo but instead how it affects those involved with it and their passion to perform.

Admittedly though this isn’t the show for everyone. For one a large amount of the show is dedicated to Rakugo performances. While you can admire the skill of the voice actors emoting and the general outline of the story, it’s clear that a lot is lost on ears that cannot understand Japanese. This is a character driven story and the characters are driven by Rakugo so if the Rakugo itself doesn’t quite appeal to you then admittedly that’s a large chuck of the show you won’t enjoy. Even for those that do enjoy it there is the issue that while the first season is near perfect, the second drags out it’s conclusion which can be a detriment if it isn’t tugging your heartstrings as much as it wants to. Through if Rakugo hits that sweet spot for you then it will likely be a series you hold close to your heart. The characters are great with Yakumo being center stage for most of the story. We see him go from an insecure young man to a confident performer to an old tired professional in the span of a single season. Sukeroku is the lovable mooch whose passion for what he does is unmatched. Likewise you have Yotaro who is a man that’s loud and straightforward, but delightfully genuine. With Konatsu being the snarky girl with a heart of gold. What truly makes these characters special is that they lack the common anime tropes which seem to invest each anime character nowadays. The characters of Rakugo are genuine in personality and that’s what makes the drama so strong.

Animation and art wise the series is relatively subdued and a lot of the effort goes into the emotions during  Rakugo performance. This series isn’t a visual tour de force but frankly that’s not the point. Music again is suitable but not really all that memorable. If you happen to have an interest in Japanese culture and feel worn out by the modern cliches of anime then Rakugo is a breath of fresh air for you. It will take you on a ride with twists and turns before ending with a conclusion that leaves no loose ends. By its very nature I think Rakugo will be a niche gem of the anime medium. Through however niche, it will truly beloved. Much like the art of Rakugo itself.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Saga of Tanya the Evil

Isekai stories have become somewhat of a tiresome genre as of late. There have been many stories of people being transported/reincarnated into other worlds where they shed their once pitiful exterior and become some legendary figure in another world. In most cases it’s trit, balant childish wish fulfilment and the stories often become tiresome when the protagonist gains a level of power that could never be challenged. Enter Youji Senki(Saya of Tanya the evil) where in a HR manager from Japan is tossed into a alternative world WWI by god in an effort to teach him piety. Tanya’s first episode may not win over many but if you check out the second episode you will be taken for quite a ride. This series is the first work by Studio Nut and while it pushed them to their limits it remains a impressive piece of work. Animation and art could be shaky and character designs took a hit for what looks to be for making animation easier. Tanya has some truly impressive set pieces and boasts the largest number of war scenes I have seen in a single anime.

There are shows which advertise themselves as action packed but are anything but, however Tanya is not one of these shows. Though when Tanya takes it slow that can be some of the more interesting parts of the series. Tanya and God’s interactions make for some of the best parts of the show and show a underline of Theism vs Atheism symbolism. The show doesn’t pick a side and admittedly any meaning gathered from this would be shallow level speculation at best. This aspect also becomes less prevalent in the second half of the show as God stands aside in favor of a more human antagonist. It didn’t delve into the concept as much as it could have but it nonetheless makes for a great hook to keep the viewer interested.

In regards to this series flaws the big thing is that it is Tanya’s show through and through. What means is that Tanya gets the bulk of the development, Tanya gets the glory and she gets every moment of badassery. This leaves a large majority of the supporting cast rather underdeveloped and I am certain you won’t remember most of their names by show’s end. In the same way Tanya is to a degree rediculously overpowered and a good amount of the shows second half is dedicated to her steamrolling her opponents. If you don’t find Tanya’s character compelling or interesting, I doubt there will be much here for you besides an alternate take on World War I. Still it’s hard not to like Tanya when she is a beautifully made anti-hero whose motivations are understandable but exceedly malicious. The series can be humorous at times with the after credits sequences taking on a more joking tone than the series normally goes for. The way in how Tanya’s actions and intentions are misinterpreted make for some really humorous scenarios.

For history buff this series provides some meat as well in how the war proceeds in the anime mirrors that of real history and while magical aspects are present, a lot of the equipment used is true to the time. Music is decent with the main theme having enough to get you pumped during an action scene. The opening is different and might not be to everyone’s tastes but the ending is great and closes out each episode perfectly. I applaud Tanya for being one of the few anime to not make use of fanservice as Tanya is in no way fetished at any point within the show. Considering that she is a lolita you would think that’s a given but believe me in that hasn’t stopped many shows before. This show remains a remarkably fun watch throughout, though it loses some steam in its second half but makes a comeback with it’s final two episodes. I say this is well worth any anime fans time and certainly deserving of a second season if being X is merciful.

Posted on 31 March 2017 with categories: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Anime Reviews

Imagine my utmost amazement when a show that I wasn’t that confident on taking in the beginning turned out to be one of the most solid offering this season had to offer. ACCA is the most recent anime adaptation from mangaka Natsume Omo, which despite isn’t a household name, many of her works (6 titles of them) have been translated to English, a privilege that rarely seen among this industry. Watching ACCA though, it’s easy to see her appeals: attractive and recognizable character designs, detailed world settings, complex yet laid-back themes and featuring characters that always in the move. ACCA embodies all those traits with slow but confident pacing that have an ending that perfectly tied up all the plot threads- for me one of the best ending I have seen in years. ACCA isn’t perfect by any mean, after all, adapting full 6 volumes into one cour of 12 episodes mean that they have to cut LOTS of extra details. Although I would’ve preferred more if the show has more time to focus on these 13 Districts and their ACCA’s representatives, the mere fact that they manage to make the plot points flows seamlessly, while still engage (or rather, enhance) viewers’ interest by each passing episode isn’t an easy feat at all; so a special shout out for Madhouse for this wonderful adaptation.

At first, what really makes ACCA compelling to watch is its rich world setting; as the show’s diverse settings is one of its identity itself. The 13 districts all have their own distinctive traits and are vastly different in wealth and their sub-cultures; which remind me a bit of the worlds in Kino’s Journeys. In fact, it’s too different from each other that the only thing that they all SHARE is its autonomy. I should remind you, the demand for putting background details for this show is insane, as they have to show the characteristics of all 13 districts in the little time they had without obstruct the pacing, but Studio Pablo (you might need to remember that name- They are an anime background company, the team who also handled the gorgeous visual backgrounds in Flip Flappers) did a marvelous job in putting as much details as possible from those districts. The two poorest districts were given more development than the rest with their own stories and struggles and as a whole, Dowa Kingdom is a place that I’m more than happy to spend more time to. The ACCA’s representative member in each district, likewise, all given just about enough personality to both inform us their own characters, and how the uniqueness in the district they work in starts to influent them. Regrettably, I still feel the show doesn’t have much screen time to flesh out those ACCA members but that is the sacrifice I’m willing to take…

… Because ACCA is masterclass at its storytelling and pacing. Even now when I’m looking back at the series, I don’t see any wasted segments, any meaningless conversations or any useless developments. Everything the show puts in, they are there for a reason, either to advance the plot, or to flesh out the characters, or give the show more identity. All the plot developments were hinted subtly way ahead, so when the BIG ANOUNCEMENTS take place, we don’t feel like them pulling the rug under our feet, but instead we’re well prepared to take such twists in. Secondly, all the character’s usual habits like Jean’s constantly smoking, Nino taking pictures, or Lotta eating cakes all the times not only tell us their personality, but also those details suggest a deeper plot meaning (see the relevance of cigarettes here? Or the reason why Nino taking pictures all the time?). Moreover, for a show that mainly about the scheming, plan within a plan within a plan about the coup, there are surprising overloaded with breads, cakes and deserts. Characters in this show fall in love with breads, buying cakes when scheming about a plan, making friends through the love of toasts (which ultimately saved Lotta’s life), and to be fair, the love of bread is what give birth to Jean and Lotta to begin with (guess where their Mom met their father? A bakery of course), but strangely, those moments of cake-porn never feel out of place in this ACCA world. For me personally, cakes and toasts will be what I miss the most about this show. And then the pacing. While many would argue the ACCA is snail-moving slow, and they’re mostly right, this is one of the most confident pacing that I’ve seen this season. It’s slow, but it never drags. It’s slow, but it keeps getting more intense as it goes on; steadily to its final showdown.

Another attribute; however, that really sets ACCA well apart from other political thrillers, or any thrillers in that extend; lies in its almost non-existence of violence and dark intentions. ACCA is an idealistic show; characters in ACCA think and behave for the benefit of the kingdom, where sacrifice of individuals can be necessary to keep peace for the nation (That make the backstory of princess Schnee even more tragic). Even the show’s main villain’s thrust to destroy the throne wouldn’t necessary qualified as evil either; after all, all he wanted is the “rightful” power and control for his own district, one of the richest and most influential district. If shows like Berserk or Death Parade keeps addressing the dark and ugliness of human’s nature, show like ACCA is the opposite. It’s almost too bright, too optimistic about human, which is be no mean these characters aren’t complex. The characters are plotting plans within plans, and sometimes their actions are already manipulated by other’s, but more or less their objectives always aim for the better of the people, with little to no gain for themselves. While personally I don’t have much of an issue with it, I do feel portraying the world that devoid of violence or ill-will might split the audience on being unrealistic, and that ending where too much of good things happened (look, Pranetta hits gold) could turn some viewers off for being over-cheerfulness.

Madhouse’s execution to this series is overall top-notch. The use of strong color pallete, for example, gives the show so much texture and more impressively, they fit in with the tones so well that those color palletes don’t stick out like sore thumb. Episode 8, for example, detailing the one big flashback of princess Schnee through Nino and his father’s eyes is textbook example on how to use those colors the most effective. The music, likewise, is really on point most of the time and the shot compositions have great flairs, cinematic, and sometimes they convey the mood and tension just by showing one character’s position to another (like when Mauve informed Jean about his royal heritage) or putting the characters in the soft, blurred background (most prominently through the climax of the last episode). In one word, exceptional. But there is one minor issue, though. For a show that have high caliber of crafting like ACCA, the animation, the actual motions, is lacking. Characters stay at static positions most of the time, and even their expressions don’t change much. Which for me is fair, because ACCA has always been about the calm, about what beneath the surface so it’s only appropriate that we don’t get to see much actions on the surface, both in term of actual movement, or the plot itself.

ACCA also is extremely well-grounded in terms of underlining characters’ chemistry. Although I would argue that those characters don’t change/grow much in terms of character’s development (see, in the end, Jean is still the same guy we saw at the beginning, so is Lotta, or… gasp, Owl), but the show delivers such natural chemistry between the cast, especially the trio Jean – Nino – Lotta that it’s such a nice time to see them hanging around together. Each of the pair give off a different chemistry to boost, and they always feel so effortlessly to each other that when Jean and Lotta find out the truth about Nino, it’s bitter and sweet at the same time. For a show that is more about the detachment (everything flows underneath the surface), they understand that the underlying emotions of the show is the buddy relationship between Nino and Jean (and well, Schnee’s tragic past) so rightfully ACCA gives their final moments on those two as a sweet farewell to us.

But like I mentioned earlier, ACCA is not without its issues. One of it is that the show has to compress its source material to only 12 episodes, as a result in the last third of the show the sweet cakes and deserts just evaporated (but I can understand, we wouldn’t take the coup seriously with all those cakes and breads so they have to go), and like I said, more time to flesh out the uniqueness of each districts and their ACCA representatives would benefit the show greater. Secondly, by giving much attentions to the royal and the members in power, we don’t get to see the Dowa Kingdom in ordinary citizen’s point of view. I mean, we hardly know anything about Jean and Lotta’s father, a commoner, for example. Moreover, being slow and static and diplomatic-centric also means that when the show has to raise up its tempo; most notably during the Lotta assassination; they are clumsy in both storytelling and execution to the point of near-ridiculousness. And lastly, show with this deliberate pacing won’t attract much of the mainstream audience, in which if that is the case, the only think I can say is that they have missed out one of the best well written gem this year had to provide and trust me, this show will hold up well with time. I will definitely check out more of Natsume Omo’s works.

Posted on 29 March 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

Demi-chan is one of the newest addition to the monster girl subgenre, which usually feature a human helpless male lead get stuck in a harem of mythical creatures, in form of oversized boob girls of course (why usually those monsters are in female forms anyways? Aren’t they sexless?). In this case, we have monster girls as high school students in an otherwise mundane ordinary world, where human begins to accept them as a part of society. With the help of a teacher who takes special interest in demi-human, those monster girls (called themselves as demi) starts to navigate their lives, opens up about their demi abilities and how they adjust those abilities to fit in with the environments around them. Demi-chan, as a result, tackles quite thoughtfully and sincerely about demi issues from multiple sides; from demi side, from those who do and don’t aware about them. The middle part of the show, however; dragged the show down by a passable but uninspiring slice-of-life tendency where nothing much happened. The final two episode picked up some of the show’s best spirits but as a whole, Demi-chan isn’t special enough or hard-hitting enough to really stand out in a crowd.

As you can probably guess from the title “Interviews with Monster Girls”, the show focuses on the main demi-human nature of our high school girls: vampire, dullahan, snow girl, succubus. By that the show comparing their true natures to those traits we all heard from mythology (Do vampires hate onion? How succubus work to attract male preys?), addressing their main concerns toward blending in with human world, and explaining their demi abilities so that those girls understand and be proud about their nature. One of the main moral question the show keeps asking throughout its run is that how we, the human people, should treat the demi girls most appropriately. Should we treat them like normal people, or should we care more about their monster’s attributes? Isn’t keep questioning about their “abnormal” nature a kind of discrimination itself? When you keep asking about those natures so many times it’d make the monster girls aware that they are different than the rest. For that Demi-chan argues that it is necessary for the girls to learn and embrace their own natures because those natures are a part of themselves and are what make them unique as a person. The human as well should learn and understand their concerns in order to really support them. Sometimes we do some discriminated actions to them without we knowing it (one of the lines from a recent film Hidden Figure really hits it home. The white boss: “Despite what you may think, I have nothing against y’all”. To which one of the black girl replied “I know, I know you probably believe that.” I totally agree with this thoughtful approach and to be frank this attitude is relevant to the people from ethnic groups in real life as well. I’m not going to touch on world political much but with Trump’s aggressive actions towards Muslim countries and border immigrations, sometimes what we should do instead is understanding each other’s points of views and acknowledge and respect their distinctive cultures.

Another strength of Demi-chan is this show has a lot of hearts. The show has its light-heart, sweet nature hanging in the air and many of those big emotional scenes are heart-felt and delightful. Well, you can argue that those moments (like Hikari confronts the bullied girls in the toilet, or Hikari encourages Tetsuo by the lake) are over-sentimental for its own good, but when its heart is on the right place I have no problem with that. It’s that sweet nature and the easy chemistry between those girls and Tetsuo that basically carry the show throughout its run. In addition, the sweet voice acting help elevating the chemistry as well. Of those characters, Tetsuo-sensei and Hikari are easily the best characters of the show. Hikari for her over the top but that’s-exactly-what-we-need carefree attitude, and Tetsuo for consistently helping out the girls with his kindness and he also grows from approaching the girls with curiosity into wholeheartedly caring about them. The second last episode where the show examines how close should he assist the girls is also a thoughtful, well-drawn conflict that help developing his character and making us see how much he means to other monster girls.

The introductions and then the interviews of our monster girls are easily the show’s best parts. After the interviews segment though, Demi-chan stumbles in finding a hook so it relies on some of its more questionable aspects: the romance and the slice-of-life approach. The romance is a totally dead weight, unfortunately, because this show doesn’t need any romance to begin with. Sakie’s crush on Tetsuo is more of a missed opportunity than a hit, because it’s awkward in tone and worse, gets pale very, very quickly. Kyouko the dullahan’s feeling towards her teacher is also the show’s low points, and there was more than one time that Tetsuo having a sexual tension towards her, which gives this show a rather bad taste. Secondly, after the interviews the show wanders around for “cute monster girls doing cute things” focus, that including the girls studying for the exams, enjoy reading old manga and swimming in the pool (really, we MUST have pooling episode in some ways). Those moments sure are cute and relaxing but they don’t really have much to say and it loses its steams by each passing episode. In fact, I don’t remember much what happens in those middle episodes because nothing really happened, nor mattered. Lastly, the new characters introduced in that period are unmemorable at best. The young boy and the detective adds little to the table, that Tetsuo’s scientist friend has no chemistry whatsoever with the cast, the human students don’t have much screen time to stand out and Hikari’s parents, while well-fleshed out, still remain underdeveloped. In fact, where is Himari in the second half of the show? It is a shame because she’s far more interesting than most of the core cast out there.

In the end, I’d only recommended the first 4 episodes and the last two, which would sum up to exactly half of its runtime. Except from its well-thought approach on the nature of the demon girls and the easy chemistry between our characters, the show leaves little impact and unfortunately, for me at least, the middle part really brings the show down to the point I feel it falls flatter and flatter as each episode passed. The last two episodes did regain some of its spirit but by then it was far too late. Still, I don’t deny that I have an easy time watching Demi-chan, it’s good to get sucked in their world and enjoy the band of demi-girls having fun times, but ultimately when it’s all done and gone I left without much personal attachments from any of this.

Posted on 27 March 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

Let me say this out front, Seiren is NOT a good show, it’s a highly uneven one. Throughout its run, I can see some solid moments and fresh ideas that could potentially raise it above the bar, but ultimately, view it as a whole, Seiren is a show that isn’t worth recommending. At first, I’m actually intrigued by the premise of the show: an omnibus format on the romance between our protagonist and each of the girl (3 of them this season). Ya know, a harem without an actual harem. For me personally, I’m dread at the concept of “the one” in romance, that there is one person who specifically for you, your “true love”. I always believe that having a romantic relationship with someone is a matter of meeting them at the right time in the right circumstances, of course with enough chemistry and efforts. So, for a show like this (and Amagami, I’ll get to that later), showing multiple possibilities one could’ve have to be in love with different girls is actually interesting and more realistic concept, at least for me. Moreover, with 4 episodes for each arc, it is a perfect length to flesh out the characters, heighten the chemistry before the romance itself drags out for too long. That was in theory anyways, because what we got instead is a show that bugged down by a very inconsistent plot progression, awkward pacing and weak writing in general.

It’s hard not compare this to Amagami so I will address this issue first. Although Seiren is an original show, it borrows the same concept, the same structure and even the same settings with the latter, so like it or not we have to see if this show is better than its inspiration or unique enough to stand out by its own. For the quality, Amagami is way better and way more focus, they understand the romance is their central point so everything they put is mainly to flesh out the relationship between the main character and any given girl. Each of the route starts and finishes around the same time period, making us feel strong connection between each arc. Moreover, Amagami works because it adapts its Sim-dating format really thoughtfully (okay, enough about Amagami, I won’t address it again. Promise). Seiren, being an original show, doesn’t really need to follow Amagami’s footstep because frankly, why stick to a game format when you have an ability to do something fresher? Seiren achieved it in a way, because after finishing the show I wouldn’t call it a ghost of its predecessor. It is its own thing, but in an inferior way.

The first issue here is the route, because honestly I can’t call it a route. Each arc happens in a different time period, and sometimes without the knowledge of the previous arc, you couldn’t follow the details in later arc (like Tatsuya, Shouichi’s friend, who has a fetish for rabbit). Worst of all, except for featuring the same stock of characters in the same school settings, the three arcs are vastly unrelated to each other, be it in themes, in the romance, even in characters themselves. For that I mean the characters change in personalities during each arc that it’s hard to consider them the same person. Take Shouichi best friend, Ikuo for example. In the first arc, he appears as Shouichi’s close childhood friend but he’s more academic, he’s more serious about his life and spends a lot of time for study. In the second arc however, the show betrays his nerd side by putting him to become a game-buddy with our main leads; and in the last part I wouldn’t consider them close friend at all (how can you call each other best friend when you have no idea the girl that Ikuo crushed for so long) and Ikuo acts like a love-struck Romeo. The only thing that consistent is the show’s weird fetish for deer, in which I find rather fascinating.

Then to the big elephant in a room, the writing and the progress of the plot are all over the place. In Seiren, I have a feeling that there are too many chefs in a kitchen, thus the result is a hot mess tomato syrup. Sometimes it wants to be a game-buddy show with exciting mecha fights (really!), sometimes it focuses on magical girl- passion only for later it drops that storyline to focus instead on the girl baking and enjoying Christmas party, then it remembers that it had to develop a romance so it puts the characters alone together. In addition, normally you know the writing of a show is inadequate when a side character shows up and you had to think for a few seconds to remember who that person is. Well, I have the same problem with this series. Like, who is that girl in swimming club again? From the poster, I supposed she’d be one of the harem but where are the other two girls then? They might be around somewhere but at this point I lose all the interest to find out who they are. And not even characters, but the plots development as well. Let’s see, why Seiren keeps focusing on Hikari’s best friend backstabbing her subplot and then kind of drop it off all together? Why the subplot of the Student Council President (oh, my bad, it’s Public Morals Committee) forced the Home ec Club to build a Christmas tree? There were like dozen subplots in one arc without any proper development that it feels just like having a dream. I bet in few months all we can remember is the main plot points and some fragments here and there but we totally forget everything else.

But the show is not without its charms, mind you. First thing I should mention is the hilarious dialogues that bother self-satire, that actually make the show ridiculous and funny at certain points. Line like “Sorry, do you mind if I feed my deer” in a middle of a café date with deadpan delivery is something to behold. While the main male protagonist is plain, I like the all three girls Hikari (no, not the vampire), Toru and Kyouko (no, not the dullahan. What’s up with this show and Demi-chan?) and they are interesting and diverse enough to carry the show by themselves majority of the time (my favorite girl: Hikari). Lastly, I enjoyed the epilogue parts of each arc because I think it’s one of the rare cases where the randomness in details work in their favors. Watching Shouichi become a chief, a school bus driver (haha) or a magical girl mangaka is both hilarious, but also remind us the endless possibilities of our own future.

The technical aspect of the show is nothing to write home about, although it fulfills its jobs. There are some moments, most notably, during the “kiss in a beach” scene, where the visual and sound really elevate the whole sequence. Other time, the show did a decent job of choreographing an action mecha fight and the character designs, while attractive in general, sometimes I do feel like I was looking at fake wax statues (weird huh?). I think it mostly have to do with the character’s eyes, sometimes they just kind of staring too long without any emotion attached.

It’s note repeating that for my score, I consider 60 as recommendation line; as such Seiren falls short. The inconsistent in plots and sometimes in characters themselves are its most drawbacks. It’s a pity because I can see many of its plots have a potential to become a solid offering, but when they jam up everything they can think of together, the result is a half-baked resolution to most of its plots. If there will ever be a second season (come on, there are 3 more girls), I’m not exactly sure if I still care to watch it. At the end of the day, Seiren is a misfire romance show, it had potential to be a much better show, but all it need is to settle in some major plot points and develop them properly. To put it more precisely, Seiren lacks a sucker punch.

Posted on 6 January 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Flip Flappers

What makes Flip Flappers stand out from the rest of the anime field? I found a lot of people asking that question along the way. Well, first off, Flip Flappers isn’t your ordinary anime offering, that’s for sure. Its visual styles are too much and too incoherent for one thing, the narrative never really reveal anything until halfway point for another thing. At the same times, this is the one rare anime that inspired many analysis, essays trying to decode what it is actually about, drawing thematic relevance out of their visual motifs and symbolism. So, what’s all the fuss, really? Let me get into that now.

On the surface, Flip Flappers is an adventure stories between the timid, shy Cocona who was dragged by the impulsive Papika into “Pure Illusions” worlds, the alternative realities that might or might not represent the inner psyche of its human’s subjects; to collect fragments that would grant wishes. Originally billed as a magical girl, the show hops through variations of genre, settings to whatever it pleases. In one episode Papika and Cocona were in the middle of a wasteland for an action Mad Max-inspired adventure, to the next they were trapped in a Class-S circle that would actually surpass many psychological horror shows out there, to another episode where they mysteriously became one identity that would make any David Lynch’s fans proud. It’s that freedom to break the rules and pick whatever content and styles they see fit made the show refreshing and unpredictably, which actually very fitting to how adventures should be like.

Moreover, Flip Flappers is a very visually arresting show, a true “show, don’t tell” kind of series. We’re no stranger with shows that are more about styles, shows that are showcases for young, talented animators to experiment with new styles and visuals, Normally, I don’t mind those kinds of show because we do need something like this to push the boundary of anime medium, but more often than not those shows don’t have any proper storytelling at all. Great visual doesn’t mean great storytelling anyway. Flip Flappers walks that very thin line as the show seemingly try to overwhelm us with its abstract visual, vibrant imaginary; color and resonant emotions in an expense for coherent plots; but I will give the show this: while Flip Flappers not always make sense narrative, it more than makes it up thematically as those wild visuals and motifs are in service for of its adolescence themes.

In fact, if you look a little deeper behind its fun adventures, the show constantly addresses many of its coming-of-age concerns throughout its run. First and foremost is the theme of identity, as for its 13-episodes long our main Cocona had to figure out who she wants to be, whom she can be trusted. The identity theme is continuously directed in many forms, both visually and symbolically: from Cocona being a constant source of being manipulated and controlled by others, those two girls are trapped in a false, repetitive cycle of “safe” environment, the girls represent the same character or even to other extreme, Papika appears continuously as various different identities. Papika and Cocona’s relationship, on the other hand, function like two sides of the same coins of being growing up. The show is a constant adolescent journeys that make up from opposing force between the urge, freedom and emotional directness from Papika and compassion, responsibility, think before act quality from Cocona. It’s a legitimate fear of growing up and becoming an adult filled with responsibility and burden; but as the third girl Yayaka and our Cocona later figure out, maybe small steps like be honest to your feeling could be what it takes to become a fully-grown person and overcome that fear.

The show’s climax, while closing down nicely Cocona and Papika’s relationship and give Mimi just about enough development to become a fearsome antagonist; I still consider it a lackluster final arc that keep me from giving it a higher score, especially coming straight from a spectacular middle part. In fact, the only time I would consider as brilliant in this last arc was Yayaka kicks ass and getting a well-deserved transformation. The rest of the cast unfortunately don’t have much roles in the final showdown. Judging those side characters as a whole, we actually know very little about them despite the twins and the staffs from Flip Flap organization appear in nearly every single episode, which is a shame. The late addition of Nyunnyun and the very role of Bu-Chan are also hugely unnecessary, as they don’t add much to the big picture and moreover, the inclusion of them feel a bit awkward to the rest of the story. Dr. Salt, on the other hand, had a bit of development but the show still doesn’t know how to use him to full potential as his role in the show function towards Mimi only; as a result; although it’s pretty much confirmed that Dr. Salt is Cocona’s father, I have a hard time believing that because there was no chemistry between them. Maybe that’s a whole point as he felt awkward towards Cocona based from his guilt, but I have a feeling that the show doesn’t seem to try even that.

But as I said in my weekly post, judging the show by how well it plays the rule isn’t a right approach, for Flip Flappers is the show that determines to break free and walk its own path. So back to that very first question: What makes Flip Flappers special? Well, I will put it this way: the show is a sublime example of animation in its purest form. Shows like this further highlight what makes animation so unique and appealing (I’m not talking strictly about anime, but the whole animation medium) that others medium can’t be able to express. Story like this can only works in animation form and the show successfully remind us the pure magic of animation and really why we fall in love with animation in a first place. With show as confident and creative as this I have a pretty optimistic feeling for the future of animation. Cross my fingers.

Posted on 4 January 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Sound! Euphonium 2

I must admit that out of all the series I was blogging last year, Sound Eupho 2 was the one I’m saddest to see it ends; not because it was my absolute favorite anime last year, but because the sheer amount of their attention to details and their ridiculously quest for perfection are something that out of this world, in this day and age, which I will get to that later in my review. This is a sequel to Sound Eupho last year but I will keep the comparison to the first season to minimum in terms of quality because this season is great enough to be judged by its own.

The story is a direct continuation from the end of last season, as the Kitauji high school concert band just qualified from the qualifying round, now heading to Kansai region competition and later on, the National competition. Unlike the first season where the main dramatic events like Aio pulled out from the music club to focus on her study; the audition to choose the best players for the competition or the challenge to pick the lead trumpet arise and resolved around the development of the band club itself, the second season concentrates more on the band members’ personal issues. This change of focus is more apparent in the second half, when the show completely drops the band practice, even to the point of not showing the national performance at all. I understand this bold choice can cause disappointment to many fans who want to see the band in action, and moreover focus on individual character drama can cause the lack of cohesive theme; this shift of attention, on the other hand, also brings out some of the best character developments and intimate moments the show has ever achieved.

I will get to the negative part first. When the show concentrates more on character’s heightened drama, those dramas can be uneven and doesn’t add up much to the big picture. Two of this season’s acts for example: Yoroizuka and Reina act don’t play well for me because they have the exact opposite problems. Yoroizuka (the only character that I used by surname here, as this is how Kumiko refers her) is a secondary character who was suddenly given the spotlight and while her final confrontation with Yuuko and Nozomi was effective, the drama was resolved too quickly, Yoroizuka changed so fast that I personally don’t see her grow as natural at all. Reina’s affection to Taki-sensei grow to another level this season, but I’m not alone to say that this was the show’s weakest act because almost everyone can see the outcomes. That drama isn’t much to speak of to begin with; it’s a shame because Reina was my favorite character the first season and I’d like to see other kind of developments for Reina, any other development but this.

Moreover, sometimes it does feel like Sound Eupho stumbles around those dramas in order to “create the situation”; as a result sometimes the show loses its focus because it has to cover too many grounds (like in episode 6), other times some of the conflicts feel forced and calculated (of all time, Mamiko choose she decided to tell her parents to quit college on that stormy night, and “she quited because it has to be now”. Why?). While the Mamiko act actually turns out pretty great, those issues speak to the lack of single unified theme that made the first season so tightly constructed. The last issue, which was also the show’s biggest flaw, lied in the fact that when they focus too much on one set of characters for the drama, other cast members unfortunately don’t have much roles so all they do is hanging around and making the best out of little screen time they had. Reina, before reaching her act, serves as a shadow behind Kumiko; Shuichi becomes the unluckiest guy in the world and worst of all, Hazuki and Sapphire don’t have any development anymore, given that they are still billed as the lead characters.

In contrast, if anything, this season will be remembered as the season of Kumiko and Asuka. They are the heart and the soul of this season, and it’s a blessing to see how far both of them have matured in the end. Asuka has been one of the most complex character in Sound Eupho’s universe and the show did a damn fine job to underline her struggles with both her parental figures, as well as gradually peeling off the mask to reveal her true feeling inside. The most brilliant part of it was that she never lose her strong side at all, never in many moments we are allowed to see her vulnerable side, because it’s more that she becomes honest to herself, embrace herself to what she loves most and comes out even stronger than before. In additions, most of Asuka and Kumiko moments develop into the highlights of the season. When Asuka played that Sound Euphonium piece to Kumiko in episode 9, it was one of the best moments of the whole show, period. When Kumiko poured her heart out to convince Asuka to come back to the band, it was one of the most effective drama the show could ever committed. As the two getting closer and more honest to each other, it makes a whole lot sense that we have that final confrontation between them that warmly tied up this whole season together. This show indeed ends on a high note.

Kumiko also deserved to be one of the year’s best character here as she has changed a lot from timid and passive with no real passion into the one who is really honest to what she feels. Aside from her interaction with Asuka, her moments with her sister, while soft and never overly dramatic like other acts, feel all too real ans intimate on how siblings care about each other. The last few episodes when we follow her through her quiet tears on the train, her outbursts, her confessions were a joy to watch and each step she made feel like a natural progression. I have to give extra gratitude Tomoyo Kurosawa, the saiyuu of Kumiko, for delivering such a deadpan, plain but strangely distinctive voice of our main girl.

But what make Sound Eupho stand head above the rest of the crop lies in its production values. That 10-minute performance in episode 5 simply outperformed everything else I watched in recent years. KyoAni’s always known for their gorgeous designs and their attentive to make every little detail right, but this is just another level of insanity the more you get to know what they achieved. Almost every performance you heard in the show was correctly timed to their single notes (meaning that if you hear the character hits the notes onscreen, they were the right notes), the position of their fingers, their postures, even down to the preparation of the members before hitting the notes, were all accurate. Now imagine all of these in animation with a band of thirty something characters for the whole two seasons. I can’t even think how on earth one could achieve animating all that, let alone making it all flawlessly. They even go as far as making the echo of the announcement on the firework scene in the first episode, because they wanted it to be real (the city Uji is surrounded by mountains). No, something as insane as this don’t happen often, especially on TV-anime level, so to see it finally at the end of its road suddenly make me feel a little sad.

This second season is indeed a worthy follow up to the Sound Eupho the series. Just a bit of note that the score I’m giving above is for this second season alone, if I have to give a score for the whole series it would be 93/100. Sound Eupho is an install classic and for me is up there as one of KyoAni’s best works to date. As of this writing right now, there is one more novel about our Kitauji school that is more of a collection of short stories (like the real reason Aoi quit the band, or the story of Shuichi finally confesses to Kumiko) so I think OVAs will be the most possible outcomes. Otherwise we have the spin-off novels that focus on Azusa (Kumiko’s childhood friend) and her Rikka high school marching band and for now I think there’s a high chance that in the future KyoAni will return back to that universe by adapting this spin-off. Well, they better adapt it, or on that note, why not adapting Haruhi season 3?

Posted on 31 December 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews

This series is, in retrospect, a really appropriate title that speaks to the very spirit of noitaminA block: an adult drama slice of life about the making of dictionary that surely don’t try to target the young audiences. Sound as dry as it is, Fune wo Amu’s actually one of the strongest noitaminA show come out for the last few years (not that the TV programming have been doing well to begin with). In Fune wo Amu, we follow Majime as he transferred to the dictionary department with the main mission is to publish a new dictionary called The Great Passage, along with the small team. That process, of course, taking time: 10 years, 20 years, you call it. The series is divided into 2 parts, the first follow him as he begins on the project and detailing how his normal workplace look like, the second part jumps 13 years later at their nearly-publishing phase. The decade-long efforts that he and the people he worked with delicate themselves in is something that you rarely seen in this anime medium.

I will be the first to admit that making dictionary doesn’t sound like an interesting subject matter to me, not because there isn’t anything great about it, but mainly because the subject will get dull very fast. But even I am surprised to say that the show keeps me hooked from start to finish. The tricks of how the show nailed it in making dictionary interesting are 1) the way the show managed to demonstrate how important dictionary is and 2) show us how those characters giving their all to make it possible and 3) point out to us the love for words and that each dictionary has, in fact, each own personality. For the first point, the show frames dictionary as the passage for everyone (not “everyone” everyone. Japanese people only) to communicate and connect to each other. Words are the way to express our thoughts, our feeling, so using the right words at the right time can make others understand the context completely. The Great Passage is one of a way to connect that gap between what we want to express and what we actually express, between one person to another. It is irony, but still fitting to that theme, that our main character Majime is a socially-awkward type. He has an extended knowledge about words, but he’s struggle to express what he wants to say. His love letter to Kaguya perfectly demonstrate his geeky nature, as even Kaguya herself can’t figure out it was a love letter, but being moved nonetheless.

But the beauty of dictionary means nothing if we don’t see the love and efforts of people behind it, and thanks god, this is where the show shines as well. Even in the wear-down corner of the otherwise-busy publisher, with so few people in it, it’s their passion to the project that counted the most. As in a line in La La Land (great film! Go watch it), people are enthusiasm about it because YOU are passionate about it. The love that you have can affect other people in the most positive ways. In the series, Nishioka, Majime’s co-worker, isn’t a type of person for this job. He’s socially active, care for others but never really interested in words. Through Majime’s passion though, he started to feel the joy of his works and committed himself fully to make The Great Passage the reality. Other characters, Mr. Araki and Mr. Matsumoto, we can feel their whole lives devoted in words, their meaning and they’re damn proud of what they’ve achieved. Last but not lease, the show successfully depicts dictionary as a creation, something akin to the work of arts. To be fair, think of it that way make the whole process makes much more sense too. The Great Passage is a brainchild of all the people behind the project, so everything has to be perfect, from the selection of words that eventually appear in the dictionary, the description process, down to how to choose designs, mascots and even page’s quality that best represent the personality of The Great Passage. That lead us to the painstaking task but ultimately rewarding of double-checking every single entry to see if there are any words missing. As the tasks done, the team (and ultimately, us) feel relieved that The Great Passage going to be a masterpiece.

Fune wo Amu, moreover, isn’t simply about dictionary-making process, it’s the show about people, too. As with the nature of dictionary, it’s a desire for connection that brings those people together. In the show, we witness how Majime and Nishioka, as vastly different as they are, can really bring the best out of each other. We can also follow Majime and his love affair, as quiet and poetic as it is, this is for me one of the best depiction of romance that I’ve seen so far for the last few years. The romance speaks to me because it grounded to reality, it’s beautiful because it is quiet, and isn’t it the best kind of relationship when you regard your spouse as a partner for life (well, for me it is). Even the new girl Midori fits into that pattern as well. Her struggle from being forced to transfer to the department that she had no idea of (you might not know but this happened regularly in Asian culture, especially 20,30 years ago, but I still have no idea why Nishioka had to hide his relationship with his co-worker partner), we see her from being distressed about the new workplace, come to really appreciate and love her job is nothing but a rewarding experience. Every one of the cast have their own different traits and characteristics, and that precisely the point that the dictionary (and the show by that extend) need all of their diverse voice in order to become multi-layered production.

If anything, the passage of time is the show’s main theme as it lingers in various forms throughout the show. The sudden time-skip, for example, signals us how everything is supposed to change (it’s 13 years for Peter sake), and yes, we can see there are some minor changes from the settings and the characters. But the sameness from the dictionary department’s office really tell us that in the room, time flows slowly; and really, that amount of time spent for making dictionary is nothing compare to how the dictionary might flourish for generations to come. In that 13-year gap, people leave, new people come in, it’s that cycle of life that make the show timelessness. Furthermore, Mr. Matsumoto unfortunate leaves us at the end of the show, but we know full well that the old plants gone in order for the new plants to blossom. Through every change, the words inside the dictionary will continue to live on and connect more and more people together as time goes on.

The show, although very well-pace, still has some flaws too. The subject matter is decidedly niche that unfortunately it will fly below the normal viewer’s radar. The passing away of Mr. Matsumoto before the time of the publishing is a tired cliché that for me bring an unnecessary regret to Majime. The animation as a whole, while serviceable enough and really don’t have many high actions, still a bit below par compared to your regular anime. Although we have a big time-jump, if the series meant to highlight the progression of making The Great Passage and the life of our main characters, I would’ve much preferred if they show us instead how they were doing along the way. I want to follow their journey from beginning to end (not the beginning and the end), and I don’t care one iota if they’ll successfully publish it or not, what I want is the ride to get there.

To sum up, Fune wo Amu, along with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, are the titles that I’m really glad they are made after all. The older I get, the more I’m wearing off at high school comedy anime and high action anime, the more these titles speak to me on a personal level. I’m really glad anime still have platforms like this, the show that tripped out all the spectacular over the top visuals to instead telling the story it wants to tell. What we have in the end might seem nothing much plot-wise, but the sophistication behind the story and the love that the people behind it put into are something that I will remember fondly.

CHANGE USERNAME
AidanAK47
@Mario, TV Diana has some charm points but I think OVA Diana provided a better dynamic. I mean sure, She was essentially female Draco Malfoy but her attitude made reveals like her being a secret Chariot fan more impactful. Plus her tsundere act torwards Akko was rather adorable.
SuperMario
about LWA again, unlike Aidan I actually enjoy this version of Diana. I know she's one note, too perfect but she's charming. Too charming haha which serves well as a contrast to Akko
SuperMario
...just pop one random film from him. His films are not without its bad side thou, in particular I find the dialogues shapeless and dragging. But well it does add to the naturalness of his films
KTravlos
on LWA I would also recommended it. It is a fluffy show, with a sense of wonder. Some episodes are better, some are more flat, and the over-arching storyline leaves me bored. But it does have that sense of childlike wonder, which I had missed among all the "grim" shows.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I have a bit of problems with Korean movies lately as now they're heavily thriller style-over-substance films, so films that have very simple style like Hong-Sang-Soo's joints are the welcome change of air. One thing about his films thou, If you watched one of his film, you've watched them all. They're so similar in tones and concepts that I reckon if you feel like watching his films...
SuperMario
So I say it's still worth finishing. It's good but I don't feel the sparks that made it so great from the OVAs anymore
SuperMario
@Lenlo: about LWA. Plus side: Those hijinks. I mean the show is fun and magical. Negative side: I wish the show's storytelling is a bit tighter, each episode feels so loose it doesn't add up much and more like different variations of Akko + one member of the cast's hijink. Doesn't help either that the other casts just disappeared until they have an episode for 2 for themselves
SuperMario
@Anon1113829: I "enjoyed" Beyond the Boundary, but that show was a mess. The episode 10 was stand out for me, and the ending was kinda... a wreck. Certainly interesting but quality-wise I wouldn't reccommend it
Anonymous1113829
@SuperMario KyoAni fan? What did you think of Kyoukai no Kanata? I really wanted to like it, I thought it had some potential, but IMO nothing worked right.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, It's good. Fun to watch certainly. Though sadly it falls short of being great.
Lenlo
So question: Is Little Witch Academia worth finishing atm? I started it last season, but for some reason it just fell off my radar
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Thankfully, while not entirely satisfying, day he arrives is just the Korean film I've been looking for, refreshingly more low key, quieter and I enjoyed the new wavy combined with raw style, making it all feel very natural.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Well then, thanks for the rec on Hong-sang-so, I looked at The day he arrives. Y'know the reason I sometimes dread going into films featuring romance is because I'm conditioned from seeing the bad ones.
Kaiser-Eoghan
....I may actually read this, the last time I read a manga steeped in politics was Sanctuary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle:_The_Making_of_an_Asian-American_President
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I actually have very limited experience with Ellis as a comic book writer, only read Transmetropolitan, I know he's writing the Castlevania adaptation.
SuperMario
@Aidan: I heard the same thing; can't help being a completist though so I'll eventually get to them
AidanAK47
@Mario, From what I heard, it doesn't get better.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: that scene from the 1st episode of Phantom world lost me... but even then I'm willing to give the show another chance. That's how far I would go ^^ https://mobile.twitter.com/aaapodcast/status/687148875052892160/photo/2
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, Looks like they are putting some real effort into it. May actually turn out pretty good after all.
@K-Off, Under the Red hood is a damn fine movie. Likely one of the best of the DC animated universe. Though try Superman vs the elite out. It's pretty good.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Even phantom world Mario...even phantom world ? =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
Just the teaser trailer, not much to go on, but heres a short preview of that netflix castlevania thing that got mentioned on here a while back, up the quality to 360p:
SuperMario
At this stage, I'm pretty much KyoAni fanboy now so with every new material, I'll hype it up to the sky ^^
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I did follow it up with The spy who loved me though to cheer myself up =P Given that Rodger Moore just died =)
SuperMario
@Kaiser: just looked through what Short Men Behind the Sun is about: "human experiments carried out by Japanese army during WW2?" Already sound grim and too real. Then "a graphic depiction of the human experiments" haha no wonder you felt unsettled Kaiser
VyseLegendaire
My favorite Exploitation Flick is An Inconvenient Truth 2.0
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Long story short men behind the sun is finally the exploitation flick that defeated me and actually made me unsettled.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I remember you talking about how Salo really affected you as an exploitation film, generally exploitation films don't shock or disturb me, but I just watched the cantonese dubbed version of Men behind the sun.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And the worst thing about beyond the boundry and phantom world, it discolours my opinion of kyoani as a whole, making me negatively reflect on older work they did .
AidanAK47
Yep, that's the new KyoAni one. Like Puran I don't have any expectations of it. The premise certainly seems like the closest they have come to breaking out of there usual format but I am sure they will find a way to shove in Moe antics. Though based on what is seen so far it looks like they are trying to emulate Key.
Puran
Is that a new KyoAni anime?.. I have lost faith in them a long time ago. Last Anime from them that I cared about was probably Hyouka
SuperMario
Bring you some news, Violet Evergarden will be aired as an anime TV. Though many sources saying it gonna air this year, it has a better possibility to air next year
SuperMario
Well, aesthetically, he's pretty much on par with Yang and Wong. It's just that his films are often emotionally distant, feel more like watching the paint dry hahaa
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I connect more emotionally with Yang and Wong.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I went in expecting Edward Yang and Kar-wong-wai levels of quality, which may have been quite unfair standards to put him up against.
SuperMario
I myself find his films difficult to watch, but when the films end they usually hold up very very well. Both The Assassin and 3 Times in particular are my favorite of the year
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I completely understand your reaction because his films are demanding as hell. I remembered watching The Assassin in big screen, 3 people next to me fall asleep, one of them snoring and the other one fall asleep within the first 10 mins. That Hou Hsiao's movies for you
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its such a shame because he makes gorgeous cinema and City of sadness is actually pretty informative account of the times....I just can't jive with him and I actually like "slow cinema" but watching his work is insanity inducingly boring for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: ....I'm really sorry, I don't mind long slow even spiritual, talky, non-narrative, old, complex,meditative , art films but I'm really really finding it hard to watch Hou Hsiao's work, I've tried time to live and the Assassin and I just bailed after 2 out of 3 hours on city of sadness.
KTravlos
I have to say Akko is developing nicely as a character in LWA. Also Magane in Re:Creators reminds me of Hannibal as palyed by Mads Mikkelsen. There is that same est for life married to sociopath that is a bit charming :) Mamika's character is also just cool. Beyond that AofT and Bahamut both delivered competent episodes, with Bahamut a good mix between comedy and tragedy.
K-Off
@Aidan Assault on Arkham was fantastic. Between that and Under the Red Hood, a classic.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I have a lot to say in this week's Eccentric Family. Review will come up later tonight when I get back home from work.
AidanAK47
Seen Assault on Arkham or what it should be called, The animated Suicide Squad movie. Thinking of checking out Dark.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Have you seen assault on Arkham or the justice league dark film?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: It isn't so much because its Talia x Batman, moreso that it feels odd shipping Batman with anyone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
While kind of amusing, initially I wasn't too into Uchouten this week, the hot spring part got me groaning, but then someway through dramatically it really picked up.
Kaiser-Eoghan
From reading comics a few years back, I still feel that they adapt better to animation.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: And I say this as someone who was able to defend Alien 3 and Ressurection.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Covenent felt like an Infantilized version of Alien.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wouldn't call either John Wick film or free fire amazing or anything but they had great fight scenes that were actually visually coherent , of course they weren't given a proper release.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not watching/paying for anymore of these reboots/remakes/shakey cam pg rated action films anymore. I'll stick with my balls to the wall Hong-Kong/Chinese ones.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: It also had really uneven pacing aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: ....The dialogue is so embarassing, they don't do enough with this backstory, they just keep teasing, none of the new characters have the same charisma , the editting in the action scenes shakes all overtheplace.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: I gave Covenent a fair chance, I thought it would be an exception to the reboot thing. I'll admit theres the sets, the atmosphere, Fassbenders performance , the idea to expand on the franchises mythos is cool but....
Kaiser-Eoghan
It really really hurts as a film fan, trying to find older, genuinely quality foreign films , finding that no-one is seeding them and theres no proper/in print dvd release anymore. Then finding some awful shakey cam modern American superhero film with billions of seeds and a bluray release.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, I don't know. Todd was more the imperfect son always aiming for batmans approval. Damian is more an assasin wondering why the hell he can't just kill his enemies. I hear that Comic Damian works better than Animated Damian. I do think that if given a personality he could work but as he is currently you are right that he's essentially a mishmash of past robins.
Vonter
I watched Alien Covenant and I don't know if it improves by being more dumb and less pretentious or if it os the final nail in the Alien franchise coffin. Not since the StarWats prequels there has been a retcon that changes your view of the original movies.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can recall enjoying a certain Jason Todd centered story called Batman:death in the family.
K-Off
Well, even when Damian does completely cross the line and become a villain, he's not even that interesting, i.e Injustice. Yup, Jason Todd already covered everything, but better.
AidanAK47
Problem is that he's an edge lord cocky piece of shit that just doesn't have enough likeable traits for this to be compelling. What really pushed him over the edge was mocking Nightwing over his parents deaths. That shit is not on.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, I like the contrast that Batman refuses to cross the line and kill but Damian has crossed that line. As well as his potentail to become a villain. Tim and Dick didn't really have that though Jason sort of did. Damian's arc is more about teaching him the morality of a hero.
K-Off
@Aidan I'm not sure I like Damian's concept to begin with. The Bat-son dilemma's inherently addressed by the Robins for all intents and purposes. Damian just goes through the same motion, only difference being he's biologically related.
K-Off
Yup. Wonderwoman either doesn't need to have a love interest, or it needs to be with Steve Trevor, the two have a solid backstory that the movies unnecessarily removed.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, I don't mind the Taila X batman pairing. Makes more sense than Batman and Batgirl. But if there's one pairing pushed in the new movies that I just find wrong is the Superman X wonder woman. I just don't get that one.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, I like the concept of Damian as a character. But it's executed so badly.
Anonymous1105941
Teen titans needs one more season to wrap up all the loose ends. Such as what happens to Slade, and Blackfires revenge. The creators clearly wanted to explore those plot lines but got cut short.
K-Off
Teen Titans hasn't aged very well, but one thing I still do like about it is how contained and local the setting and cast were for the first half of that show. When godly superpowers are involved, that appeals to me. Much of the same reason why I like Logan and Raimi's Spiderman so much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Very rarely watched teen titans when I was younger, I was vaguely interested in slade, stopped watching around when Terra appeared. I actively avoided comics where Damien appeared, never liked that Talia x Batman pairing much, I can only imagine how much worse it is to listen to Damien than read him.
K-Off
@Aidan, I like some aspects of those movies, but I'm not a big fan of the new continuity and art style in general...and yeah it doesn't help that Damian is irredeemably unlikable.
AidanAK47
@K-Off, There is also the DC animated Teen Titans movies like Teen Titans vs Justice Leage and Teen titans the Judus contract. Though it's not the same as the the TV series and Damian is such a dick.
K-Off
@Anon I don't think Teen Titans needs another season. The last season wasn't that good, but the movie ended the series on a high note and Young Justice pretty much rebooted everything, at least in terms of replacing people's want for a more mature DC cartoon about the Titans.
K-Off
Yeah it's become more of a hassel (for myself and my friends) to set aside time to go to a theater.
SuperMario
I guess in the end it all comes down to how easily it reaches the viewers. Give us a hard time and we don't give a damn to check the new movie/show out
SuperMario
... otherwise have to wait for a year, even more before it reaches Australia. But many companies will raise in the wake of Netflix and that will be where problems arise
SuperMario
This trend isn't happening within the anime industry, but it's happening in the movie world as well. In the past 2 years, Netflix starts to exclusively distribute many films, meaning that they won't have theatrical release, but straight to Video on Demand which caused quite a stir in the industry. Personally, I actually don't have much problem with it as now I will get a chance to see a film that
SuperMario
Dive!! , a series that will air next season on noitaminA slot will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Not that I'm eagerly looking forward to Dive, but that news again makes me frustrated. No one will watch it and then all the hypes it might have will die down eventually.
Anonymous1105394
Considering I didn't even expect a season 5 it's more than I could've evr wanted. Now if only if only Teen Titans could get the same chance.
Lenlo
Oh yeah, it turned out well. Didnt mean to say it didnt.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Considering that the ratio of great to alright episodes is 8 to 2 I say that it turned out pretty well.
Lenlo
I have to say, the Samurai Jack season started stronger than it ended imo
AidanAK47
So this is how Samurai Jack ends. 16 years in the making. Honestly considering how much needed to get wrapped up I knew the ending would be a bit flawed. Really think Gen should have givin it one more episode to flesh out the ending and then it wouldn't feel so rushed. Overall despite it's flaws, it's a decent ending. Not prefect by any means but it will do the job.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lol theres a surprise, seriously, Black Lagoons manga is updating again.
KTravlos
worst recap ever for me? Gangsta. That was a stupid recap episode. Really like a Public Announcement. Useless, stupid, and ruining atmosphere. Utter stupidity. There I got it our of me :p
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Masky: Unfortunately too far behind in the sequel manga to catch up, I did take a look at THAT in the latest chapter though.
Masky
Huh, for some reason thought Tokyo Ghoul was under shonen when its seinen. Welp now that makes more sense, I was thinking story about cannibalism would be kinda absurd for shonen.
Spike
They serve no purpose except to fill airtime when production gets fucked up. They have 2 bad choices - run a recap or run an unfinished episode. Recap is generally the less dogshit choice. I've seen a few anime that ran the episodes with unfinished animations and still frames.... the backlash was about 100x what a recap is.
SuperMario
I'm about to say that to you as well Kaiser, maybe watch the recap and then continue on. The only thing I kind of take from the recap episode is the editting: how they chop off the fat of 6 episodes to still give you important developments. But as a way to catch up/ to reintroduce the series, it's freaking useless
Anonymous1104087
I don't think anyone should start from the recap episode. Unless there was a long hiatus, a recap in between episodes is unnecessary for new viewers and old
Lenlo
I mean, aside from whatever happens with Mugaro.
Lenlo
Next episode seems early, out of 24 episodes, for Nina to learn the Prince is Chris, yet that seems to be what the confrontation is leading towards, and then she freaks out and he learns shes the dragon. Becomes the conflict for the rest of the season?
Lenlo
Seems I was right, Azazel didnt predict that Nina might not be so easily riled up as she once was. To bad so sad Azazel, she has someone she loves now.
Kaiser-Eoghan
How useful are these recap episodes anyway/actually? Hypothetically lets say I was feeling lazy and decided to watch tsuki ga kirei starting from the recap episode.
Kaiser-Eoghan
[link src="https://www.anirena.com/?s=blame

http://anilinkz.io/blame-movie"]
Lenlo
So long as there are consequences for how hes acting, then I am ok with it. I just dont want him to turn into some MC hero when hes acting like this.
AidanAK47
And in Re:Creators Sota is still being a goddamn pussy. Now that the exposition has gone down I am really starting to hate this kid.
SuperMario
It's the presentation that they differ. Ghost Hound focuses more on the atmosphere, so those details I mentioned before work for their benefits; whereas Sagrada Reset focus on plots (and confusing themes) so those stick out like sore thumb.
SuperMario
4 episodes into Ghost Hound so far. This show also reminds me a bit of Sagrada Reset this season- the way they both emotional distant, complex plots; keep viewers away at arm's length, and feature characters that have robotic facial expressions. Yet I enjoyed Ghost Hound so far and couldn't engage in Sagrada Reset at all.
SuperMario
@Spike: I was like... "tsuki ga kirei has a recap episode, so let's move on to Kado"... another recap. Tsuki ga kirei I'm not too worry as it confirmed that it'll have 12 episodes, but I'm not confident on Kado
SuperMario
@lenlo: in a sense you have to suffer it all alone. No worries thou as I intend to binge watch it when this season's over
Spike
Kado team crumbled under the pressure. Recap this week.
Lenlo
@SuperMario, im happy I dont have to compete with anyone to cover Berserk :P Got it all to myself to whine about, though its been ever so slowly improving.
Anonymous1100725
Ranka is ranka in any verse.
Anonymous1100725
Bahmut no spoilers. Ranka Lee. She just doesn't get it so everyone dies. As she stands around wondering.
SuperMario
In fact, Okja will play in the Sydney film festival next month, but seeing that it will stream in Netflix at the end of June I think it's best to wait until then
SuperMario
@Kaiser: great, I'm super hyped to watch Okja. Always enjoy Boon's movies. The critic's reviews from Cannes on Okja should come up soon I believe.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I watched Lain many times over as well but I'm sure that I didn't pick up everything. That show required multiple-viewing anyways.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Good news, netflix will stream Okja at the end of this June.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its not often that I rewatch things, but years ago I've seen Lain at least three times, its also one of those few anime series where I felt to look up deeper analysis into it. It had a tremendous atmosphere and was ahead of its time.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: watching Ghost Hound made me want to revisit Serial Experiment Lain and give my episodic thoughts on that. Not gonna happen soon as I have my hand full right now but I swear I'll get to that one day.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I actually am planning to rewatch ghost hound soon, so I'll give you my new thoughts on it then.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I always avoided Altair mostly based on it being a shounen action series. Kakeguruis premise involves gambling games, which I don't find interesting.
KTravlos
Kakegurui is on my list. I thought it would be crap (terrible setting etc), but the manga won me over. Princess Principal will be given a chance, so will Shoukouko no Altair.and perhaps Reflection. We shall see. Also Twilight Axis Gundam, as I love the manga team.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Recap episodes exist because of production troubles. Sometimes shit happens when you make an anime.
You are being a bit overally argressive but I do agree with the statement that Ntr is pathetic power fantasy. It really is.
Anonymous1099236
Ntr is a pathetic power fantasy for pathetic people
Anonymous1099236
Why the hell do recap episodes exist. Do they think we're that autistic
SuperMario
I honestly don't even what NTR is so I had to look it up. Interesting
SuperMario
Just a quick remaider that Tsuki ga Kirei has a recap episode this week. And yep, after watching this week's Sakura Quest I think I'm gonna stick with it
SuperMario
Flipping through the list, I'm also pretty know what I'm interested in, most of them are original anime, which is a plus
SuperMario
@Aidan: I'm still amazed that us never have to fight over covering shows, except for that one time with Flip Flappers. Always thought that crappy tastes are the same
Kaiser-Eoghan
*Those two comments were refering to NTR trap
Kaiser-Eoghan
I would really genuinely like to see some of these smut manga actually functionally use fanservice and romantic sex scenes rather than just cheap titilattion
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Poorly done ragey drama with bad comedy bits , I've reached a point with it where I no longer want my time wasted by it.
AidanAK47
@Mario, I admit to having passing interest in Princess Principal but not enough to fight you over it.
And Tsurezure Children is actually really really good. Really fluffy love stories with great comedy.
SuperMario
haha, even me who love slice-of-life won't fall for Tsurezure Children
SuperMario
@Aidan: Princess Principal
SuperMario
@Kaiser: The character designs on Centaur kind of weirds me out though
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, Ugh...that one. Imagine a discount scums wish and you get the general idea.
AidanAK47
Mate if you are talking about Fate then let me say there is no way in hell I am not covering that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
NTR as the title of an anime? How shameless.
AidanAK47
@Mario,....Tsurezure Children?
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised by centaur no nanami's manga. Actually cares about its setting and genuinely charming characters.
SuperMario
@Aidan: and this time there is 1 show we might both want to cover ^^
AidanAK47
I will have to start writing up that preview for this. I think it's pretty obvious what I am looking forward the most to watching.
AidanAK47
Links generally work with text if you place them at the end of it. Like so:
http://anichart.net/Summer-2017
Kaiser-Eoghan
[link src="http://anichart.net/Summer-2017
I....I"] might at least try the Vatican kiseki one and centaur no nanami...
AidanAK47
@Anon, Don't believe Clickbait. This is all based on a quote from the author thanking the animation studio and hoping for an opportunity to work with them in the future. What this confirms is that there is no plans for a season 3...yet. Could very well happen in the future. What this confirms is that it ain't happening any time soon.
Puran
Natsume is killing it this season.
Anonymous1094513
RIP Konosuba. Season 3 confirmed to not happen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PvOmsKjcJU.
Lenlo
Im not sure what they are even saying.
Anonymous1092432
lmao Anon 250 got rekt
AidanAK47
Normally I would delete openly offensive posts but seeing as these don't make enough sense to be offensive I will give them a free pass.
AidanAK47
No idea who this Adnan guy is but if he watches gay porn then so what?
Anonymous1092250
adnan watches gay porn
Anonymous1092250
people who watch one piece are just watching gay porn
Anonymous1092250
one piece of shit
SuperMario
Hey, do you guys know about wanna cry ransomware? how's the heck that I just aware of its existence today? Scary@@
Lenlo
Haha will do, but im not gonna compete outside a local, maybe regional level, not anymore. I mostly want to get back into my old shape after 2 years of letting it lapse.
Total users: 21

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