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  • Space Patrol Luluco episodes 4 & 5 turn the story much more interesting.

    Watched HaiFuri episode 3. I find that although I like the show, I can only watch one episode at a time because, so far, the episodes are so redundant.

    Flying Witch episode 4 is very cute, and its background art is amazingly beautiful. Episode 5 is pleasant but a bit less interesting.

    Watched Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou episodes 3 & 4. I really enjoy the good-natured optimism of this show.

    Watched Pan de Peace episodes 3-5.

    Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 41 and the fun episode 42.

    Watched Kuma Miko episode 5 and the oddly strange yet funny episode 6.

    Joker Game episode 5 is a tense and intriguing episode.

    Koutetsujou no Kabaneri episode 4 isn't always spectacularly animated, but it has it when it counts, and the episode is the most intense so far.

    Re:Zero episode 4 is a bit of a breather after the pace and content of the prior three episodes.

    Bakuon episode 6 had some nice moments. The principal shaking Raimu was exceptionally well animated. And the scene when Onsa's bike hit the redline was quite fun.

    Watched the short first episode of the new Tsubasa to Hotaru TV series.

    The short summary is that the Project Itoh adaptation film Harmony is terrible. For a longer, more detailed critique, read on. The Project Itoh film adaptation Empire of Corpses was rather bloated yet half-baked and quite pretentious. The second film adaptation of Project Itoh novels, Harmony, is actually an even more difficult film to like because it has a story with intriguing potential, yet the narrative doesn’t bother to concentrate on its most compelling aspects. The film revolves around an overgrown adolescent who philosophically rejects her futuristic utopian society for being too “nice,” too considerate, too compassionate. Even though the protagonist is a young adult woman, she still has the stunted psychological world-view of an angst-ridden teenager who rebels at the status quo not because the status quo is good or bad but simply because her equally narrow-minded old high school friend told her that she should hate the status quo. Tuan, the film’'s protagonist, hates the intrusive kindness of others and the peacefulness of society, yet she also struggles to avoid conflict and battle. She clings to a sense of guilt over her inability to kill herself, but she also never had any personal reason to commit suicide. In effect, the movie tries very hard to compel viewers to sympathize with a character whose perspective is shortsighted, thoughtless, inconsistent, contradictory, and petulantly childish. Tuan is described as highly intelligent, yet she clings to an irrational, childish mindset that she adopted from another short-sighted character, and she refuses to grow up and think for herself. Antagonist Miach’s philosophy is actually anti-intellectual. She believes that humans need to suffer fear, anxiety, and violence. Period. There'’s no explanation for why or what benefit lies in experiencing pain. Seemingly Miach simply hates tranquility and happiness, and no one else in the film calls her out for clinging to a pointless, destructive ideology. The end of the film does temper and try to explain Miach's motivation, but by then even Tuan seems to realize how stupid, pointless and limited Miach's plan is. In fact, the whole movie demands that viewers just accept its one-sided, reductive logic and treat that logic as if it was brilliant insight. An example is a discussion about the inherent human flaw of valuing immediate gratification. The example the film uses, accepting 10,000 now rather than 20,000 later, totally ignores relevant surrounding circumstances like the need to provide for daily sustenance and the uncertainty of a distant future. What the film presents as a philosophical truism is actually just over-simplification of a complex dilemma to make a dumb film seem smart. Another example is the same conversation arguing that the conscious awareness of pain is a deliberate but unconscious choice. However, the discussion in the film leaves out the fact that its example only applies in limited circumstances. If a pain is caused by a major, traumatic injury, the response to the pain is not determined by unconscious choice but rather by survival instinct. However, the film leaves out that fact to make its claim seem more valid than it actually is. Just because characters throw out terminology like "genetic programming" and speak in heavy, serious tones doesn'’t make their statements logical or rationally sound. None of the characters in the film provide any explanation or justification for their theories. Viewers are just supposed to assume that the dialogue and theories in the film are smart because they sound smart. But the theories and prognostications in the film aren’t smart; they’re very simplistic and stupid. Having a utopian society in which everyone is kindhearted and happy and war and disease have been eliminated is bad, the film says. Why is it bad? The movie has no answer, although there are plenty of interesting moral responses that the film could debate but doesn’t, like natural selection and free will. Later in the film the dialogue literally illustrates how self-contradictory and outright dumb the conflict is: “They formed... with the goal of recreating global chaos akin to the Great Calamity. In other words, it's to prevent a catastrophe.” And the ending of the film is still more idiotic.
    Furthermore, the film is rather ugly in a bland, sterile way. Because the film is partially animated via CG, characters have little or no lighting effects or shadows, and backgrounds are simple and nearly monocolor. The effect is a film with a stylistically boring visual palate.

    Watched the first two episodes of Archer season 7.

    Caught up on SHIELD episodes 17 & 18. I do appreciate the way the story is seemingly wrapping up the Hydra threat while introducing the seemingly more threatening inhumans. But with yet another character betraying the team, I can't help feeling that the series is also getting a bit hokey.

    Watched Daredevil season 2 episodes 5. The TV series Elektra seems wildly different in personality than the Elektra I remember from the Elektra: Assassin, Elektra Saga, and Marvel Knights Elektra comics.

    With a desperate hope of uncovering some overlooked gem, I watched the 2014 retro zombie film Bombshell Bloodbath. I shouldn’t have bothered. To its credit, the movie does re-capture the visual aesthetic of early 80’s zombie films, and its soundtrack is a commendable riff on Claudio Simonetti. However, unlike conventional movies that begin with a script, this film feels like it began life with a list of available resources then had a film built around the availability of its cast and props. The movie comes very close to existing as a collection of sequential scenes with the barest thread of continuity sewing them together. Most of the cast is entirely one-dimensional. The characters who aren’t flat are wildly schizophrenic. The story can’t find its focus or even its protagonist. Unexpectedly, I can’t even call the movie a “zombie apocalypse” film because the climax of the movie explains that ultimately the humans win, so the film is actually a “zombie annoyance” film rather than a “zombie apocalypse” film. Even worse, the climax of the film reveals that the entire movie is actually just back-story to a more exciting and intense story which the filmmakers presumably didn’t have the resources to depict. The flick does include some commendable low-budget splatter effects, but gore shots are few and far between. Die hard giallo and gutmuncher movie enthusiasts may get some perverted pleasure out of examining the movie’s efforts to homage the tropes and phantasmagoric scenes of vintage Italian horrors, but typical viewers aren’t likely to find much of anything satisfying in the movie.

    Writer/director Kerry Prior’s 2009 horror dramedy The Revenant distinctly reminds me of Leif Jonker's Darkness and Scooter McCrae’s Shatter Dead in the regard that it’s a film desperately in search of a remake. Prior’s film is a commendable effort, but it’s unnecessarily long, hamstrung by a limited budget, and moreover weakened by competent but very pedestrian direction. The movie clearly wants to be, and has the potential to be the horror version of The Boondock Saints. But while the film certainly has all of the right ingredients, it lacks spice. The film plods along and frequently exhibits the spark of greatness, but the movie just doesn’t have the resources or the potential to cross over into brilliance. It’s never quite outrageous or grotesque or snappy or charming or suspenseful enough. The film does try, yet it still lacks tone and atmosphere that would naturally come from a more experienced and talented director. The concept, a vampire take on The Boondock Saints, has the potential for cult affection, but to achieve that audience the film needs a degree of style and polish that’s simply beyond the means of the 2009 low-budget production.

    At least among people that keep up to date with movie news and rumors, there’s no need for a spoiler warning about Avengers 2.5, er, Captain America: Civil War, because there are no significant surprises in the movie. That ‘s not to say that the film isn’t good, however. In fact, the movie is very good, arguably excellent, and certainly an antidote for everything that Dawn of Justice did wrong. However, in terms of continuity, one element did bother me. MCU is in continuity with Agents of SHIELD, yet Winter Soldier had his super high-tech cybernetic arm in 1991, yet in 2014 the Deathlok cybernetic technology is considered cutting edge technology.
    Last edited by John; May 10th, 2016, 11:54 PM.

    Comment


    • Sansha Sanyou episode 5 is cute. The editing of episode 6 felt a bit rushed, giving the whole episode a disjointed feel and pace.

      Watched Joker Game episodes 6 & 7.

      Watched Re:Zero episode 6.

      Watched Koutetsujou no Kabaneri episodes 5 & 6. After the intriguing episode 5, I'm a little bit disappointed that the conflict gets resolved so amicably and quickly in episode 6.

      Watched Kuromukuro episode 5, the very fulfilling episode 6, and episode 7.

      Watched Sakamoto Desu ga episodes 2-5.

      Watched the last episode of Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara.

      Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 43.

      Watched Flying Witch episode 6.

      Since they're now available translated, I re-watched the first two episodes of Rilu Rilu Fairilu then continued up to the fifth episode.

      I was a little disappointed that Bakuon episode 7 felt so normal when it had free reign to go a bit over the top.

      Watched Kuma Miko episode 7.

      The Boruto movie works but has one major weakness. The movie is evidently the introduction to Boruto Uzumaki. The kid has a rounded, complex personality, but until the resolution of the film he has no obvious commendable personality traits. He’s a spoiled brat: believable and not a bad kid at heart but without any characteristics that immediately make viewers root for him the way viewers immediately empathized with Naruto years earlier. In fact, the most enjoyable scenes of the movie are consistently those featuring the original generation cast rather than their children. The movie does definitely suggest that it could develop its new younger cast, and that future films starring the next generation will likely be more affecting and engaging. But this particular film simply introduces Boruto when he’s at a very immature and not especially likeable phase of his childhood.

      I watched the Naruto Shippuden: Blood Prison movie because it’s the only Shippuden movie that I hadn’t gotten around to watching. It’s further proof that the Shippuden series movies typically aren’t good. The film requires absolutely massive aggregations of suspension of disbelief. Multiple characters shrug off massive mortal wounds that should logically cause instant death even to superhumanly durable anime characters. The movie literally forgets to deal with three of its four primary villains. The film distinctly explains what the “Houka Tenrou” technique is not but forgets to clarify what the technique is. The movie takes great effort to describe Satori as a massively devastating ultimate and unstoppable weapon, yet Naruto and his friends seem to stop the thing pretty easily. All of the prisoners are ninja, yet when all of them have the opportunity to use their ninja techniques, not a single one of them does, which makes no sense at all.

      Despite being an anthology film, the Go! Princess Precure movie is one of the better Pretty Cure feature films for a few reasons. The “Pumpkin Oukoku no Takaramono” segment is concise and moreover includes several scenes of very fluid and elaborate animation. The Precure franchise has spent so many years perfecting its CG modeling that it finally looks cute rather than ugly or artificial. So the “Precure to Leffy no Wonder Night” segment in particular has a lovely visual and color design, and its particularly cartoonish reactions and movement gags are full of character and help make the short film very fun despite a rather abbreviated climax.

      Caught up on Super Zero comic book issues 2-5. I was tentative early on, but issue 5 convinced me that writers Conner & Palmiotti are simply taking advantage of their opportunity with an indie publisher to take their time developing their story. Issue 5 has me very curious to see how the story will continue to unfold. The first issue of Aliens: Defiance feels strikingly reminiscent of Avatar and arguably moves a bit too quickly but is still a good example of why Aliens comics deserve to exist in spite of so many terrible iterations. Read WicDiv issue 19. The Discipline issue 3 distinctly feels like it's trying to squeeze just a little bit too much narrative into a single issue because the issue feels a bit jumpy and incoherent. The first issue of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is oddly well-written yet doesn't feel natural or realistic at all. Read the fourth issue of the Interceptor comic series. The eighth issue Alan Moore's Providence feels much less like it's contributing to the story and much more like it's just Moore indulging his own interests with little regard for the reader. Read Public Realations issues 6 & 7. Read Dark Knight III issue 4. The issue, and the series, has some intriguing points, but the larger bulk of it really just seems sloppy and undercooked.

      After the subsequent issues of the Batman/TMNT comic mini-series kept getting better and better, I was disappointed that the concluding sixth issue feels so safe and predictable. The issue is filled with deus ex machina-style fortunate coincidences that allow everything to wrap up quickly and neatly, so while the prior issues felt unpredictable and thrilling, the concluding issue feels very rushed and artificially scripted. I didn’t purchase the first issue of writers Jennifer Van Gessel & El Torres’ comic mini-series Unleash because it had a lot of investment speculation buzz. I purchased it because I was curious to read it. The comic did turn out to be an interesting read, but not in a good way. The comic is the worst kind of shock value kitsch. The comic presents a very repellant scenario deliberately designed to provoke criticism and controversy, yet the comic is very careful to exclude any nudity or violence. In effect, the comic is cautious to stir up controversy that will lure in readers yet careful not to go too far and potentially discourage readers or shrink its potential audience. The first issue doesn’t feel like it has anything to say about its moral conflict, nor is it satirizing its extremes; it’s just blatant shock value as a cash grab. The first issue of Divinity II is intriguing although it benefits tremendously from the back story and nuance already provided by the prior mini-series. I’m a little bit disappointed that the fourth issue of Tomboy time skips ahead by several months. The book does explain the interim, but I would have liked to have seen the span of time and felt the madness and terror grow naturally rather than just have it explained in off-handed exposition. However, the fourth issue does finally delve deeply into the grotesque horror that the series has promised from the outset. I think I like the second issue of The Fix more than the first because the second issue feels more natural and effortless than the first issue which felt like it was trying just a bit too hard to be provocative, satirical, and funny.

      The 2013 “body snatchers” style horror film Almost Human is far from the worst indie movie I’ve ever watched, but regrettably it’s somewhat hamstrung by its very limited budget and moreover offers absolutely nothing that horror movie fans haven’t seen countless times before in other, better films. The movie strictly adheres to typical horror movie conventions, right down to even the cliché stupid horror movie character behavior. The flick does include a few brief shots of commendable practical effects gore, but noticeably several shots occur off-camera due to budgetary limitations.

      The first episode of Outcast is excellent. Thanks to steady direction from Adam Wingard, a tight script by Robert Kirkman that effectively draws plot points from the first three issues of the comic series, and skillful acting, the first episode is a moving, richly atmospheric demonic possession horror tale that’s frightening without having to resort to cheap exploitation shocks. Watching the first episode compelled me to read comic issues 2-10 that I’ve had sitting around for months. The comic is just a bit rougher around the edges than the TV adaptation; it’s distinctly more expository. The comic series is also a very slow burn. Due to several pages of letter column and advertisements in each issue, story progression in each issue is slim and slow, but the series does gradually hint at a much larger canvas.

      Watched Agents of SHIELD season 3 episodes 19 & 20.

      Watched Daredevil season 2 episode 6.

      Comment


      • Watched Sakamoto Desu ga episode 6.

        I thought Dragon Ball Super episode 44 would be a one-and-done disposable episode, but it's actually the beginning of a multi-episode story arc. So I then watched episode 45.

        The last third of Flying Witch episode 7 was quite cute.

        I'm slightly disappointed that the third Mushibugyo OAD was an alternate continuity story, but in the end it does still end up being fun.

        I'm quite glad that High School Fleet episode 4 changes the series' plot somewhat to prevent the story from falling into a repetitive rut.

        Watched Bakuon episode 8 and the excellent episode 9.

        The second Aria the Avvenire OVA is a very pleasant 80s throwback in tone. Anime that include fantasy or dream sequences aren't uncommon, but contemporary anime that deliberately create such fanciful, whimsical fantasy sequences the way shows like Urusei Yatsura used to are not common these days.

        The Girls und Panzer feature film is a light treat. The film is particularly simple, consisting of an extended opening battle sequence followed by light drama that sets up the film’s conflict then an extended concluding battle sequence. The film doesn’t try to be complex or heavy; it emphasizes its action and allows its idiosyncratic characters to run free. The film’s particular highlight is its subtle but exceptional animation quality that compulsively pulls viewers into the momentum and reality of the film. Also watched the epilogue OVA.

        Sansha Sanyou episode 7 is cute and especially well animated. Also watched episode 8.

        Watched Kuma Miko episodes 7-9.

        Watched Kurumukuro episode 8.

        The first issue of DC’s Scooby Apocalypse comic left me profoundly disappointed. The idea of an alternate continuity Scooby-Doo in which the gang survives the apocalypse seemed like it could be a fun concept. But the first issue of the comic reads more like a completely new story that draws slight characterization inspiration from the original cartoon. The characterizations in the comic mostly acknowledge their original counterparts but are significantly different. The character relationships are dramatically different as a result. So the comic doesn’t feel like Scooby-Doo in a different continuity. It feels like a completely new concept that borrows some inspiration from Scooby-Doo. In effect, it feels more like a rip-off than an homage. If the book is going to be this different, then just make it something entirely original because the vague glimmer of resemblance to the cartoon only becomes a distraction instead of a strength for this comic book series. Furthermore, the first issue is very talky – very exposition heavy, making it a bit of a slog to read through for no payoff. I was looking forward to this series, but now I have no desire to continue reading subsequent issues.

        The first issue of “father of cyberpunk” author William Gibson’s first comic book series, Archangel, isn’t bad, per se. It’s a literal sci-fi political revisionist thriller. But if the primary appeal is that the comic is the first by William Gibson, without knowing that fact in advance, I would never have guessed. The scripting is entirely functional but average for a comic book. The comic seems like it may be appealing to readers interested in WWII time travel stories, but it doesn’t offer much of interest to a larger audience.

        The second issue of Divinity II finally seems to be paying off the set-up established by the prior five issues. Image Comics refers to Monstress issue 5 as the end of the first story arc, but it’s actually issue six that provides a natural sense of resolution to one measure of the story. And issue six is so damn good! On the other hand, the sixth and final issue of Legacy of Luther Strode is fine but actually just a little bit unfulfilling. Rather, since the melee battles leading up to Luther’s final climactic fight with Cain have been so deliriously, grotesquely grand guignol the final fight simply has nowhere left to go. The final battle simply can’t top the extremes that the comic has already depicted. Narratively it’s a fine ending. But it’s not quite breathtaking the way some of the earlier issues in the franchise have been.

        Watched the “Music” episode of CNN’s documentary TV series “The Eighties.” I feel very gratified to see that now, at last, critics, albeit proponents, and the respectable media are beginning to acknowledge a fact that I grew up with, that the fashion sense of the 1980s music industry may be laughable now, but the music itself was then and remains now technically outstanding.

        Watched Archer season 7 episodes 3 & 4.

        Watched Daredevil season 2 episodes 7 and the very intriguing 8.

        Simply put, viewers that enjoyed Shane Black’s 2005 comedy noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang will equally enjoy The Nice Guys, and vice versa. The two films are cousins bordering on twins, sharing similar humor, tone, and even narrative construction. I may remain just a bit partial to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang because I’m a bigger fan of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer than Russell Crow and Ryan Gosling, but I immensely enjoyed The Nice Guys.

        Apart from lacking any degree of humor, the British sci-fi action film Kill Command is essentially Dog Soldiers with the werewolves replaced by robots. The film is not a rich, complex and nuanced literary narrative, but viewers seeking a solid Terminator-esque military survival action film should enjoy it. I was impressed by the believable mecha designs and the film’s insistence on having its soldier characters sustain their training and military discipline throughout the film.

        With dubious pleasure I can say that X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t as bad as I feared it might be. It’s only partially as bad as I anticipated it could be. The first third of the movie is edited exactly the way the first third of Dawn of Justice is and therefore suffers just the same. The first third of “Apocalypse” unspools like a collection of loosely related scenes rather than a singular narrative. And much like Dawn of Justice, the entire movie is so preoccupied with foreshadowing future movies that the hints stand out like sore thumbs and distract attention away from the immediate narrative. Moreover, the dialogue through the film’s first third is terribly expository. Characters only barely converse with each other because they’re so obligated to communicate details to remind viewers of characterization points and wring melodrama. In the middle of the film, the vaunted Weapon X cameo is a bust. It’s initially heavily sanitized to keep the movie kid-friendly. Then, as if realizing that the absence of any blood destroys the impact and credibility of the scene, blood begins to magically materialize from nowhere. Furthermore, either due to Hugh Jackman’s acting or Bryan Singer’s direction, berserker Weapon X’s feral behavior and demeanor is totally indistinguishable from normal Wolverine. Visibly seeing “accurate” renditions of Archangel, Storm, and Psylocke is gratifying, but the characters functionally serve very little purpose in the film. The physics related to Quicksilver are astoundingly stupid. It’s impossible to be standing still and quickly moving at the same time. Having super speed doesn’t grant superhuman strength. On the positive side, once the film finally places all of its pieces on the board, the chess match is flashy enough to nearly salvage the film thanks to Bryan Singer’s experience now allowing him to at least deftly direct X-Men battle scenes.

        As much as I’d like to hope that the 2015 Icehouse in Concert double CD set would recruit new fans, I doubt that will happen. The songs are very interesting and appealing alternate and acoustic live renditions that are certain to appeal to veteran fans but not likely to enthrall completely new listeners.

        Comment


        • The animation quality of the 1967 spy/action TV series Skyers 5 is nothing special, but like a lot of early anime series, it compensates for its limited animation with very dynamic and unusual cinematography. Many shows from the 60s frequently use creative perspectives and camera angles that contemporary anime sadly don’t employ anymore. The first two episodes require a lot of suspension of disbelief because the episodes are a near non-stop parade of outrageous and unbelievable situations and stunts, frequently involving a staggering body count.

          Watched High School Fleet episodes 5-9.

          Watched Flying Witch episode 8.

          Watched Re:Zero 7-10. Particularly episodes 9 & 10 are a bit gruesome but also feature some really sweet action animation.

          Watched Pan de Peace episodes 6-9.

          Watched Annehappy episodes 5-8.

          Part of me recognizes that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri practically needs a bit of a breather, but I wonder if episode 7 had to devote quite as much time as it did.

          Watched Rilu Rilu Fairilu 6-9. Episode 7 was particularly nice.

          Even as much as I like Haikyuu, I don’t understand why the second OVA, the Jump Festa movie, chose to animate the story it did. It depicts the events in-between second season episodes 3 & 4 that the TV series skipped over. The TV series wisely skipped over these few hours of continuity and simply explains what occurred in dialogue because viewers really don’t need to actually see Hinata & Kageyama fail their English test, study hard, then pass the make-up exam. The span of time and the events depicted in this OVA are entirely superfluous, and as a result even the short OVA still feels like a waste of time.

          The fourth One Punch Man omake OVA feels a bit odd because its characterization of Silver Fang seems moderately different than it was in the TV show. Also watched the fifth and sixth shorts.

          I'm a bit disappointed because Dragon Ball Super episode 46 didn't have nearly the impact or tension that I probably should have had.

          Watched Kuma Miko episode 10.

          Bakuon episode 10 was unusually enjoyable.

          I appreciate the way Uchuu Patrol Luluco episodes 7-9 reference other Studio Trigger productions. Watched episodes 6-10.

          Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 5-9. Episode 7 is particularly hilarious because it's so true.

          Watched Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou episodes 5-7. Episode 5 is a particularly good one.

          Watched Joker Game episodes 8-10. Episode 10 in particular is a brilliant episode because the story is relatively simple but the telling is magnificent.

          On the cinematic front, Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa is a brilliant achievement. The stop-motion animation is wonderful. However, I can’t help myself from thinking that I would like the film more if its narrative focus were just a bit different. Although the film’s primary conceit is certainly one that any viewer can relate to, the story is a bit more about a singular man’s inability to meaningfully engage with the world rather than a broader illustration of an existential human condition. As a viewer, I can relate to the film, but the film is about the unique psychological problem of protagonist Michael Stone and not about the daily struggles that I and all viewers encounter. The film forewarns viewers multiple times that the story is not a broad statement about all people but rather a specific story about just one person, but the film just feels so human and so natural for so long until it very abruptly, and with no more explanation than any other aspect of the film has, takes a turn that only the protagonist would experience, thereby suddenly cutting out the audience from the shared experience, abruptly transforming the audience from tacit participants to objective observers.

          Regarding comic books, the fourth issue of The Discipline continues to feel a bit sloppy and a bit ineffectively paced, but it's also still intriguing and quite provocative. The first issue of writer Cullen Bunn's Night Trap is exactly what it sets out to be. If Hatchet was the cinematic resurrection of 80's slasher movies, Night Trap is its comic book equivilant. The sixth issue of Paper Girls would completely lack context and relevance without its preceeding issues, but as a culmination of what's developed so far, the issue is outstanding. Also outstanding is the second issue of Aliens: Defiance. This series, so far, is exactly and everything I want from an Aliens comic book.Providence issue 9 still reads to me more like an example of writer Alan Moore trying to show off his literary dexterity rather than create a concise and effective weird tale. The story continues to meander seemingly near pointlessly, frequently punctuated by characters and scenes that aren't frightening at all but are so rhetorical and artificial that they seem included only to add pretension.

          Comment


          • I like the completely out of context Isobe Isobee cameo in Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou episode 8. Also watched episode 9. Episode 10 was particularly fun.

            The first episode of the 1990 OVA series Kentoushi may be one of the singular worst anime I’ve ever seen. The story isn’t especially bad; it’s merely mundane. A Japanese street fighter immigrates to New York City hoping to transition into a professional boxer. In many respects the OVA looks and feels like a more conventional prototype to the exceedingly similar anime film Heavy that was released only three months later. Some details of the first Kentoushi OVA are a bit silly. Protagonist Kenji rescuing a girl being chased by a gang of thugs is a narrative cliché. But him doing so twice in the same 45 minute OVA pushes credibility into incredulity. Scenery shots of New York are typically either sepia-filtered photographs or laughable hand-drawn backgrounds that depict 1980’s New York City as a virtual apocalyptic ruin. Despite Kenji finally finding a gym that will accept him, he never seems to have a trainer. He just spends interminable amounts of time working the bag, exemplifying the OVA’s biggest weakness. This OVA isn’t a motion comic, but it would be more excusable if it was. The animation quality rivals vintage Knack productions. It makes 60’s anime like Tiger Mask seem well-animated by comparison. I estimate that more than half of the episode consists of recycled frame of animation. Frame rates are appalling low and occasionally frames are simply missing, causing body parts to just vanish. Continuity is inconsistent. In one shot Kenji is wearing boxing gloves. Then in the next shot he’s not. Then in the following shot the gloves are back. In one scene a character simply materializes because the OVA doesn’t bother to animate him entering the room. The fight referee seems to count to 12 or more instead of doing a ten-count because his arm motions are just arbitrarily repeated frames. Periodically through the episode even sound effects are mistimed. Particularly during the climactic sparring match, some of Kenji’s punches seem to be magical delayed-reaction punches because the sound effects are late. What should be an involving and exciting OVA is rendered laughable and tremendously boring because viewers get real tired of seeing the same shots repeated ad nauseam.

            Watched Flying Witch episodes 9 & 10.

            Watched the third Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow OVA.

            Kuromukuro episode 9 is fine, but episode 10 is infuriating because the UN base has always been depicted as crawling with guards and being security conscious, yet in this episode security in laughably non-existant.

            Watched High School Fleet episodes 10 & 11. Episode 11 really highlighted two core problems with the series. First, the show only seems to acknowledge the existence of long-range radar technology when it’s beneficial to the plot. The bigger problem is one that the show has been struggling with from the very first episode onward. At this point in her lifetime experience, Misaki is temperamentally unprepared to be the ship’s captain. The entire Harakaze crew treats chain of command and military discipline as though they were participating in a school club rather than formal Japanese naval missions. The fundamental captain’s responsibility is to make difficult choices and present orders, yet Misaki is afraid to commit to command, and the entire ship’s crew indulges her instead of demanding responsibility. The show is so concerned with maintaining a cute bishoujo appeal that it discards logic and believability. In episode 11 not a single crew member suggests the simple and obvious solution. The captain who’s unwilling to lead should temporarily transfer her command to the ship’s deputy captain. But she doesn’t because the show’s writing is too preoccupied with depicting cute girls being cute instead of cute girls acting believably and appropriately in their situation.

            The bulk of Dragon Ball Super episode 47 isn’t tremendously interesting. Back in the early 1990s the introduction of Future Trunks was novel because the character had such a unique character design, and his existence helped expand the Dragon Ball world. Over twenty years later, his reappearance largely feels like a combination of grasping at straws and fan pandering. The episode is salvaged by literally one word. The final word of the episode that Black speaks introduces an intriguing implication that he has a potentially interesting story. Hopefully his story is interesting because logically despite Black being stronger than Future Trunks, he should be no match for Goku or Vegeta.

            Watched Kuma Miko episode 11.

            Watched Bakuon episode 11.

            For its age, the visual design and animation quality of the first episode of Entaku no Kishi Monogatari Moero Arthur are just fine. However, logical continuity isn’t a strength. The story skips from the night of Arthur’s birth to his third birthday in literally the same scene. Merlin predicts tragedy literally to the day four years in advance, yet he still manages to arrive at the castle too late to prevent the tragedy. During her escape from the castle, Arthur is three years old, yet he’s drawn the size of a toddler, and his mother carries him as if he’s still a baby. King Lavik kills Ulther in order to secure the crown of the realm, yet 12 years later he still hasn’t ascended to ruler of the land. He redirects his vendetta against Arthur, but at his pace, even if he does manage to assassinate Arthur, he’ll die of old age before he manages to become king of the realm.

            The Moero Arthur: Hakuba no Ouji series that followed is unexpectedly worse. The character design is sloppy and the animation quality poor. The second series is not actually a sequel; it’s an entirely alternate continuity story that basically turns teenage Prince Arthur into a Mito Komon figure in a story with the tone and style of the Robin Hood no Daibouken television series.

            Watched the third Tamayura movie. The art design and animation quality during the first half of the film are a bit under par, but the segment makes up for it with some lovely cinematography. The second half of the film is affecting but surprisingly lacking in resolution for a show that concentrates so much on finding closure and resolutions and solutions to life’s nagging little troubles and questions.

            The first Queen's Blade Grimoire OVA delivers exactly what viewers expect from the franchise, for better and worse. The art design and animation quality are strong. The episode includes plenty of gratuitous T&A. And the episode includes whiplash tonal shifts from slapstick to tragedy.

            Koutetsujou no Kabaneri episodes 8-10 ramp up the drama and tragedy but also fall prey to the stereotypical tropes that plauge such plot developments. As much as the viewer is supposed to be distraught and emotionally invested in the goings on, the plot developments also distance the viewer with the simple fact that ignorant people blinded by emotion lose their effective abilities and thus get taken advantage of.

            Rilu Rilu Fairlu episode 10 is a fascinating episode because its moral message for Japanese children is that it’s okay to experiment with self-expression and fashion as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with the established social order. If the personal expression is broadly acceptable and can be adopted by surrounding society, then it’s welcome. But stepping too far out of line, straying too far from one’s expected appearance is actually a personal fault that one should be embarrassed about. It’s nearly the entire opposite of the American moral precept to encourage and value individuality and self-expression above all other concerns besides functional practicality. Rosa as a powapowa-ken in episode 11 was one of the very cutest things I've seen in a while. Watched up to episode 13. The show is teasing another meeting between Lip and Hanamura-kun so much that I really want to see it happen.

            Particularly because the episodes are brief, gorgeous looking and well animated, I spent a few minutes watching Ragnastrike Angels 2-12.

            Continued in next post.

            Comment


            • Continued from previous post.

              Read the first two issues of writer Kieron Gillen & artist Omar Francia’s sci-fi/crime/action comic series Mercury Heat. It’s a bit of a mess all around. The story concept does introduce some interesting speculative ideas, but the protagonist is very poorly characterized. She’s very confident about her skills and very determined to chart her own future, yet she’s also depicted as deeply insecure. She’s proud of her capacity for violence yet disgusted by other people respecting her “talent.” The art is also compromised. Objectively the visual art is good, but very frequently character facial expressions and even movements don’t correspond to the writing. Characters are drawn running when the script suggests that they’re casually walking. Characters frequently look furious even when they’re having relaxed conversations.

              Read Henchgirl issue 7 and Tank Girl: Two Girls One Tank issue one. At long last, finally Wicked+Divine issue 20 begins to spell out a clear explanation of what's been going on. Read Ninkak issue 16. Public Relations is just a bit annoying because it spends so much effort setting up gags to come in later issues, but it makes up for the distraction by also being very crudely hilarious. The fourth and final issue of the first Head Lopper series is wonderfully cinematic and a great conclusion. I've mentioned before that sometimes Henchgirl really hits a homer. Issue 8 is such an issue. Finished off Matt Martin's Webwitch issues 3-5. The Wonder Woman Rebirth one-shot comic seems like it did the best it could under heavy restrictions. The comic reads as if its editors told the creators to fill 20 pages with only one primary character and only one plot point. I’m hesitant to use the adjective “feminine” in relation to the art because I don’t want to seem sexist, but the art distinctly lacks litheness, grace; it looks like art that would be far more fitting to a more masculine character and story. Read the first five issues of Saga via collected graphic novel. The story begins well and distinctly feels like a great foundation for an ever-expanding epic. The characterizations are personified well but, this early on, lack some background, so the characters have dynamic, interesting personalities, but readers don’t know enough about the characters yet to fully empathize with any of them. How good the third issue of The Fix is will ultimately be determined by future issues of the comic. In isolation, the issue is too obviously a dramatization of real life merged with action movie cliché. So the issue is far from original. But if it serves as a foundation for new developments in the ongoing story, it will have served a valid purpose.

              I have a very mixed reaction to the second episode of Outcast. The episode is rather different from the first because the goal of the first episode was to be frightening while the goal of the second episode was to advance the story by only a little bit. The second episode reveals an inherent dilemma for the franchise. The comic book story moves very slowly and has under 20 issues so far. In effect, there isn’t enough material in the comics so far to sustain a series of hour-long TV episodes. So the second episode of the TV series relies on a combination of lots of flashbacks to information already well-established by the first episode and new plot developments that differ from the original comic book story progression. Most if not all viewers will likely find much of the second episode redundant. Viewers familiar with the original comics will also realize that the episode is struggling to tread water and mark time because the show has to be careful not to exhaust all of its story too quickly.

              Watched Archer season 7 episodes 5-7.

              Watched Daredevil season 2 episodes 9-11.

              The Coen’s Hail, Caesar is one of those occasional films arguably done a terrible disservice by entirely misleading trailers. The trailers present the film as a quick-witted and hilarious satire of Hollywood’s golden age, possibly hiding even a sci-fi twist. The trailers also happen to include every moment of humor contained in the entire picture. The film is actually a dramatic homage to the Hollywood golden era composed for an audience of screen literate critical cinemaphiles. The movie is a concentrated slice-of-life depiction of the Hollywood studio system circa 1945. The film is handsomely crafted, but it seems deliberately designed to appeal strictly to a tiny cache of viewers that eagerly want to see a dramatization of the studio backlot of Hollywood’s golden age. For everyone else, the vast majority of viewers, the film is pretty dull and unsatisfying.

              The gunplay action film Gridlocked is certainly not flawless, but it gets just enough right to balance the scale solidly in its favor. The film begins and ends with some fairly intelligent celebrity satire, but that sense of humor is entirely absent through the middle bulk of the film. The movie also suffers some significant plot holes, the biggest being why a character initiates a plan to secure the money after learning that the money is no longer available. The movie needs the plot twist, so it occurs even though it makes zero sense. And most grevious, the movie is too long. Shaving off close to a half-hour would make the movie far tighter and exciting. But in an era in which gunplay movies have largely become passé, this one revels in 80s/90s’ style shootout carnage, so viewers longing for a film with lots of guns, lots of gunplay, and a big body count get what they came for.

              Regardless of how outré or non sequitur they may be, dreams seem to make complete sense while they’re unfolding. That oxymoronic principle is the foundation of writer/director Quentin Dupieux’s 2014 film Reality. The movie ultimately feels like the culminating depiction of Rubber’s famous opening monologue that proposes that events occur within movies “just because.” I like Quentin Dupieux’s films, but even as biased as I am, I have to concede that Reality is a hard sell. The movie takes over an hour to even begin congealing, and it never makes complete sense, which is ultimately the point. The movie is literally a loop of dreams within dreams, arguably an observation on the principle that reality forms human perception at the same time it is manipulated by human perception. Even the soundtrack by talented composer Philip Glass is deliberately so redundant that it quickly becomes excruciating. The film is filled with overt satire of the film-making process & industry, but the satire feels more like content than point. The satire fills the movie because the film has to be about something. But, and this is a small but necessary spoiler, the movie is ultimately a joke perpetrated upon the viewer. Viewers with a limited tolerance for cinematic oddity will walk out or shut off the movie part-way in angry frustration. Viewers with the fortitude to sit through the entire feature will debate whether they’ve been taken advantage of or whether they’ve been willingly complicit in their own cinematic delusion.

              Comment


              • Since it's the same but technically different, I watched the first episode of the Gundam Unicorn Re:0096 TV edit.

                Watched the fun Lupin III: Italy episodes 25 & 26.

                Watched Mahoutsukai Precure episodes 7-9.

                Dragon Ball Super episode 48 is just a bit annoying because Future Trunks' personality isn't consistent. He's afraid to fight Black when the plot calls for that reaction, and he's eager to fight when the plot calls for that opposite reaction. Also watched episode 49.

                Watched Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou episode 11.

                Watched Re:Zero episodes 11 & 12.

                Watched Seitokai Yakuindomo* OAD 5.

                I’m a bit surprised that despite being a new, free Gainax anime, the English-speaking fan community has largely overlooked Masamune Datenicle. The 31-minute anime split into two episodes has nice character design and definitely feels like it would appeal to fans of Hakuouki and Hakkenden Touhou Hakken Ibun. The animation quality sometimes skimps, but the show wisely frequently uses frame-saving for comedic effect.

                Watched Sansha Sanyo episodes 9-12. The final episode included some really nice little animation treats including Nishiyama tying her tie at the beginning of the episode and her running down the stairwell sideways at the end of the episode. Super realistic, detailed animation like those scenes is rare in anime these days.

                Watched Anne Happy episodes 9-12.

                The 12th and final episode of High School Fleet can be accused of being a bit predictable, but it's a fine ending.

                Watched the Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo OVA episode.

                Watched the Kuma Miko OVA.

                Watched the pleasant 11th and 12th episodes of Flying Witch and Flying Witch Puchi 1-7.

                I'm a bit conflicted over the 11th & 12th episodes of Joker Game. Both are excellent episodes, and I can see why episode 12 was selected to be the series' final episode - it wraps up Tobisaki's story arc that began in the first episode. But in several ways, episode 11 seems like an equally strong, if not better final episode.

                Watched Sakamoto Desu ga episodes 7-11. The second half of episode 10 is a bit sappy, but it's also still touching.

                Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 11 & 12.

                The final two episodes of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri are a mild disappointment because despite still having elaborate and bloody action, the last two episodes discard even pretense of adhering to narrative continuity. The episodes just decide to do whatever they want, regardless of whether plot developments contradict or rules stay consistent or themes correlate to what’s come before. The two episodes function on the principle that the means can be an illogical mess as long as the ends still adhere to formula.

                The first episode of web-anime series ReLife is fine, if unremarkable.

                I suppose that a viewer completely new to anime may find some enjoyment in the first episode of Masou Gakuen HxH. But any viewer that's been around for a while and encountered shows including High School DxD, Infinite Stratos, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, and Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan has seen every aspect of this show before, and it wasn't really that good the earlier couple of times it got recycled.

                Read the 8th volume of New Lone Wolf & Cub.

                The first issue of writer Jon Hughes & artist Jason Pearson's superhero comic America isn't nearly as edgy or alternative as its cover art suggests. The comic could actually practically pass for a Marvel or DC comic. The first issue isn't remarkable, but it does set up the foundational setting for a bit of a superhero psychological deconstruction that could become interesting in subsequent issues as the story ramps up.

                While writer Matt Kindt had plenty of time to consider what a fight between gods would be like, I still respect the way the battle between godlike beings in Divinity II issue 3 involves very few punches and far more manipulation of time and influence.

                Read the first issue of Brian Pulido's new comic series La Muerta. It's exactly as cliche, average and routine as one would expect.

                In tone and cinematic quality, the third episode of Outcast falls in-between the first two episodes. It’s more purposeful than the second episode but not quite as stylish as the first. The episode continues to introduce some changes from the original comic. One change, in particular, I approve of in this episode. The resolution of the boys’ visit to the prison feels more believable and less sensationalistic in the TV adaptation. The other change surrounding Megan investigating Donnie feels slightly less believable than the way Donnie was introduced in the comic, but I do respect the change because I recognize how the change milks more tension in the TV adaptation. The fourth episode isn’t conventionally frightening in a horror tale sense but is certainly the most intense episode since the first. This episode begins to introduce larger divergence from the original comics, but the core storyline is still faithful, and the protracted development works well in this episode to develop tone and pacing.

                Finished off Archer season 7 episodes 8-10. The season certainly ended with a hell of a cliffhanger.

                Finished off episodes 12 & 13 of Daredevil season 2.

                Went out to see Nic Refn’s The Neon Demon on Friday morning. Although the story is unlike any of his previous films, the visual style and tone of the film feels exactly like a hybrid of Fear X and Valhalla Rising. The film is absolutely as polarizing as most of Refn’s films are. Established fans of the director’s work will likely respond with varying degrees of positive reception while everyone else will likely hate the film. I’m particularly partial to Refn’s Drive and Valhalla Rising, so I didn’t think that Neon Demon was quite as compelling or fascinating as either of those two films, but it is more satisfying than Only God Forgives. The film is well-represented by its trailers. While it’s a biting satire of the high-end professional fashion industry, it’s much more a mediation on mood, color, personality, and emotion that shifts, albeit a bit abruptly, from highly cynical drama to arthouse horror. I don’t intend this analogy to be a spoiler, so it shouldn’t be taken too literally, but the film is essentially the story of a sheep that wanders into a pack of wolves and announces that it wants to join them. The wolves snicker to each other and play along while the viewer observes uncomfortably, wondering when the wolves will tire of the game and devour the sheep in a bloody feeding frenzy.

                Comment


                • Watched Kuromukuro episodes 11-12.

                  Watched Momokuri episodes 5-9.

                  I’m very conflicted over the first episode of the second Berserk TV series. I can’t help but think that the show could be more atmospheric if it was animated in traditional 2D. I do appreciate the way the characters actually look like manga drawings in motion, but the quality and design of the CG is very distracting because it seems to vary wildly. In some shots it looks like traditional 2D. In some shots it has an ugly, artificial look. In some shots the entire mise en scene looks like a CG render from a video game. In some scenes the CG has a deliberately cross-hatched texturing. The CG is simply never consistent. I miss the characteristic Susumu Hirasawa score, although the new background music is serviceable. I really appreciate the sound effects associated with Gutts’ sword. The sound effects now, like never before, emphasize the chunky, clunky iron slab quality of the Dragon Slayer.

                  Watched the first episode of Gra-P & Rodeo II.

                  Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 50.

                  The first episode of Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu gives me the sense that possibly the problem with the story is that it’s just too big for the sort of adaptation that it’s getting. The story simply contains so many characters, settings and relationships that it’s nearly impossible to give any of them a great deal of personal focus without drastically slowing the pace of the narrative. So instead of watching individuals, viewers sort of see chess pieces moving on a larger board. I suppose that watching enough of the show would create some personal connection to and interest in particular characters, but the show just doesn’t captivate me enough to make me want to diligently watch it.

                  I don’t want to drop a spoiler, but it’s literally the foundational plot of the first episode, so I think I can get away with saying that the first episode of Orange appears to be a slight twist on a reverse AnoHana. The first episode is technically a bit interesting because its frame rate is typical for contemporary anime, but the episode puts a lot more animation into characters than typical. In other words, the movement isn’t exceptionally fluid, but the characters do move much more in this show than characters in other similar dramatic anime do. Especially Azusa is always moving while in dialogue-driven shows characters typically stand still while they speak.

                  The first episode of Tales of Zestiria the Cross comes across like a confused mess. The 2D and 3D elements are independently beautiful, but they don’t mesh especially well. The supernatural assassins either deliberately miss their opportunity to assassinate the princess, or they’re very inept. Likewise, the princess’ guards are terrible at their job because they first run off and leave to princess to defend herself. Then later in the episode they run for their lives first, leaving the princess in the dust behind them. And even the princess herself, who supposedly deeply cares about people, runs her horse directly through a person. Then the magic conflict that closes the episode doesn’t make sense. As a viewer, I can’t tell if the princess was just an irrelevant bystander, if one enemy wanted her dead but wasn’t very good at accomplishing the task, if the other fighter wanted the princess dead or if he wanted to protect her. Then why the storm, or whatever it was, seemed to have a vendetta against every living thing in its path except the princess seemed very odd. The entire episode felt like it was designed to convey certain ideas: tragedy surrounds the princess, political intrigue, impending threat. So coherent storytelling was irrelevant as long as the intended ideas got expressed.

                  Unfortunately, the first episode of Hatsukoi Monster illustrates everything that’s wrong with contemporary anime. Kaho believes she’s fallen in love with Kanade, but she’s too ignorant to even know what love is. She doesn’t realize that she’s confusing a passing fascination with love. More importantly, Kanade’s personality changes as the plot demands. Prior anime including Yoiko (1998) and Recorder to Randoseru (2012) have revolved around kids that looked older than they are. In those shows the young kids thought and acted like kids. In this show Kanade only acts like a child when conducive to the plot. I can stand a gimmick. I can’t stand it when a show ignores its own logic as a cheap storytelling shortcut to sustain the gimmick.

                  The first episode of Shougeki no Soma: Ni no Sara is pretty typical cooking anime. Particularly the cook-off between a male and female over traditional Japanese cuisine feels especially reminiscent of the first Ippon Bouchou Mantarou OVA from 1991.

                  Sadly, similarly the first episode of Rewrite also feels like an effort to just throw a lot against the wall to see what sticks. The show appears to be a very lame effort to satirize galge anime like Amagami, Kanon, Da Capo, and Little Busters, but the satire seems to lack a point, a sense of purpose. The extra-long episode throws in all manner of supernatural elements plus a transfer student and a chuunibyo, but nothing seems to have any purpose. And in certain shots the character art is so bad that it looks sub-professional and just reinforces the sensation that this anime isn’t deliberately trying to bad for satirical effect; it’s just bad anime.

                  Watched Aggressive Retsuko episode 13

                  Watched Pan de Peace episodes 10-13. I can clearly see why having a little bit of knowledge about Japanese culture makes the references in this show a bit more obvious.

                  The 12th and final episode of Sakamoto Desu ga is one of the all-time great final episodes.

                  To give benefit of the doubt, Re:Zero episodes 13 & 14 are compelling ones because they present a myriad of seemingly valid perspectives, leaving the viewer to choose among them. Arguably the viewer can't determine who is "right" because the show still hasn't provided enough information, but the mere fact that viewers can even debate multiple perspectives within the show makes the series more complex than most other anime. I have great respect for the way episode 13 climaxes with characters honestly expressing their feelings to each other, even when those feelings are selfish, ugly, or destructive.

                  The first episode of Bananya disturbs me because I can't erase the image of the bloody gore that would accompany someone eating a bananya.

                  The first episode of Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan is fairly funny.

                  Watched Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou episode 13.

                  Love Live! Sunshine!! is the Love Live franchise's "Cinderella Girls." It's a sequel literally and figuratively inspired by the original.

                  Days is a perfect example of the fundamental characteristics of good shounen anime. It's a story about good-natured boys trying their hardest. I like it.

                  I really want to like the first episode of Fukigen na Mononokean, but a number of small details really bug me. Abeno initially claims to be the moja-moja’s master, but he’s not. Ashiya gets guilt-tripped into empathizing with and even liking the moja-moja, but Ashiya’s sudden change of attitude completely forgets that the creature was directly physically harming him. Ashiya apologizes to Abeno, saying that he misunderstood Abeno, that Abeno wasn’t mocking him. Wrong. Abeno was indeed antagonizing and mocking him. By the typical standards, no, Abeno is not actually a nice or good person at all, even though the story wants viewers to believe that he’s actually “good” in an unconventional way. Abeno is merely an opportunist with a weird sense of need to justify his self-absorbed behavior.

                  Watched the first three episodes of the sixth season of Game of Thrones. After the fifth season's seemingly "normal" body count, these first three episodes seem to be trying to live up to the show's reputation by killing off as many "named" characters as rapidly as possible.

                  Comment


                  • The first episode of PuzDora Cross is a fairly standard affair, stylistically similar to other shounen giant monster battle anime like Koryuu King and Monster Strike.

                    The first episode of Amaama to Inazuma is a nice, pleasant episode that sets up the scenario and suggests that the series will get a bit better once it hits its stride.

                    The premiere episode of D.Grey-man Hallow feels particularly reminiscent of Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen Hen. Althought more accurately, the later is probably following in the footsteps of the former. The episode is very "fans only," proving rather confusing for new viewers that aren't rather familiar with the manga source material.

                    The debut episode of New Game seems promising, but I'll need to see what direction future episodes take.

                    The first episode of children's anime Kobito Dukan seems disturbingly weird, but it's too short to get a good feel for.

                    I don't think that the first episode of Cheer Danshi is bad in any way. It just didn't grab me, either.

                    Watched the second episode of Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan.

                    The first episode of Servamp is just a terrible string of stupid contradictions. Protagonist Mahiru claims to hate troublesome things, yet he’s the first to volunteer for extra chores & duties, which he justifies as just a different perspective on what constitutes “troublesome.” He tells the vampire Kuro to get lost, but Kuro can’t leave because Mahiru’s previously did exactly what Kuro told him not to do. Mahiru is characterized as tremendously thoughtful of other people, yet he forces a decision onto Kuro that breaks literally hundreds of years of abstinence. He orders Kuro to defeat another murderous vampire yet stops Kuro from finishing the task. Every detail of the narrative adheres to shounen formula, and every single detail prioritizes setting up a long-running shounen formula instead of creating believable, consistent story and characterization.

                    I wanted to finish watching Show By Rock episodes 7-12 before diving into the second series. Returning to the series reminded me of why I drifted away from it. Despite having aspects that I like, the show’s weaknesses and flaws somewhat outweigh its few strengths. The show’s pacing is terrible. Very little actually occurs throughout the entire series. Shingan Crimsonz are just unbearable supporting characters that should have been limited to a single-episode cameo appearance. The last few episodes even introduce an entirely new gang of characters whose only purpose seems to be filling time. The second half of the show also introduces an entirely parallel “yokai” neighborhood then does absolutely nothing with it. The show makes a big deal about multiple characters’ back stories yet never does anything with those characters. At the same time, the protagonist never once thinks about how she’ll get home or who she’s left behind. Furthermore, the final episode even hinges upon the fact that the lead character has no character development. She never learns or grows emotionally during the series. Furthermore, the show is supposedly about friendship and the power of rock & roll, yet the climax virtually ignores both. I do respect Sanrio for trying to branch out and create a show for the otaku market, but Show By Rock is yet another example of contemporary anime created first and foremost as a marketing opportunity rather than as an entertaining, endearing, artistic story.

                    Evidently Show By Rock’s producers realized that the first season was woefully lacking in story, so the second series doesn’t even try. The title “Show By Rock!! Short!!” is accurate because the second season apparently consists of three-minute shorts instead of full twenty-five minute long episodes.

                    The first episode of Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu is mildly amusing largely because it's familiar yet something we haven't seen in an anime before.

                    The first episode of Scar-red Rider Xechs appears to be yet another contemporary anime that’s an incoherent slapdash of concepts cribbed from other anime. The first episode refers to “life after God,” yet makes no other reference to religious faith or lack of it, and the episode contains no religious iconography. The entire cast is unpleasant. The soldier boys are all musicians, yet music appears to have nothing to do with the plot. Naturally, the transforming soldier boys are described as the only weapon against the invading Nightfly O’Notes, yet their monocycles that appear to be conventional weapons appear to be effective against the invaders. So why don’t the regular soldiers use similar weapons? The episode explains that all living things within the enemy boss’ red force field die, except two characters vital to the plot get caught inside the red force field and don’t die. I’m also bothered by the continuity error that early in the episode Okazaki gets a bloodstain on her uniform. But in the next shot of her, the bloodstain has vanished.

                    Watched the first episode of Onara Gorou. I can say that I never anticipated witnessing a girl idol group that included a dancing fart.

                    Comment


                    • Watched Rilu Rilu Fairlu episodes 14 & 15. I'm a bit disappointed to see that Himawari & Dante really aren't cute in their adult forms.

                      The first episode of Ozmafia seems both odd and insubstantial. At only four minutes long, it does little more than convey the sense that its art design is simplified cute, allowing its animation quality to be a bit smoother than many other contemporary anime. But the protagonist’s gender from the original otome game appears to have been switched from female to male for odd reason, and neither aspect of the Wizard of Oz theme nor the mafia theme come across clearly in the episode at all.

                      Tsukiuta is the season’s second boy band anime. This one appears structured to concentrate on examining the daily life of one idol per episode. I’m not interested in this variety of anime, but the first episode of Tsukiuta was doing fairly well for itself until it abruptly switched to moderately sub-par CG for its concert performance scene.

                      The first episode of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei matches the standards and style established by the series' prior seasons.

                      Watched Momokuri episodes 10-12.

                      Watched the first hour-long episode of the 2003 Monkey Punch Katsudou Dai Shashin “Mankatsu” television series. The first half of the episode is a bunch of short vignettes. Particularly the featured one about an American cowboy encountering the Shinsengumi may have been created by Monkey Punch, but the animation looks and feels practically exactly like Ralph Bakshi’s signature work with its disco-inspired rubbery flexibility and its provocative sexuality. The second half of the episode, a 25-minute-long spy action/thriller story feels a bit like a hybrid of Lupin III and Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae reworked in a new genre. I’m somewhat surprised that this concept didn’t spin off into its own independent TV series because it certainly seems like it could support one.

                      Watched Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan episodes 3 & 4.

                      By the time the first episode of the second season of Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! has rolled around, the series has seemingly perfected its style of silly, slightly embarrassing deadpan satire. Some viewers will doubtlessly enjoy it, but I’m disappointed that a show which dares to toss out parody magical attack names like “Orifice Hurricane” is actually so tame and bland.

                      The first episode of Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars makes me pine for the days of Iczer-One or even Brigadoon. Regalia is yet another contemporary example of an anime that assumes consistent characterization, logical consistency, and the fundamental principles of storytelling are unnecessary as long as the production has an appealing premise. The show wants to present itself as badass mecha battle action but also as cute bishoujo anime. So the viewer gets no firm, concrete sense of the characters. Rena is reluctant to fight, but then she commits to fight. All the while the viewer never knows what she’s fighting for or why she’s willing to fight. She’s introduced as being a formidable threat, but then the show undercuts its own momentum not once but twice. Then the post end credits zinger is so ridiculously out of step with everything that’s occurred before that it practically turns the show into a bad joke. This could probably have been a good episode, and a good beginning for the show if it devoted any concern at all for cohesive, effective storytelling instead of just ensuring that it squeezed in every narrative trope on its to-do list, regardless of whether the principles organically adhered to each other or strengthened the story.

                      I was hoping to like Kono Bijutsu-bu ni wa Mondai ga Aru, but the first episode is a major disappointment. The two main characters are so one-dimensional that in any other anime they’d be supporting characters. They literally only have one thought each. Usami is a tsundere obsessed with Uchimaki. Uchimaki is a 2D otaku. Throughout the entire first episode neither character speaks a single sentence that isn’t somehow related to his or her own singular personality trait. The she loves him; he only loves 2D gimmick is so prominent that the episode even points out that Uchimaki should be in the manga club instead of the art club. So even the show’s setting is just an artificial plot contrivance. This episode may have worked as a 12-minute episode that rehashes the single same joke ad infinitum. As a 25-minute episode, I struggled to stay mentally engaged with it. However, because I’d like to like this show, I may give it another chance to see if the addition of its extended cast adds and diversity and depth.

                      And yet again, I’d like to like the first episode of Planetarian because Yumemi is a very sweet-natured character. But the un-named protagonist, first, is depicted as a veteran scavenger, yet he’s startlingly bad at his job. He can’t shoot robots even at close range even when using an automatic rifle and a brace to steady his aim. He loses his primary weapon. He fails to pay attention to where he steps. He allows himself to be blinded while wearing night vision goggles even though he himself controls his exposure to light. Then despite his repeated demands for silence and solitude, he doesn’t just walk away, which would be the logical and easiest course of action, because the plot demands that he stay present. Once again this is a production more concerned with setting up a scenario than actually telling a good story.

                      Comment


                      • The Hana wa Saku Tohoku ni Saku short film is charming and beautiful.

                        Okay. Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan episode 5 is funny because it's so ridiculous.

                        Presuming I'm not mistaken, Amanchu may be the first free/scuba diving anime in over twenty years. Since the show is the second pairing between Junichi Sato and Kozue Amano, it's exactly a slightly more lighthearted parallel to Aria.

                        Ensemble cast comedies that include one idiot can be a lot of fun, like Urusei Yatsura and Tenchi Muyo. Even this season’s Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan demonstrates that an ensemble comedy of idiots surrounding one character with common sense can be fun. But a strict cast of idiots loses its charm pretty quickly. The first episode of Handa-kun seems as if it wants to be this season’s answer to last season’s Sakamoto Desu ga. While that show featured a school idol who was unconventionally brilliant, Handa-kun features a school idol who’s unconventionally dense. But everyone surrounding him is equally stupid, so instead of seeing a contrast that throws a comical spotlight onto the laughable stupidity, the episode simply serves up a non-stop parade of failure.

                        Watched the short first episode of the current MZMZ18 television series. Narratively it’s a typical high school first-love dramedy. But I expect that a lot of typical otaku will dismiss it because its visual design isn’t even vaguely reminiscent of conventional anime.

                        I’m on the fence over the first episode of 91 Days. It’s reminiscent of Gangsta, which turned out to be a severe disappointment. In certain respects 91 Days also feels like it’s trying too hard and thus missing the mark. Fango is flamboyant but also seemingly ineffectual, yet despite the show trying to suggest that life is cheap and short, the show obviously has to keep him alive because he’s an obvious primary antagonist. I’m also confused over the show’s setting. Certain clues suggest that the show is set in America during the 1920s, but the show’s architecture and urban design is strictly European. However, while the first episode isn’t immediately as intriguing or stylish as Baccano, it’s also not quite as immediately dumb as Gangsta.

                        The first episode of Mahou Shoujo? Naria Girls is officially one of the strangest anime productions I’ve seen. It’s the latest anime series in the vein of Tesagure Bukatsumono that’s loosely scripted and largely ad libbed. The animation consists of still frames and still frame backgrounds with poorly animated NND rendered foreground characters. The CG rendered girls are constantly moving, but they move like floppy ball-jointed puppets, so they’re very creepy and unsettling to look at.

                        The first episode of Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin isn’t especially good, largely because it looks and feels like a mere collection of influences from Senjou no Valkyrie, Akagami no Shirayukihime, and Norn9. During the first few minutes of the episode the dialogue is painfully expository. The characters all strictly tell each other information they all know already but the audience doesn’t. The characterizations feel forced and rote. However, an intriguing cliffhanger might possibly salvage the show by suggesting that the series has a bit more up its sleeve than it initially suggests.

                        I’ve seen enough wuxia movies during the past twenty years to no longer react to them as something novel and new. So it’s actually the specific characteristics of Thunderbolt Fantasy that make it exceptionally cool. The combination of typical Chinese wuxia narrative and fighting combined with the aesthetics of Japanese anime complement each other well in this case, creating a show that’s atmospheric, exciting, and, to my surprise, exceedingly graphically violent. I’m stunned to see that in the same season that we get a new Berserk anime, this show actually surpasses Berserk’s bloody mayhem. Although this certainly isn’t traditional anime, it’s looking like it may well be one of the most satisfying shows of the new season.

                        The first episode of Time Travel Shoujo: Mari Waka to 8-nin no Kagakusha-tachi looks and feels as if it could have aired on Japanese television in the early 90s, and it distinctly harkens back to pre-2010 shows like Element Hunters and Omoikkiri Kagaku Adventure Sou Nanda. It also feels like an early 90’s anime because it’s oddly lighthearted. The characters quite easily brush off a heart attack as if it was the equivalent of a stubbed toe. But I really appreciate the way this show doesn’t feel like its primary goal is to sell light novels or character goods. This show actually feels like its primary goal is to be an entertaining anime.

                        Some of the humor in the first episode of Qualieda Code is actually pretty good. Not all of it, but some of it. I wish the humor were surrounded by a better show, though, because Qualieda Code is full of stupidity. Supposedly in the past the alien invaders easily decimated the world. Yet in the show’s present the alien invaders seem to exist strictly as targets. They seem to exhibit practically no offense whatsoever. There are three defensive armies, yet the aliens only attack one single soldier who isn’t even the protagonist. Seemingly roughly half of the defensive soldiers wield pistols, which makes no logical sense. As a matter of simple physics, rifles have greater range and accuracy than handguns, so why don’t all of the defensive soldiers use rifles? If the child soldiers are defending mankind, giving them numerical rankings seems like an unwise idea because it’s more likely to discourage and de-motivate. In fact, the episode even includes a conversation agreeing that ranking the soldiers is a bad idea. And the show clearly has no understanding of what the term “friendly fire” actually means.

                        Continued below --->

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                        • Continued from above.

                          I would have guessed that Hitori no Shita was a Chinese/Japanese co-production judging by its references and production quality, but learning that it’s a Korean/Japanese production makes just as much sense because the episode has the typical pacing and tone of a Korean horror movie. Unfortunately, this first episode can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a horror anime or a comical action show, and it does neither effort justice. The show’s production values aren’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but they’re distinctly sub-par. The opening animation suggests that the show will eventually reveal itself to be little more than a collection of influences and tropes from better Japanese anime titles. I also don’t understand why Baobao makes such a feeble effort to bury Chulan alive. If she wanted him dead, she had plenty of opportunity before. Then she rescues him for seemingly an equally arbitrary reason. And when when she abandons her fight against the zombies, calling it a pointless effort, she reveals that the entire sequence was literally pointless because she had no reason to fight the zombies whatsoever. The episode clarifies that at that point in time she had no reason at all to care about Chulan, so she wasn’t leaving half of the zombies as some sort of trial or test for him to survive. The literal only reason for the fight scene was just so the episode could contain some action. And I also find myself especially frustrated by the official Crunchyroll translation. The characters mostly speak the Japanese translations of the names, yet the subtitles insist on using the Chinese iterations. Furthermore, I’m frustrated that the subtitles refer to the zombies as “jiangshi” when they’re not actually jiangshi. Technically, Baobao says that she was attacked by “kyonshi,” which are female jiangshi, although none of the undead in the episode were female. But Baobao isn’t depicted as very intelligent or worldly, so she likely just used the only term she knew. Kyonshi are undead that hop with their stiff legs together. The undead in this episode shamble; therefore they’re zombies, not jiangshi. Moreover, I can’t fathom why the official subtitles literally transcribed “DT,” a Japanese abbreviation for “doutei,” instead of using the comprehensible English translated term “virgin.”

                          The first episode of the Ange Vierge TV series is a moderately messy failure, sadly not living up to the 2013 Production IG promotional anime. More like an extended promotional piece for the game than an actual anime production, roughly half of the episode is devoted to just introducing the extensive cast. Except the show focuses its attention on each girl while she happens to be nude. Focusing on characterization would be just fine except for the sexual objectification and the fact that the girls’ dialogue is strictly either exposition or technobabble. Then the episode gets really dumb. Lead character Saya apologizes for disobeying orders and hurting her commander then immediately blames her lack of promotion on her commander. Clearly Saya doesn’t understand the basic principle that good work reaps reward while disobedience and failure doesn’t. The narration explains that the five worlds are collapsing upon each other, leading to the end of the world, redundantly known as “World End.” But the magical girls have been assembled to defend against the Ouroboros that seem to have no relation to the collapsing worlds. Then the episode concludes with Saya again not taking personal responsibility for her own mistakes but rather drastically over-reacting to a loss in the first of what should be presumed to be many practice matches.

                          Dragon Ball Super episode 51 reminded me of a few nagging concerns I have with the current story continuity. Seemingly Black would have to appear within the next 10 to 15 years from “present day” Dragon Ball Super continuity. So exactly why aren’t Goku & Vegeta present in the future? Furthermore, I’m just slightly confused and annoyed that Mai seems to have forgotten that she’s the oldest character in the core cast. She’s a couple of years older than Bulma.

                          Evidently I was correct to be wary of watching 10 Cloverfield Lane on my own. I figured that if it proved to be underwhelming, at least I could mitigate my frustration if I watched it with company. So I watched the film with two friends. On the positive side, the film’s trailers only reveal roughly the first third of the movie. On the downside, the remaining two-thirds don’t get much smarter or more exciting. For the most part, what you see is what you get because a major plot point in the middle of the film goes unexplained, and the characterizations are uneven. The film tells viewers that Howard & Emmett have known each other for, presumably, a year or more. Yet during the course of the film they interact as though they’ve just met. Michelle claims that she always runs away from difficulties, yet she repeatedly proves herself to be extremely resourceful and assertive in the face of difficulty. The film does have a payoff, but the climactic reveal is so poorly staged that it lacks any impact. The acting throughout is just fine. The film is kneecapped by a script more concerned with creating uncertainty than creating logical, believable characters and situations, and directing that’s stylish but lacking in focus and structure.

                          Writer/director Mike Flanagan’s self-described “supernatural drama” film Before I Wake (original title: “Somnia”) suffers from Flanagan’s insistence on trying to make the film a “non-horror” horror film. As the friend I watched the movie with said afterwards, “What part of that is not a horror film?” The movie ultimately has two weaknesses. First, it squanders its potential. Central character Cody’s dreams come true, yet he seemingly only dreams of four things: butterflies, the school bully who intimidates him, his foster parents’ deceased son, and his personal boogyman. Like Flatliners that squandered its opportunity to depict wondrous, unimagined vistas, this film has the potential to envision literally anything, yet it limits itself to such a small variety of mostly mundane things. Second, Flanagan’s script is set in a realistic modern day yet is so preoccupied with trying to be a “fable” that it doesn’t bother to realistically adhere to believable everyday motivations, reactions, and circumstances. So the film wants viewers to respond to the film seriously even when the film itself doesn’t treat its characters or situations seriously. Thus the movie creates a sense of incredulity that keeps viewers distant and disengaged with the film. Despite the director’s vehemence, this is a horror film, and it would have been a stronger film had the director just committed to making it a horror film instead of deliberately trying to make it a film of half-measures.

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                          • Watched Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan shorts 6 & 7.

                            I’m shocked over a few elements of the first episode of Active Raid 2. I’m shocked by the laziness of the episode composition, as it’s essentially just a carbon copy of the first episode of the original series: an adolescent in a power suit runs amok, and the police have a time-limit to stop the delinquent. While the first episode had one new transfer employee, the second season debut episode gets two transfer employees. One of the new employees, Marimo, claims to suffer from scopophobia, yet her bow is so prostratingly low that she literally introduces herself butt first, which not only draws excess attention that she’s trying to avoid, it also suggests scopophilia. The idea that the episode is both encouraging and shaming viewers for looking at a female as a sex object gets reinforced when Marimo puts on glasses that blur the eyes of the men who are looking at her, as if suggesting that it’s okay for men to stare at her body so long as the men remain anonymous viewers. I don’t really mind that the police power suits weren’t clearly identified as law enforcement during the first season because they were prototype outfits. But by the second season the police “willwear” still aren’t obviously distinguishable from the similar suits that terrorists and criminals use. Furthermore, I’m struck by police officer Rin stating the honest yet very un-PC sentiment that borders on racism, “It’s a pain that they can’t keep it [terrorism] within their own countries.”

                            The RS Keikaku -Rebirth Storage- TV special is essentially a pilot. The first half of the episode aggravated me a bit with its logical inconsistencies, but the second-half reveal did a functional job of explaining and justifying the seeming plot holes.

                            Watched the first two episodes of Neko mo, Onda-ke. This is distinctly a mainstream-targeted show because its production quality is so minimal that it can’t be taken seriously as legitimate otaku-oriented anime. It’s a slice-of-life show about a family adopting a cat. The art design is only marginally better than stick figures, and the animation quality resembles hastily composed amateur animation.

                            Watched the first two episodes of DLE's gag anime Asa da yo! Kaishain. While the show is certainly weird, it's sort of within a predictable range of weirdness from DLE.

                            In one regard, the third Aria the Avvenire OVA offers an interesting look at the relationships between multiple generations of the story’s cast. On the other hand, this third OVA is largely a franchise epilogue that virtually requires an intimate familiarity with the entire franchise for the episode to reach its maximum effectiveness.

                            Watched the first episode of Danganronpa 3 Mirai Hen.

                            Watched Show By Rock Short episode 2.

                            Execution absolutely saves Mob Psycho 100. The narrative about a fraud teacher whose student is a genuine prodigy isn’t new. It’s the same conceit that underlies Dragon Ball’s Mr. Satan. But in this case studio Bones, following in the footsteps of Madhouse’s One Punch Man, resurrects the spirit of golden age anime to use elaborate animation to tell a simple story with lots of kinetic visual vibrancy and weirdness. And the refreshingly lumpy and simplistic character designs immediately signal that this is an anime concerned more with characterization and story than adhering to contemporary visual tropes and selling tons of merchandise.

                            Watched Days episode 2.

                            Amaama to Inazuma episode 2 is adorable.

                            The second episode of Orange drops a pair of major heartbreaking revelations. Neither of them are big surprises considering what the first episode suggested, but hearing them stated so bluntly is a powerful blow.

                            Judging by its second episode, New Game probably isn't going to get into the detailed minutia of the game development industry, but I don't mind so long as the characterizations stay enjoyable.

                            Re:Zero episode 15 is shockingly, grotesquely violent on a scale that far surpasses even its most gruesome prior episodes, but the intense gore feels even more like window dressing in this episode than any before. The show’s hyper violence has always been a manipulative gimmick used to add unique novelty to a story that doesn’t need it. The suggestion that the series’ world is one of extremes doesn’t really pan out because the positive and pleasant side of life doesn’t reach the euphoric heights necessary to contrast the grotesque depths. Much of the series’ violence has been used for shock value, to convince the audience that the story has weight and consequences when the foundational principle of the story is that the protagonist can always reset the world at will. Episode 15 struggles more than ever before because the violence is extremely grisly, yet it lacks weight because it has no context. The mayhem occurs practically arbitrarily, so viewers have no comprehension of why it occurs or what it means. So the gore evokes a visceral reaction but not an emotional one.

                            In spite of its short length, the second episode of Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu still feels like it lacks focus.

                            Watched the second episode of Bananya.

                            Watched the second episode of Taboo Tattoo. I'm still on the fence.

                            I finally got motivated to watch the third Madoka Magica movie. I have to give credit because it’s a film that earns respect for being a film that legitimately inspires discussion and debate. I’m very conflicted over it because I recognize that it’s simultaneously an excellent and unnecessary film. The original TV series examined the trope of the magical girl to its ultimate natural extrapolation. The “Rebellion” film does the same thing with Akemi Homura’s characterization. So the film isn’t a redundant rehash or a digression. But it also doesn’t strengthen or arguably contribute any positive addition to the TV series’ ending. Because the film is so occupied with once again surprising viewers with opacity and narrative twists, the third film has a lot of logical, rational character development but not a lot of emotion. Viewers can objectively see what’s going on and understand why, but the film deliberately holds back a lot of its sentimentality in order to make its objective points. So the film sort of feels like following up a beautifully tragic fairy tale with a logical and well-written story about how the surviving characters went on to deal with mortgage loans, employment, medical issues, and so forth. The sequel is all relevant and natural but also rather cold, emotionless, and unnecessary. The justification and validity of the decisions and actions Homura makes in “Rebellion” are legitimately debatable, which makes the film objectively interesting. They’re also beautifully illustrated. This film feels like Shaft made the decision that if a sequel as necessary, the studio would make the best sequel possible, but this was still a sequel necessitated by external rather than narrative demands.

                            I watched the first episode of Ultraman Orb out of mild curiosity. Two primary things caught my attention. Jetter is a terrible cameraman, even by amateur Youtube stormchaser standards. When the combined Ultramen’s time limit occurs, their momentary appearance is nightmare inducing.

                            In comic books, read Paper Girls 7, The Discipline 5, The Fix 4, Super Zero 6, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank 2, Street Fighter x G.I. Joe 1-5, Street Fighter Unlimited 2-4, Alpha King 1-2, Outcast 11-12, Devolution 5, Samurai: Isle with no Name 3, Hillbilly 1, and SSBII.

                            Outcast continues to unfold at a glacial pace, but the intensity of the final few minutes of episode 5 pay off the whole episode.

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                            • Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan short 10 is really hilarious because it so perfectly skewers so many anime/manga conventions.

                              Watched Battery episode 1. It's a bit more serious in tone than typical baseball anime but otherwise pretty conventional.

                              Danganronpa 3 Zetsubou Hen episode 1 really isn't quite as interesting as the first episode of "Mirai Hen."

                              Amaama to Inazuma episode 3 is adorably sweet. So far I've assumed that Iida only wants company, but the conclusion of the episode drops a hint that perhaps she does feel some attraction toward Inuzuka-sensei.

                              By episode 3, New Game is clearly a cute girls being cute show rather than a show focusing on the details of game development, but I still enjoy it, regardless.

                              Ironically Berserk is a story about a cursed swordsman, yet it’s viewers who seem cursed to never witness an uncompromised anime adaptation. After a rough first episode, I watched the second TV series’ 2nd to 4th episodes with hope that they’d either improve or at least settle into a decisive style. Unfortunately, the episodes seem to be determined to undermine their strong source material. Episodes two & three lack a lot of linear flow. Poor editing and camera placement, combined with stilted animation transformed Guts’ fight against the Holy Chain Knights from a breathtaking suspenseful and shocking melee into an awkward and stiff routine. Likewise, Guts’ battle against the apostle is poorly blocked out, rendering it largely incomprehensible. Farnese’s torture of Guts should have been a powerful, sickening scene, but the near complete absence of expressive animation in Farnese’s face robs the scene of impact. Farnese’s Barbie doll anatomy is an even greater distraction than graphic nudity would have been because it’s constantly just “wrong.”

                              After watching the second episode of Tenkyou no Alderamin I'm not entirely certain whether the story is simply nuanced or if the characterizations in relation to the scenario presented by the first two episodes are inconsistent and uneven.

                              Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru episodes 2 & 3 break up the episodes into loosely related thirds and expand the cast. Both tactics make these episodes a bit more interesting and fun than the first episode.

                              Especially the first half of Amanchu episode 2 is wonderfully amusing. It reminds me of Gokujou Seitokai, a title that hasn’t crossed my mind in years. Episode 2, on the whole, is pleasant. Episode 3 reveals a distinct influence from Tamayura.

                              Time Travel Shoujo episodes 2 & 3 are a bit more heavy on the educational aspect and still look and feel like early 90's anime.

                              Taboo Tattoo episode 3 was a mild disappointment. Episode 2 concluded with a tense cliffhanger, but episode 3 didn’t pay off the promise very well. Furthermore, Izzy’s logic makes little sense. “Don’t use your tattoo because it may kill you.” Except if Seigi hadn’t used it, he’d already be dead by now. “Don’t use your power to defend yourself. We’ll come save you.” Yet you’ve already proven in the very same episode that you can’t be relied upon to arrive in time.

                              I respect the character development and the ideas that Dragon Ball Super episode 52 is trying to convey to viewers, but I’m still disappointed that the episode’s animation quality is a bit under par, and a good portion of the episode’s art was seemingly drawn by the D-team animators. The episode continues to acknowledge that Gohan has completely lost his fierce fighting edge, but that’s okay because Gohan has simply evolved into an entirely different character.

                              Watched Days episodes 3 & 4.

                              Watched the Okusama ga Seitokaichou OVA.

                              Fukigen na Mononokean episode 3 is predictable but still not bad. Episode 4 is very much a transitional episode.

                              I respect Re:Zero episode 16 because it’s unpredictable. It creates suspense based on the scenarios and relationships that it’s developed rather than relying on arbitrary or cliché plot developments. However, I’m bothered by one particular development in the episode. Crusch’s response to Natsuki’s plea is coldhearted and selfish but reasoned and justified. Barielle’s response, however, doesn’t make sense. Natsuki understands that he’s begging for her assistance with nothing to offer in return. She promises that she’ll consider helping him if he grovels even more. Then she gets offended when he agrees to her demands. Her entire characterization revolves around her always getting her way, so why is she suddenly angry that she gets her way other than because the plot needs her to reject Natsuki? Episode 17 resurrects the niggling annoyance of the series’ early episodes. In multiple ways in episode 17 the “rules,” the cause and effect relationships that the series has established, abruptly change, but viewers still don’t know enough about what’s going on to be able to determine if the sudden changes are believable and organic to the story or if they’re just artificial authorial manipulation. Likewise, viewers can’t tell whether the fantasy world setting has always been such a harsh, self-absorbed, ruthless world or if only recently the world around Natsuki Subaru has become more cynical. The show has never been especially infused with hope, but especially episodes 16 & 17 depict a world in which grotesque tragedy is inescapable, unavoidable, and completely tolerated so long as it’s out of immediate sight. The cliché hero transported to an alternate fantasy world becomes interesting in this tale because the protagonist remains just as weak and vulnerable in his new environs, but lately the show is suggesting that Natsuki is so helpless and ineffectual that even sacrificing his own life is entirely irrelevant. The implication that no choice or action that the protagonist makes has any impact on the larger stage actually reduces the viewer’s empathy and engagement with the story. There’s little reason for us to care about Natsuki if we know that nothing he does, no matter how extreme, ultimately makes any difference whatsoever.

                              I suspect that I may be one of the exceptions that perceives Star Trek Beyond as equal to or even possibly slightly weaker than “Into Darkness.” The film is mostly fun, at least. By now the actors and the new continuity have deftly settled in, so the franchise no longer feels tentative or as if it needs to prove anything, for the most part. So character relationships are more subtle and confident. However, the tonal shift from the film’s introductory sequence to the remainder of the film is jarring. In fact, much of the first quarter of the film narratively and visually feels like it’s trying too hard. Ironically, the film’s climax feels underwhelming in large part because it hinges on a pair of massive logic compromises. Jim Kirk himself states that he wants to confirm that Krall is dead, yet when faced with the opportunity to kill Krall and ensure the safety of millions of lives, Kirk delays. Then the bioweapon that’s already been depicted earlier in the film to be exceedingly fast-acting abruptly attacks very slowly. Throughout the film close-quarters combat scenes are kinetic but largely incoherent. And for better or worse the film’s overt political leanings are remarkably prescient relevant to the current American electoral environment.

                              I've seen some harsh criticism of Game of Thrones season 6, but after watching episodes 4-6, I'm finding the season to be on par with every prior season.

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                              • I have to be honest and admit that although the second episode of Thunderbolt Fantasy has one neat set-piece, I'm a little bit disappointed that the episode isn't as exaggerated as the first episode was. Also watched episodes 3 & 4.

                                Watched New Game episode 4.

                                I continue to recognize what Planetarian episodes 2 & 3 are aiming for, but the effect just isn't totally successful because Yumemi isn't an AI. She's merely an unfeeling robot acting on programmed routines, which makes empathizing with her pointless.

                                Watched Amaama to Inazuma episode 4.

                                Watched Show By Rock Short episodes 3 & 4.

                                The Drifters Special Edition OVA is very stylish, and despite some minor weaknesses in production values, very fun to watch.

                                I took the opportunity to watch the first episode of Studio Pierrot’s 1990 shounen series Edokko Boy Gatten Tasuke because the show was one I was entirely unfamiliar with. It’s a Cocoro Comic manga adaptation. Moreover, every aspect of the show distinguishes itself as early 90’s anime. There’s nothing particularly bad about the show. It’s just unremarkable, feeling distinctly reminiscent of the slightly earlier Momotaro Densetsu and Cats Ninden Tyandee TV series.

                                Watched Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan shorts 11-20.

                                Watched Berserk episode 5.

                                Taboo Tattoo episode 4 is passable. It's not tremendously intelligent, and regrettably by now the show is beginning to reveal that it's cliffhangers don't get paid off with satisfying battle sequences.

                                Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 14-16. It's nice to see Retsuko finally win one in episode 15.

                                Watched Time Travel Shoujo episode 4.

                                Watched Days episode 5.

                                The first half of Rilu Rilu Fairlu episode 16 is very cute because it's pleasant to see a second one of the girls develop a romance. Also watched episodes 17-19.

                                Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 53. It's nice to see the show remember that Goku really is one of the top fighters in the multi-verse.

                                I was just a little bit disappointed by the concluding fourth issue of Divinity II. It has strengths, but it also seems to wrap up a bit too abruptly. Tomboy issue 6 at last reveals and revels in the grim graphic supernatural horror that it’s been promising since the first issue. Reading several recommendations of writer Jeff Lemire’s new comic series Black Hammer convince me to purchase & read a copy. The first issue is reminiscent of yet very different from Watchmen, but merely discussing Black Hammer in a positive light in comparison to Watchmen is rare high praise.

                                Finished off Game of Thrones season 6 episodes 7-10.

                                In summation, the Killing Joke movie is good but not excellent. The art design is simplified, partially deliberately, partially, I suspect, for budgetary reasons. Likewise, sometimes the animation quality is very fluid while other shots are distractingly static or jerky. Noticeably, characters’ pupils frequently don’t move to match the direction of their glances, making the characters look unnatural. And occasional scenes have such limited animation that they're reminiscent of early 80's Filmation cartoons. However, walking and running animation is very well animated in most shots. Batman’s characterization is so stiff that he comes across as virtually robotic. Likewise, the film adheres, in part, a bit too closely to the original comic because the film, like the original comic, lacks some vital expressiveness during Jim Gordon's torture. We never see Gordon descend into temporary insanity. We never get a sense that he feels any powerlessness or desperation or humiliation or resentment. In one moment he's confused; the next moment he's catatonic. To its credit, the first third of the movie subtly takes advantage of its R rating by including a whole lot of adult references including alcohol, prostitution, sex, drugs, and graphic violence that helps establish a mature tone without being especially gratuitous or heavy handed. However, the entire original first third of the film is arguably unnecessary and only present to serve as padding. The film’s first third introduces Barbara Gordon. But in the original comic, Barbara Gordon was merely collateral damage. The Killing Joke was a story about the parallels between Batman & The Joker, not a story about Barbara Gordon or a story about Batman hunting down the Joker to avenge his lover. Particularly with this animated adaptation, the final third of the film has ample opportunity to be morbid, creepy, unsettling, and simply atmospheric, but it really doesn't even make any effort to be so. Separately, I also think that Mark Hamill's voice performance as the Joker is a mixed bag largely because I suspect that the director was too intimidated to be very demanding. Hamill's change of inflection to denote the different periods of Joker's life is excellent, as is much of his recitation as the Joker. However, when Joker first critiques the amusement park there's no cynicism or irony in his voice, so the scene falls flat. More damning, there's not even the most brief pause before delivering the climactic punchline, which ruins the timing and impact of the joke in my ears. Furthermore, the editing lingers just a bit fawningly on Joker's monologues to Jim Gordon, as if the film is starstruck by Mark Hamill's mere participation.

                                Director William Kaufman & star Johnny Strong’s 2010 film Sinners and Saints is one of the criminally overlooked best gunplay action films America has ever produced. The duo’s long awaited second collaboration, Daylight’s End, is a hybrid of Assault on Precinct 13 and 28 Days Later that sadly doesn’t quite live up to Sinners and Saints. For a low-budget indie production, Daylight’s End is solidly acted and shot. The action scenes are well-staged and very frequent. However, even though the film’s emphasis is heavily on action over horror, the script still makes concessions to dumb horror movie tropes. Plot and logic holes aren’t dealbreakers, but many of them are prominent enough to be distracting. Regrettably, a bigger problem is the fact that even though Daylight’s End is literally a post-apocalyptic survival story, it still doesn’t feel as hopeless, as desperate, and as grim as Sinners and Saints did. Despite the film having a substantial body count, the rage zombies never quite feel as threatening as they should.

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