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  • Orange episodes 3-5 are refreshing because they're so honest and believable. The storytelling feels very natural because it avoids the tropes and conventions that seem to be so mandatory in so much of contemporary anime.

    Watched Fukigen na Mononokean episode 5.

    Re:Zero episode 18 is a bit of a characterization mess. Subaru breaks down and cries that heís powerless and helpless, but his inability is a moot point. The show has already demonstrated in excess that any action he takes results the same way. The world around him is going to occur regardless of his actions or inactions. Ultimately, his choice to run away is the correct one because whether he acts or doesnít makes no difference to the greater plot surrounding him. He bemoans having wasted his youth accomplishing nothing, yet even if heíd spent every moment of his existence preparing for his present, heíd still be completely irrelevant to the events that occur around him. The episode feels as if itís trying to convince young viewers to achieve something with their lives, to devote their lives to something, to make something of themselves. Yet the episode also clearly suggests that all the preparation, training, and foresight in the world canít stop the future from occurring the way itís destined to occur. The end of the episode is clearly supposed to be encouraging and heartwarming, but itís hollow hope because Rem doesnít understand the ramifications of what sheís saying. Similarly, Natsuki seems foolish to commit himself to a goal which he already knows has no winning outcome.

    Watched Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru episode 4.

    Momokuri is near unbearably cute, but the story development is also just a bit aggravating because Momo & Yuki have an ideal relationship, yet particularly Momo frequently gets upset because he doesnít think their relationship works the way a ďnormalĒ relationship is supposed to work. Ironically he gets upset because Yuki has no cynicism and trusts him completely when he assumes that ďnormalĒ people would be more suspicious, jealous, and untrusting. Perhaps because heís so young he doesnít comprehend exactly how lucky he is. So Iím glad to see that the web seriesí final episode at last addresses that particular perspective. Watched web episodes 13-26.

    In January 2015 I expressed the hopeful sentiment that Creative Intelligence Arts separating itself from the crowd-funded Under the Dog OVA would be a behind-the-scenes shakeup that would ultimately benefit the anime. Now that the OVA has finally been released Iím uncertain whether the divorce from CIA resulted in a weaker production or if the final product would have been unwatchable had all of the original staff stayed involved. I can definitely say that the end product that viewers got, after the behind-the-scenes staff shakeup, is a very uneven mess. The earliest shots are rather terrible, exhibiting weak character design and stilted animation. At roughly seventeen-and-a-half minutes in, as Hana comes around the corner with her M4, the OVA practically feels as if a different team of animators took over drawing the episode in part because the fluidity and detail increase and moreover because the number of poorly drawn shots diminishes. The bigger problem than the uneven animation quality is the episodeís wildly incoherent narrative. Individuals who may or may not be genetic experiments are being hunted. Whether it was the US or Japanese government that created the ďpandorasĒ is unclear because the US armed force is trying to capture "research subject P," but the episode never specifies whether the US created "research subject P" or previously incarcerated "research subject P." The ďFlowersĒ also appear to be ďpandorasĒ that hunt other rogue pandoras. The OVA never clarifies why the US government wants or doesnít want either the Pandora or the ďwhiteĒ that can presumably cure or destroy the Pandora outbreak. The OVA never clarifies who the Flowers work for nor exactly what their goal is, so the viewer is left to wonder why the Flowers donít work with the US military if they both want to capture the ďwhite.Ē The Japanese government appears to be grudgingly tolerant of both the US military and the Flowers, thus further confusing who is aligned with whom and for what reason. Exactly what Pandoras are and the ďcurseĒ that Hana refers to is never explained. If a ďblackĒ is able to kill another Pandora, I donít know why the Flowers need a ďwhite.Ē And then, apart from holes in the narrative, the entire OVA bears little resemblance to the teaser trailer that was initially used to lure investment from crowd-funding backers. Up until the day the OVA was released, Athena was promoted as the OVAís primary character, yet in the actual OVA sheís little more than a cameo character. The promotional trailers never even hinted at the inclusion of a monster. On the positive side, the OVA does feature very nicely animated accurate tactical firearm use and plenty of nicely animated firefights and property damage. On the other hand, even if this is considered a pilot, itís still largely incoherent and distinctly feels like a very different product than what financial backers agreed to pay for. Oh, I did still get a tiny thrill from seeing my name in tiny print in the lengthy ending credits as a ďcovert operative."

    Watched New Game episode 5.

    Comment


    • Watched Amaama to Inazuma episodes 5 & 6.

      I watched the first four episodes of Taboo Tattoo because the show managed to tip its scales just barely in favor of intense looking action scenes. Ironically, despite their hyperbolic violence, the only participants who ever take severe damage during the battles are the cannon fodder. Even when the main characters receive mortal injuries, they somehow shake off the damage as if it was just a layer of clothing. But episode 5 changes the balance by leaning heavily into absurd stupidity. I would argue that episode 5 changes the rules, but since the show never actually clarified its ďrulesĒ in the first place, left-field twists just seem abrupt rather than ridiculous. However, the idea that the US military engages another country without even knowing its antagonistís goals is absolutely ridiculous. No nation in the history of the world has ever gone to war without at least knowing whether its opponent is a friend or foe. Furthermore, the episode exhibits a laughably oversimplified perception of global leadership. Foreign dictators donít just pop in to visit other countries like anonymous tourists.

      The PreCure All Stars: Minna de Utau, Kiseki no Mahou movie is really a mix of characteristics that could be called strengths and weaknesses. Even by Pretty Cure standards, the film is especially child-friendly. The action is roughly as intense as always, but the simplicity of the narrative, the relative absence of any sense of danger or threat, and the storyís very simplified logic make the film feel more childish than typical of the franchise. Since Pretty Cure is a franchise for children, I canít fault the film. Iím only observing how itís tonally different from many of its preceding films. The narrative may be predictable, but Iím grateful that itís not another Pretty Cure get transported to ďXĒ themed land adventure. As a musical, the movie is moderately effective. Of particular note, the scene in which Mirai & Riko confront Sorciere has a strikingly operatic feel as the dialogue is conveyed via song and the framing of the scene feels very much like a stage play. The Princess Precureís first battle scene and Doki Doki Precureís first battle scene are both visually dynamic albeit brief fights. Iím a bit surprised that the Yes! Precure team apart from Nozomi got so little screen time that they virtually werenít even in the film. On the scale of Precure movies, this one ranks in the lower middle.

      On one hand I can say that the first episode of Alien vs Shinnosuke adheres a bit too faithfully to Crayon Shin-chan formula. On the other hand, I can say that Iím grateful that the Amazon produced anime series doesnít get too wildly divergent from what itís supposed to be.

      Watched the first episode of Ore wa Chokkaku. Although it has no relation to the earlier similarly titled Ore wa Teppei, the series' tone is comparable to the earlier show.

      Judging by its first episode, the 1967 Kaminari Boy Pikkaribee TV show is a rather weird comedy aimed at children. Bee appears to be an oni who's also a water fairy. He can't speak. A typical Japanese family is initially afraid of him until the grandmother adopts him as a sort of pet. The episode isn't tight on logic, nor is its animation quality very good, but it is imaginative and contains enough slapstick physical humor to stay entertaining.

      Watched Days episode 6. The show is beginning to remind me of a sort of sports version of To Heart because all of the characters are so considerate and insightful.

      Judging by its first episode, the 1991 Marude Dameo television series is a slight variation of the Dr. Slump, Robotan, Hai Step Jun formula. Essentially it's Osomatsu-kun with only two brothers, and one of them is a robot. It could also be called Doraemon in which the robot is just as inept as the boy.

      The 1995 Mojako TV series is yet another Fujiko F. Fujio manga adaptation. It's a pleasant children's anime. The opening and ending credits sequences exhibit slightly above average animation quality for their age. The body of the first episode is cute looking and has nice color design. The show isn't remarkable, but it's mildly cute and reasonably enjoyable.

      Watched Amanchu episodes 4 & 5.

      Watched Berserk episode 6.

      Watched Fukigen na Mononokean episode 6.

      Watched New Game episode 6.

      Watched Rilu Rilu Fairilu episodes 20 & 21. Episode 21 may be the most interesting episode to date because it not only begins the story arc that the whole series has been building up to, it also introduces a hint of seriousness that the show hasn't suggested before.

      Watched Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru episode 5.

      Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 54.

      Perhaps Iím too cynical, but Planetarian just didnít work for me. As soon as episode 4 started, Yumemiís fate was obvious. The entire point of the five episode series is to create empathy for Yumemi, but objectively the effort just doesnít work because Yumemi isnít human. Even though the story occasionally cheats a little and tries to give her some genuine personal emotion, she has no comprehension of pain, sorrow, or loss. She canít fully comprehend or exhibit any of the characteristics that would make her genuinely sympathetic.

      Watched Mahoutsukai Precure episodes 10-12

      Watched Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan weekly episode 5.

      Watched Time Travel Shoujo episode 5.

      Ninjak issue 17 is an impressive culmination of the story up to this point. Also read The Discipline #6, Paper Girls #8, Public Relations issues 9 & 10, and the admirably retro first issue of Guns of the Black Bat. In a local comic store's dollar boxes, I found the first issue of Chip Zdarsky's Prison Funnies, so I bought & read it.

      Yoshihiro Nishimuraís film The Ninja War of Torakage may genuinely qualify was one of the rare films thatís so bad it becomes good. The movie is a campy childrenís cartoon filled with slapstick comedy, poop jokes, ridiculous gags including the hero scampering around in a boar costume making ďbuhiĒ noises, and plenty of singing. The movie also includes some suggestive sensuality, a fair amount of gratuitously bloody violence, some horror movie imagery, and even bizarre satirical cinema meta-humor. The filmís tone is literally all over the place. Characterization is minimal and inconsistent. Protagonist Torakage is presented as some sort of legendary ninja, yet heís routinely defeated. His ninja wife is beyond useless. Several plot developments throughout the film make absolutely no sense. The movie is a train wreck, yet it maintains such as sense of crazy energy that itís difficult to completely dismiss.

      Comment


      • Watched Kuromukuro episodes 13-18.

        Mahoutsukai Precure episode 13 had a much better animated battle scene than typical of the show. I wonder a bit if the episode varied from formula just a bit. Typically the villains summon monsters to serve their goals or to defeat Cures when Pretty Cures interfere. Or the villains will periodically attack the Cures out of a sense of vendetta. But I think itís quite rare for the villains to attack the Cures without any immediate provocation, just to be jerks.

        Watched Rilu Rilu Fairlu episode 22-24. Finally seeing Rose express some genuine emotion besides frustration in episode 23 was sweet. Episode 24, I have to say, felt a little bit like an unsatisfying cheat.

        Watched Days episode 7.

        Berserk episode 7 is a moderately interesting one because it's exciting and grotesque.

        Watched Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 5-6.

        Watched Re:Zero episodes 19 & 20.

        Watched Amanchu episode 6.

        Watched Fukigen na Mononokean episode 7.

        Watched Crayon Shin-chan Gaiden episode 2.

        Watched Amaama to Inazuma episode 7.

        New Game episode 7 varied its setting and formula just a bit and I think became a bit weaker of an episode as a result.

        I realized that I hadn't finished watching the Wooser anime, so I finished off season 3 episodes 9-13 and also watched the season 1 "Wooser no Sono Higurashi Ken to Pantsu to Wooser to" bonus episode. The season 3 finale that parodied Blade Runner & John Carpenter's The Thing may be one of the greatest parody anime episodes ever.

        Watched the Chinese fan animated Tohou OVA "Hifuu Club Activity Record -The Sealed Esoteric History- (Moon)." Early on the animation quality is a little stiff, but otherwise the production is impressive looking. However, seemingly typical of Tohou doujin anime, it doesn't seem to make much sense to viewers that aren't extensively expert in Tohou back story.

        The first episode of the web anime mini-series Onizushi is wildly visually inventive and hyperkinetic.

        Bought and read the 13th volume of Yotsuba to! manga.

        My local comic store finally acquired a copy of Hillbilly issue 2, so I purchased and read it. As a fantasy adventure itís not nearly as complex and richly mythological as something like Monstress, but it does have its own rustic charm. I also bought and read the 10th issue of Providence. On one hand the purpose of this issue seems a bit more straightforward and clear. On the other hand, the entire series continues to feel like literary masturbation, as Alan Moore continues to dump a staggering wealth of Lovecraftian history and reference into this series primarily just to satisfy himself rather than create a compelling story for readers. This issue also ends with the seriesí latest sequence that feels like grotesque sexual pandering strictly for shock value. WicDiv issue 22 doesnít provide answers to the questions generated by the prior 21 issues, but it does provide a fairly definitive transitional resolution. Aliens: Defiance issue 3 continues to look and feel exactly like what an ideal Aliens prequel should be. Black Hammer issue 2 is just as compelling and intriguing as the first issue. The Spawn Kills Everyone one-shot was a pretty substantial disappointment because I bought in hoping and expecting to see Spawn slaughter other heroes and anti-heroes, not SDCC attendees in superhero cosplay. So instead of getting gratuitous superheroic splatter, readers get an ultra-stupid protagonist slaughtering clueless & helpless innocents. Read Ninjak issue 18.

        I got around to reading the first issue of artist Corey Lewisí Shounen Jump inspired anthology comic Sun Bakery. I want to acknowledge Lewisí enthusiasm and his gusto to actually get his indie comic effort published. However, itís terrible. Sun Bakery is a low-rent descendent of Brandon Grahamís Multiple Warheads that lacks any of the originality, creativity, and inspiration of Grahamís artwork. The first third of Sun Bakery issue one is a deliberate ďhomageĒ of Metroidís Samus Aran, here named ďArem,Ē playing Pokemon Go. The second chapter is a nonsensical hybrid of Bleach (or One Pieceís Tashigi & Zorro) with Evangelion. The third chapter is merely a manga-esque reimagining of Homer Simpsonís skateboard leap across Springfield Gorge. The comic references the manga aesthetic and constantly employs internet slang writing including examples such as ďdream skills,Ē ďÖwhich u can guess is full of much terror and realness,Ē ďWhat was that all about, BruhÖĒ ďWe buds now,Ē and ďNo wai!Ē In other words, the comic is created in and targeted to the mindset that believes dated, ignorant slang combined with anything vaguely hipster must be cool.

        On the other hand, the first issue of writers Michael R. Martin & Adam J. Orndorf and illustrator Roy Allen Martinezís horror comic Blood & Dust: The Life & Undeath of Judd Glenny looks and reads like unpleasant Cajun vampires versus an even more unpleasant Swamp Thing. Itís an intriguing first issue that has me eager to read more.

        Read the first issue of writer Jonathan Hickmanís new comic series The Black Monday Murders. Itís an opaque thriller that proposes that the highest levels of human financial transactions are actually the ongoing Faustian bargain with the god Mammon. The comic is dense and complex but thankfully not as pretentious as Ales Kotís comic series Wolf. The comic is clearly researched. Itís also rather dry and even a bit weirdly sterile despite including a bloody ritualistic murder. It really has me on the fence.

        Read the first issue of writer Brian Woodís new comic series Briggs Land primarily because Iím curious about it getting optioned for an AMC TV series before the first issue even hit newsstands. The first issue is a competent but not tremendously compelling rural militia compound vs. government conflict story. Itís timely, and it takes care to individually characterize its characters. Itís also so realistic that itís not really very exciting or compelling.

        Comment


        • The Durarara x2 Ketsu episode 19.5 OVA is a nice fun slice of divergent silliness.

          Watched Konobi episode 7.

          Watched Time Travel Shoujo episodes 6 & 7. The show continues to look and feel exactly like a recovered relic from the early 1990s. Episode 7 uncharacteristically included one very brief comical scene that was subtle and relied upon the audience to catch the joke instead of being hysterical and slapstick. Even though the gag partially spoiled itself by literally explaining itself immediately afterword, itís still a frustrating example of how a good show could be so much better.

          Watched Berserk episode 8.

          Watched the Saki side-story OVA Saki Biyori.

          The first episode of Otona no Ikkyuu-san is only barely animated, and it's just a single extended poop joke.

          Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 55.

          Watched the Gundam Build Fighters Try Island Wars special.

          Watched Amaama to Inazuma episode 8.

          New Game episode 8 is back to formula and feels like a stronger episode than the previous one.

          Watched Kuromukuro episodes 19 & 20. Now that the series conclusion is presumably within sight, episode 20 was a particularly exciting & revealing episode.

          Read the fifth domestic volume of Satoko Kiyudukiís Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro. As usual, some segments of the story are abstract and opaque, yet the manga series remains one of my most favorite because itís such an adorably cute story while being tremendously morbid, melancholy, and obsessed with decay, breakdown, and death. It evokes the look and the feel of a fairy tale by the Grimm brothers Ė whimsical and childlike yet shot through with grief, tragedy, loneliness, and pain.

          The pilot episode of Amazonís Jean-Claude Van Johnson is an amusing riff on JCVD, both the man and the movie. Itís satirical fun although seemingly largely to be a one-trick pony. The story works very well in a half-hour, but Iím hard pressed to imagine it staying interesting if it were a multi-episode series.

          Finished off the third and seemingly final season of Penny Dreadful. The show manages to end without the groan-inducing terribly unfulfilling conclusion that seems to plague so many multi-season cult programs, but I canít call the denouement entirely successful either. The exits of Lily, Dracula, and Frankensteinís monster all seem underdeveloped. The show spent arguably a season and a half building up Lucifer as an existential threat to Vanessa only to casually discard that plot thread. Likewise, the show spent roughly a season and a half touting Ethan as Godís holy terror only to have that promise feel very underdeveloped. In fact, the entire three seasons distinctly felt like an intriguing concept that excelled at creating atmosphere but came up just a bit short on every other front. I wonít call the show a failure, but it sadly wasnít a masterful success, either.

          Watched Outcast episode 6. I do like the show, and it appreciate its atmosphere, but I'm also aware that it moves so slowly because the original comic series unfolds at a snail's pace, and the TV series doesn't want to run out of material to adapt.

          To its dubious credit, the Turkish horror film Baskin bears a remarkable similarity to director Rob Zombieís first two features. Baskin revolves around five Turkish police officers. The youngest and most handsome of the bunch is obviously the filmís hero. Heís accompanied by his uncle who is also the protagonistís spiritual guide & guardian, an unstable officer who will obviously be the first to go, and a pair of distinctly unpleasant officers that take pleasure in exploiting the authority of their office. The five officers unwittingly descend into a grotesque twilight zone of depravity, violence, occultism, and madness. To its credit, the movie is evocative looking and occasionally even just a bit creepy, although it relies a bit heavily on its evocative soundtrack. However, the five victims range from unlikable to bland, denying the film of any empathy. Furthermore, the film falls into a sad clichť trap of incorporating a heavy supernatural element that ultimately doesnít pan out. Despite the abundant emphasis the film places on the supernatural, the occult influences ultimately have no point or purpose in the film. First time feature director Can Evrenol definitely demonstrates a competence behind the camera, but grisly shots of bloody flesh, dirty writhing bodies, and plenty of chains aíla Hellraiser are just a grotesque music video montage when a cohesive and comprehensible script is lacking.

          Kubo and the Two Strings is a wonderful film on multiple levels. The visual artistry is magnificent. The stop-motion animation is frequently surprisingly fluid and naturalistic, and the filmís mis en scene is beautiful. The sword battles are infrequent but masterfully choreographed and animated. Moreover, beyond being set in ancient Japan, the film has a clear grasp of the fundamental characteristics of Japanese storytelling. The importance and moreover meaning of family is a heavy theme in the film, presented not just within the primary characters but also in background characters. Respect for the elderly and experienced is also given great weight. The film isnít afraid of dealing with loss and death, and perhaps most praiseworthy, unlike so many other American childrenís films, Kubo understands that a raised eyebrow is far more impactful than a raised voice. The movie relies on wit, subtlety, implication, and intelligence to communicate its ideas, characterizations, and humor, never stooping to lowest common denominator slapstick or the need to bluntly explain its jokes. Itís a film very accessible to children that doesnít dumb itself down for children. To its credit, itís also a movie fully committed to respecting its message and themes rather than compromise to convention, so it doesnít end the way viewers would expect it to. Rather than rely on the conventional, predictable climax, Kubo does its own thing, and the movie is much better for it. If Iím pressed to identify a flaw in the film, while numerous critics have cited a flagging pace in the middle of the movie, Iíll say that I didnít mind the pacing but did find that the path of young Kuboís heroís quest was laid out tremendously, even artificially conveniently. The location of the third item Kubo searches for, in particular, seems to be so conveniently placed that its placement doesnít actually make logical sense.

          Comment


          • Watched Fukigen na Mononokean episode 8.

            The first episode of 1965's Yusei Shounen Papi is typical of its era. It's very similar to shows like Uchuu Ace and Tetsuwan Atom. In the first episode I do think it's quaint that Riko thinks she'll be able to extinguish an oil field fire with a household fire extinguisher.

            The pre-opening sequence of Amanchu episode 8 was hilarious, and the whole episode was pleasant. Also watched episode 9.

            Watched the action-filled Kuromukuro episode 21.

            Watched Berserk episodes 9 & 10.

            Watched Crayon Shin-chan Gaiden episodes 3 & 4. The story is getting much more suspenseful; however, I still don't understand how Hiroshi got back to the room.

            Watched Time Travel Shoujo episode 8.

            Watched Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 7 & 8.

            Vintage anime about freewheeling juvenile delinquents are pretty common, but typically they include some additional gimmick. The forgotten 1971 show Kunimatsu-sama no Otoridai does eventually fall into the martial arts genre, aligning it near identically to shows including Ore wa Teppei, Ore wa Chokkaku, and Inakappe Taisho. But its first episode lacks any formal kendo in the same way that the first episode of Ashita no Joe lacks any boxing. So the first episode feels much more like a slapstick comedy, like a toned-down Tensai Bakabon rather than a sports anime. In fact, while Kunimatsu-sama no Otoridai is actually a color remake of Harisu no Kaze, it also feels as if it was remade itself as Ore wa Teppei. On a technical note, itís amusing to watch Kunimatsuís characteristic x-shaped facial scar constantly move from side-to-side on his face to always stay in view.

            By episode 7 Orange has established itself as one of the finest anime series in years. Watching multiple episodes in succession is difficult, though, because as much as the episodes are beautiful, theyíre also gut-wrenching. The most apt and easiest comparison to make is that Orange is a very slightly less hyperbolic and slightly less heartbreaking version of AnoHana. Ironically, even though the characters of Orange spend of great deal of time lying to each other, they do so out of compassion for each other. Their attitudes and actions consistently feel heartfelt and honest, which gives the story a beautiful naturalism thatís missing from so much contemporary anime thatís beholden to popular tropes and expectations. But itís precisely the natural anxieties, uncertainties, and conflicts of desire that exist within the characters that flesh out their relationships and make the show so emotionally complex. AnoHana occurs after a friend has passed away, so the remaining characters can only deal with their grief and regret. Orange is simultaneously less grim and more complex because the characters still have the ability to prevent the death, except preventing the death isnít as simple a matter as just ensuring that someone doesnít take a wrong step. The show is about not just altering one characterís personality and mindset but altering the frame of mind of all of the characters during a time in their lives when theyíre most emotionally unstable.

            Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 17-21.

            Watched Days episodes 8-10.

            Watched New Game episode 9.

            I doubt anyone would call Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV a flawless movie, yet itís still definitely the best CG video game feature so far, distinctly outpacing Final Fantasy: Spirits Within & Advent Children, Tekken: Blood Vengeance, or any of the Biohazard films. Despite being a prequel to Final Fantasy XV, the two-hour feature still packs in too many characters and too much story for its own good. As a result, the movie isnít able to fully develop any of its characters. However, for over a decade Iíve wondered why a video game adaptation CG feature hasnít attempted to simply turn the spectacle of game cut scenes into a narrative feature. ďKingsglaiveĒ finally does that, giving viewers a visual treat of spectacular imagery and literally fantastic action.

            Watched Konobi episodes 8 & 9.

            Since I'm so used to most contemporary anime relying on cliches or absurd plot developments, the fact that Re: Zero episode 21 wrapped up its conflict in a relatively convincing fashion felt refreshing and satisfying. Also watched episode 22.

            Watched all 10 episodes of the charming Honobono Log.

            Watched Amaama to Inazuma episode 9.

            Watched Rilu Rilu Fairlu episodes 25 & 26.

            Persona 5 episode 0 is predictably nice looking. Conceptually it's also significantly different from the prior few Persona series, which makes it a bit interesting.

            Watched the Jaguars vs Bengals pre-season game.

            Setting aside the fact that Kickboxer: Vengeance is an entirely unnecessary remake, itís not bad. To its credit, David Bautistaís Tong Po is slightly more dignified and honorable than the caricature of evil portrayed by Michel Qissi in the 1989 original. The remake does a commendable job of subtly depicting protagonist ďKurt SloaneísĒ fighting techniques getting sharper, quicker, and stronger as the film unfolds. And the film exhibits a praiseworthy respect for the original while updating it slightly. David Bautista and JCVD demonstrate why theyíre stars of a higher caliber than lead actor Alain Moussi, as the degree of charisma and character expressed by the supporting stars far outshines the lead. The downsides of the film are that itís such a faithful remake that it distinctly feels pointless. Furthermore, the fight and action choreography & editing arenít the worst Iíve ever seen, but theyíre also more concerned with evoking a dynamic camera than with capturing the pugilism. And the film includes an entirely unnecessary and pointless romance sub-plot thatís barely present and contributes nothing besides a few artistic boob shots.

            Hard Target 2 ends up being a midling DTV action film. It simply doesn't have the budget to be as thrilling as the original, and its few stylistic nods to the original are so obvious that they border on parody.

            Comment


            • Dragon Ball Super episode 57 includes some impressive animation by Dragon Ball standards, but I'm still bothered that considering what's happened before and Goku's battle with Beers, the power levels in episodes 56 & 57 don't seem to make senese.

              Orange episodes 8-10. Episode 9 is a shock because its animation quality and especially its foreground art were obviously handled by the b-team. Character art through much of the episode is simply ugly, and sloppy art makes Suwa's small scratches look like traumatic wounds.

              Watched Amaama to Inazuma episode 10.

              The first episode of Nanatsu no Taizai ~Seisen no Shirushi~ picks up immediately where the TV series ended so, as a result, isn't tremendously exciting. The second episode is more exciting, yet its primary battle scene still falls short of the best action scenes from the TV series.

              The slow motion sequence in New Game episode 10 was amusing.

              With less than 15 minutes of story, the 2014 short film Kushimitama Samurai doesnít contain a lot of substance, but it does include possibly the most elaborately choreographed swordplay Iíve ever seen. The animation quality isnít top notch, but the intricacy of the fighting itself is more extensive than anything in Stranger, any Zatoichi movie, or even any wuxia movie Iíve ever seen.

              Watched Fukigen na Mononokean episodes 9 & 10. This isn't a great show, but episode 10 is especially weak because it never bothers to explain why the mud causes yokai to enlarge, or why it causes them to selectively enlarge.

              Watched Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan weekly episodes 6-9.

              Watched Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu episodes 3-10.

              The Kaze no Matasaburou short film relies heavily on its simplified yet charming art design and its score to evoke a whimsical tone. While the short feels a bit comparable to rural-set stories like Welcome to the Space Show and Non Non Biyori, it has its own identity. It's pleasant but maybe just a bit too understated.

              Finally got around to watching Bikini Warriors episodes 7-12.

              The 2015 Anime Mirai short Aki no Kanade feels more like a pilot than many of these shorts do, but thatís an observation rather than a complaint. In tone the episode is very conventional. In subject focus itís interesting because itís the only anime about taiko that I know of, excluding Taiko no Tatsujin which isnít exactly ďaboutĒ taiko but rather ďisĒ taiko.

              The Ongaku Shoujo short has nice animation quality and an unusual color design that seems to virtually glow. However, the story unfortunately builds up to a concert performance thatís just not very good. The song isnít catchy, and the two vocalistsí voices donít harmonize well at all.

              Berserk episode 11 is a powerful one.

              Read a few comics. The first issue of writer Greg Pakís Kingsway West is so preoccupied with setting up backstory that it compromises characterization and relationships. The comic is about a legendary gunslinger searching for his missing wife. The first issue depicts the outlaw first meeting the woman. Then it time skips past the couple getting to know each other, getting married, living together. Even the wife being abducted or somehow going missing gets skipped over. Itís difficult for readers to care about a character met only briefly many years, in story continuity, prior. The first issue of the Equilibrium comic does an admirable job of depicting a logical scenario that follows the 2002 movie. But the comic also demonstrates that much of the beauty of Equilibrium lay in its action, its motion. The comic uses graphic gore to try to compensate for the fact that roughly four pages of action scenes arenít sufficient to illustrate the sense of speed and fluidity necessary to capture the action of the original movie. The first issue of Valiant Comicsí Generation Zero is devoted entirely to introducing the setting, so itís hard to critique on its own. The fourth issue of Aliens: Defiance slows the pace but sets up a number of plot threads to develop further. Henchgirl issue 10 is another of the seriesí periodic excellent issues. Tomboy issue 7, at last, fully fulfills the seriesí promise of serious, morbid and grotesque crime thriller revolving around a magical girl. The second issue of Blood & Dust could be called a success since it left me wanting to continue reading. Paper Girls issue 9 finally begins to provide some beginning explanations. I hadnít previously heard of the Molen Bros.í twisted dystopic satire comic universe ďThe Aftermath,Ē so I picked up the first issue of ďThe Aftermath: Big CleanĒ out of curiosity. The first issue strictly introduces the setting, but the comic is unmistakably ďHeavy MetalĒ material. Itís grimy, depraved, satirical, vaguely European in tone and theme, and wildly visually overstuffed.

              A friend & I watched Stranger Things season one in two sittings. Iím pleased that in the latter half of the show several times I predicted minor plot developments correctly. Iím not proud of myself. Rather, Iím pleased by the evidence that the screenwriting made natural, rational, and intelligent decisions. Iím also as giddy as anyone to see prominent genre homages such as the Evil Dead one-sheet. However, strictly speaking, I do think theyíre a bit out of place because particularly movies like Jaws and Evil Dead are objectively a bit too intense for kids of the protagonistsí ages, especially if Will may not be age appropriate even for Poltergeist. Furthermore, if Iím not mistaken, in 1983 Evil Dead hadnít even begun to develop its cult following yet.

              I usually only watch NFL games live, but I made an exception when watching a replay of the Bucs pre-season loss to the Redskins.

              Comment


              • I finally motivated myself to finish off Yoru no Yatterman episodes 10-12. While the show does manage to explain itself and tie up loose ends, it still doesn't especially feel cohesive. And the animation quality of episode 12 is the worst I've seen in a while. It's not a Wizard Barristers episode 12 train wreck, but it lacks continuity, and clearly a handful of cuts were animated very well and just recycled to death throughout the episode.

                Watched Time Travel Shoujo episodes 9 & 10.

                The Fairies Story 3 PV contained within New Game episode 11 is pretty neat. I have to admit that I think Yagami is more attractive with her hair down and her wearing her usual, casual clothing than when sheís made up to look more feminine. Her customary look expresses so much more of her natural personality. And Iím surprised that seemingly so late in the series episode 11 got a new ending credits animation sequence. Also watched episode 12. Oh, Hazuki is definitely best girl.

                Kotori really does look good in witch cosplay in Amaama to Inazuma episode 11. Also watched episode 12.

                Watched Amanchu episodes 10-11.

                Watched Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 9-11.

                Watched Aggressive Retsuko episode 23.

                Watched Re: Zero episodes 23-25.

                Watched Days episode 11 and 12.


                Suwa is such a nice guy in Orange episode 11 that it's painful. His decisions really pull at the heartstrings.

                Watched the third episode of Nanatsu no Taizai: Seisen no Shirushi.

                The first of the three 1994 Susume! Godzillaland OVAs is an educational episode for young children. Godzilla & Anguirus donít know how to read, so Baragon, Ghidrah, Mothra, and Rodan teach them hiragana. The episode also teaches viewers that Rodan is a dick.

                Over the past few years weíve gotten plenty of shounen anime for young viewers. Shows including Penguin no Mondai, Hero Bank, Net Ghost PiPoPa, Croket, Kamizawa Wanda, Konjiki no Gash Bell, Oshiri Kajiri Mushi, Omakase! Miracle Cat-dan, but no such show has been as immediately and obviously targeted at young kids as Heybot since 2003ís Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. The showís very first shot features a fart gag, and crude bodily humor is prominent in the pre-credits sequence. Actaully, on second thought, in terms of narrative construction, Heybot appears to borrow heavily from other anime targeted at the same demographic. But in terms of visual weirdness, this show may actually surpass even Bobobo-bo and Papuwa-kun.

                I wonder why it took so long for an anime like Dream Festival to hit Japanese airwaves. The show is a male incarnation of Aikatsu. Considering how successful Aikatsu has been, in retrospect it seems odd that a gender-swapped copycat didnít surface a few years ago.

                Author/artist Berke Breathedís latest picture book, The Bill the Cat Story, is almost disappointingly brief, and Mike Binkleyís design looks a bit deformed. But the book still has the signature Bloom County charm, managing to still insert just a bit of sly satirical wit such as papering pacifist Binkleyís bedroom with war plane wallpaper. And while the story does seem to slightly rewrite Bill the Catís origin, it still largely leaves open the possibility of remaining faithful to the original Bloom County story continuity.

                In comic books, read The Fix issue 5. The first issue of Doom Patrol (2016) is quite abstract in the sense that it introduces a selection of characters with tenuous connections. It's mildly interesting because it's so random and unpredictable, but that amorphous vagueness also works against the book. The first "floppy" issue of JP Roth's Ancient Dreams is highly reminiscent of other underground adult-oriented comics like The Crow, Cry For Dawn, and Faust in the sense that it proposes a vast, epic setting, includes plenty of macabre imagery, and features very overwrought writing. In effect, there's actually barely any substance to the comic. Practically the entire issue is loosely relevant back-story told via prose with only two scenes actually illustrated in comic form. And one of those scenes is so brief that it practically has no meaning. To its credit, the comic's graphic art is attractive. Read the Wicked+Divine 1831AD special. Exactly how interesting it is will depend upon whether its plot developments affect the ongoing story. Read Black Hammer issue 3.

                Watched the Bucs win their opener over the Falcons, the Giants narrowly defeat the Cowboys, and the Patriots narrowly beat the Cardinals. Watched the Steelers defeat the Redskins, and the 49ers shut out the Rams. Watched the Jets beat the Bills in a wild game. Watched the Eagles spank the Bears on Monday night. Watched the Patriots humiliate the Texans.

                Comment


                • Finished off Amanchu episode 12.

                  From its outset, Time Travel Shoujo was not a brilliant show, but it really weakens during its final episode. Antagonist Mikageís argument that science without commercialization is merely self-gratification is actually a far more accurate observation than Mariís strained claim that scientific exploration is a universal motivation and commerce merely exploits othersí creations while science builds upon othersí creations. Mikage is also correct in his accusation that Eiji is a hypocrite, and that Eijiís exploitation of circumstances seems justified in his own narrow perspective doesnít automatically make such self-serving decisions moral. Furthermore, whatís presented as a happy, just ending is actually practically the worst possible thing that the seriesí heroes could have done. Ultimately, the anime falls into the trap of assuming that whatever the heroes did must have been right because the heroes are "good" people. However, the actions and decisions Mari, her family, and her friends made were actually not entirely morally justifiable.

                  Watched Fukigen na Mononokean episodes 11-13. I'm a little bit disappointed that the show was so concerned with staying moderately episodic that it never got around to really diving into the back story that it constantly tiptoed around.

                  Watched the Non Non Biyori Repeat OAD, the second Non Non Biyori OAD.

                  The final two episodes of Orange can be called a bit workmanlike as they rather deliberately go about wrapping up the storyís loose ends. But this story is such a character-driven drama that even when it feels a bit heavy-handed, itís still very compelling and affecting.

                  The first two short series of the season reaffirm why I like to get first-hand experience of every anime I can. Since Nyanbo is about cats and is a spin-off from Yotsuba to!, I expected it to be a calm, peaceful, and languid show. Instead, itís stylistically similar to other talking anime shows for children like Omakase! Miracle Cat Dan and Kamizawa Wanda. I expected Kaijuu Girls to follow in the footsteps of Toei Robot Girls and be loud, blunt, and slapstick. Instead, itís admirably restrained and plays like a bizarre Idolmaster spin-off.

                  At the outset of Vivid Strike I was excited by the prospect of a good girl street fighting anime because we havenít gotten one in years. Ikkitousen contains way more drama than fighting, and Fighting Beauty Wulong was successful in spite of itself. Unfortunately, while the episode is entertaining in its simplicity, and the episode does contain some semblance of martial arts, the climactic bout of the episode and the showís seeming focus is actually boxing mislabeled as martial arts. These champion martial arts donít dodge or parry blows at all; they strictly punch & block. Furthermore, the final fight is a bit ridiculous because thereís no trained fighter that couldnít have avoided a blow that takes so long to wind up.

                  Perhaps Iím just jaded, but in the post Madoka Magica & Wixoss world, if a new magical girl anime isnít shoujo-oriented or satire, I immediately begin anticipating a grim plot twist. The majority of the first episode of Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku reminded me of Wixoss in tone because itís entirely serviceable yet feels so bland that it feels as if itís prioritizing a concept rather than characterization. The end of the first episode, however, didnít introduce the predictable dour turn and did actually develop just a bit more characterization. However, the post credits tease did suggest that the typical narrative turn is coming, so I don't know yet what tone this show is going to take.

                  Unlike the very revisionist Yoru no Yatterman, Tatsunokoís Time Bokan 24 is firmly entrenched in tradition. Furthermore, the show really takes to heart the advice that co-protagonist Karen states: ďDonít sweat the small stuff.Ē Continuity and logic are ironically not especially important in this show about accurately recording history.

                  The first episode of Monster Hunter Stories Ride On features the tropes and distinguishing characteristics of the Monster Hunter franchise but stylistically feels distinctly reminiscent of the earlier Maple Story and Tanken Drilland TV series.

                  Read the first issue of the new Image comic series Surgeon X. Itís a bit dry, and it feels like itís more concerned with trying to propose a provocative scenario than tell a compelling story. Despite the main characters being adults, they seem unusually dependent upon their recently deceased mother. Furthermore, protagonist Rosa seems to have shockingly little reaction to having her own life threatened and witnessing a ruthless murder. Publisher Image Comics describes the series as ďdarkly comic,Ē but nothing about the first issue came across as either satirical or humorous to me. It just felt heavy-handed and moderately unbelievable. The first issue of DC Vertigoís post-apocalyptic mini-series Frostbite doesnít quite make sense. For one thing, if the world is frigid, staying indoors might help somewhat. Furthermore I donít understand why people seem to rely on electric heaters instead of just building campfires. However, despite being very derivative of other sci-fi adventure tales Ė in this case Babylon A.D. particularly comes to mind Ė the first issue is fast paced and mildly interesting. Read Ninjak 19. Caught up a bit on Clean Room issues 3-10.

                  My copy of the Bloom County: Episode XI book arrived, so I read it in a few sittings. Predictably, a few of the strips are obvious retellings of original Bloom County gags, and Iím particularly disappointed that the ďErnie DinklefwatĒ storyline seems to get dropped rather than reach any conclusion. But unlike Outland and Opus that both felt like Breathed was struggling to continue a series that heíd lost passion for, this revived 2015 Bloom County resurrects everything that made the original series great. Moreover, subtle evolutions that recognize the time thatís passed, such as Opus occasionally sipping alcohol and Steve slipping into middle age, really enhance the new comic strips.

                  The 2013 dose of post-Road Warrior rip-off nostalgia known as "Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom" is my kind of cheesy fun. Surprisingly, it's actually a bit provocative for YouTube.

                  The Browns vs Dolphins game wasn't pretty, but it was close. Watched all but the delayed final two minutes of the Bucs loss to the Rams. Watched the Cowboys beat the Bears. Watched the Bengals beat the Dolphins. Watched the Panthers literally thow away a game to the Falcons. Watched the Broncos outplay the Bucs.

                  Comment


                  • Watched Kaiju Girls episode 2.

                    Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume episode 1 has a very vibrant energy and a playful variety of characterizations that make it fun viewing.

                    I'm pleased to see that the CG in Koneko no Chii: Ponponra Daibouken isn't as distracting as I feared that it would be. However, the first episode gives me the impression that the animators have never interacted with a real cat before because Chii behaves exactly like a puppy instead of acting like a kitten.

                    Watched the first episode of Gakuen Handsome. It's not as overtly silly as I expected, which may be part of its purpose.

                    Watched the first episode of PePePePengiin.

                    The first episode of Magic-Kyun! Renaissance is a prime example of whatís wrong with typical contemporary anime, particularly galge adaptations. Its art design and animation quality are just fine, and clearly its direction and editing do their best to inject some life into it. But the show lacks individuality and creativity. Plot details may vary, but structurally the plot is identical to similar bishounen anime including UtaPri and Kamigami no Asobi. Kohana is depicted as a once-in-a-lifetime prodigy, except sheís simultaneously a completely ordinary girl (for viewers to easily associate with). The concept of ďmagical artsĒ is a bit ridiculous because it refers to experts so skilled at their craft that their performances seem magical literally instead of figuratively. The first episodeís climactic effort to create tension & conflict is possibly the most artificial and irrelevant that Iíve ever seen in an anime. Moreover, even the post-end credits segment highlights how irrelevant the episode-ending zinger actually is. And on another irrelevant side note, Iím amused that when ďthe kingĒ Ichijoji Teika sings he happens to sound exactly like Barry Manilow.

                    The first episode of Shuumatsu no Izetta sets up a scenario with intriguing potential, but the episode does little to suggest exactly how the forthcoming show will develop.

                    The first episode of Ao Oni is equal parts absurdity and stupidity.

                    The original Working franchise was cute because it was off-kilter. The reboot series WWW.Working escalates into the realm of absurd unreality. Kyoko in the original series was lazy but remotely competent. Sakaki in the reboot is so ignorant that one canít imagine how he managed to get or keep his managerial position. Shiho is ridiculous because sheís seemingly capitulant to any and everyone except Yuta, to whom her personality is schizophrenically opposite. Good will from the original series and from Servant x Service goes a long way toward helping this series, but this new series feels more like a satire of Working than a reboot.

                    Nobunaga no Shinobi was one of the shows of this season that I was most looking forward to. I'm glad to see that the first episode, although brief, was rather amusing.

                    Although Soushin Shoujo Matoi isnít animated by Trigger, it looks and feels a lot like a mainstream exorcism-themed sibling to Uchuu Patrol Luluco.

                    The hour-long Zutto Mae Kara Suki Deshita romance film is essentially a gimmick anime based on a series of Vocaloid songs. Nothing about the film is particularly bad, but a number of small weaknesses compound to strain the movie. The film dives right into the deep end, which is an admirable change from typical shoujo anime. But with nearly ten characters in only 60 minutes of story, three-quarters of the way through the movie is still introducing characters and character relationships. So viewers never get to know any of the characters beneath their most superficial characteristics. Since viewers havenít grown to know and love any of the characters, we donít care if their romantic pinnings work out or not. Moreover, the film is clearly designed to sell its soundtrack, so it relies heavily on pop songs to convey characterization. The core conflict of the film is so clichť that the movie only barely bothers to give it any depth at all, so the whole film feels very rote & forgettable. Thereís absolutely nothing in this film that hasnít been done better before in multiple anime.

                    The first episode of To Be Hero distinctly feels like a natural progression from the foundations created by One Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100. Judging by its first episode, To Be Hero isnít quite as dynamic as its predecessors; itís more conventional in narrative, art design, and animation quality, but it feels as though it draws inspirations directly from both prior shows.

                    Watched the first episode of Anitore XX.

                    Watched Teekyuu season 8 episode 1.

                    The first episode of Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls Galaxy reminds me a lot of the Yamamoto Yohko television series.

                    Cheating Craft may actually be the most ridiculous anime Iíve ever seen. Even shows like Seikon no Qwaser that deal with battling demons through the power of breast milk, and Kyouran Kazoku Nikki that depicts a family that includes a robot, a cat-girl, and a telekinetic squid still seem ironically more logical and sensible than this show. The first episode of Cheating Craft has plot holes large enough to sail the Titanic through them. Iím aware that this show is obviously a goofy satire, yet even typical exaggerated training battle anime like Shougeki no Soma have at least some foundation in believability. Cheating Craft evidently may appeal to a select variety of viewer than me whoís able to entirely suspend every ounce of disbelief and just enjoy the complete frenetic absurdity.

                    The short first episode of Kiitarou Shounen no Youkai Enikki doesn't provide enough substance to really judge the show.

                    Watched Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara season 2 episode 1.

                    Watched the first double-length episode of Hibike! Euphonium 2. I have the same reaction to it that I did to the first series. Itís lovely looking, but even by slice-of-life standards, the show is terribly dull.

                    The first episode of Flip Flappers was a very pleasant surprise. I havenít seen a new anime that so stylistically evoked golden age anime in years. Despite having some obvious narrative parallels to more contemporary anime like Sora no Method and Uta Kata, it seems to draw heavily from Birth, and I also feel tonal similarity to anime including Bosco Daibouken and Carl Vinson.

                    The first episode is difficult to call, but if it's representative of the entire series, Bernard Jou Iwaku may be very amusing because it concentrates on very geeky literary references & humor.

                    The first episode of the Chinese co-produced sci-fi/action/horror TV series Bloodivores is very mediocre. Every aspect of it, including narrative development, characterization, setting, art design, and animation quality, is average at best: not the worst Iíve ever seen, but far from the best.

                    Watched the first episode of Natsume Yuujinchou Go.

                    It's a bit pleasant to see that despite Brave Witches being a parallel reboot, its first episode isn't a complete carbon copy of the original first episode.

                    Aliens: Defiance issue 5 continues to feel exactly like the Aliens sequel I've always wanted. Hillbilly issues 1 & 2 felt like a promising introduction. Issue 3 is the first to feel like a fully satisfying chapter in this Appalachian fantasy lore story. Henchgirl issue 11 encapsulates the odd, schizophrenic tone of the entire series by switching from violence to tragedy to slapstick humor at the drop of a hat. The extra-long final issue does somewhat wrap up the story, yet at the same time it feels merely like the end of a chapter of a longer story.

                    Watched the Steelers humiliate the Chiefs. Watched the Vikings easily defeat the Giants. Watched the Cardinals defeat the 49ers.

                    Comment


                    • Watched Dragon Ball Super 58-61. I'm trying to moderate my eagerness over the show's suggestion that it might finally give us a truly badass Future Trunks. I'm not expecting anything as awesome as SSJ2 Gohan fighting Cell, but a Trunks that isn't totally ineffectual would be rewarding after so many years.

                      The premiere episode of All Out feels a bit more restrained than I expected it to be.

                      The first episode of Nazotokine doesn't provide enough context to really develop a feel for the show.

                      Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru is essentially a lighthearted sibling to Hakuouki. Itís clearly targeted at fujoshi Shinsengumi fans, so I can be only slightly disappointed that the show doesnít make any effort to emphasize the unique histories and characteristics of the anthropomorphized swords. The ďboysĒ make references to their famed prior owners, but nothing is said of their makers or their unique characteristics like handle lengths, blade curvatures, hamon, or tsuba.

                      As expected, Long Riders is practically identical to Bakuon simply replacing motorcycles with bicycles.

                      I can see why Days episode 13 is relevant and necessary, but taken in isolation it's not a very interesting episode. Episode 14 feels more typical, yet it also distinctly reveals the narrative flaw that one has to wonder how Seiseki can be as good as it is with no functional direction or leadership. The team has no tactics. No one tells the players how to improve.

                      Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari was another of the new season shows that I was particularly anticipating. The first episode stretches credibility just a bit with too many coincidences. But it is sweet natured and quite cute.

                      Watched Tiger Mask W episodes 1 & 2. I respect the way the show deliberately evokes the original 1969 series, particularly via its rough, blocky character design and its bloodletting. I'm just glad to see that this new show doesn't have the hideously poor animation quality of the original '69 anime.

                      Although the story is completely different, the tone and humor of Nanbaka feels very reminiscent of Strange Plus.

                      Watched the second episode of Shuumatsu no Izetta.

                      The first episode of the Soul Buster anime can be easily summed up as a hybrid of Persona and Fate/stay night. More precisely, itís a derivative knock-off of Fate/stay night that copies the concept & scenario but triggers the servant summons with cards instead of spells since card collecting is more trendy. And the look of the show is pure Persona.

                      To my surprise, even in untranslated Japanese I found the first episode of 3-Nen D-Gumi Glass no Kamen pretty darn funny.

                      I appreciate the slightly revised character design of Okusama ga Seitokaichou!+! It gives the characters a softer, cuter look.

                      The first episode of Trickster isnít conventionally bad, but even setting aside its roots in literature by Edogawa Ranpo itís still highly derivative. Furthermore, the show struggles to ensure that it aligns to the tone & style of urban bishounen angst adventure series like Bungou Stray Dogs, Un-Go, Karneval, and Dogs. I donít feel the slightest degree of originality or creativity from this show whatsoever. Furthermore, Yoshioís power is completely, annoyingly arbitrary. He seems to unconsciously repel anything that approaches him rapidly, but sometimes things that approach him rapidly arenít repelled. He doesnít seem to be able to control the force field surrounding him except in a single instance when he does (to open an escape route in a wall). But then the final action shot of the episode suggests that his barrier has a will of its own, which would contradict his ability to control it. The size of the barrier changes arbitrarily. And the episode makes an enigmatic plot point of the idea that something inside Yoshioís protective barrier can harm him, except when it canít. The anime frustratingly decides that consistency is irrelevant. The screenwriter can change the rules as much as he wants as long as it all serves to make Yoshio seem pitiful.

                      The first two episodes of Stella no Mahou aren't very unique or original, but they are sweet and cute. The Crunchyroll subtitle translation's insistence on arbitrarily translating or ignoring honorables, however, is very distracting.

                      Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episode 2.

                      Unsurprisingly the first episode of Drifters is a somewhat extended cut of the first half of the preview OVA.

                      The premiere episode of Yuri on Ice was a tremendous surprise. Weíve seen ice skating anime before, but theyíve always been shoujo series. So seeing a male ice skating show with an emphasis on realistic drama is refreshing. The first episode deftly dives into the deep end without forgetting to spend time introducing its characters. Furthermore, the emphasis placed on subtle realistic background detail is very impressive, and the very crisp visual design and excellent animation quality contribute a lot to the complete impression the anime makes on viewers.

                      I had moderately high hopes for the ClassicaLoid anime because I anticipated that it could be something new, creative, stylish, and interesting. I was quite disappointed to find that the first episode was far more mundane than I hoped, even despite a heavy emphasis on whimsy and fantasy. The first episode feels just a bit dumb, and its characterizations are startlingly one-dimensional. Such simplistic characterizations work fine in satirical anime like Panty & Stocking and Yakitate Japan, both of which this show tonally reminded me of. But ClassicaLoid isnít a satire, so its first episode felt shallow and unfulfilling.

                      Watched the first two episodes of the third season of Agents of SHIELD. Daisy looks like she's going through a laughable long-overdue teenage rebellion goth phase.

                      Watched the first three episodes of Luke Cage.

                      Watched the Titans beat the Dolphins, the Falcons beat the Broncos, and the Packers beat the Giants. And watched the Bucs narrowly defeat the Panthers despite having a weak kicker & inaccurate QB.

                      Comment


                      • Since Keijo is the obvious T&A service show of the season, I didnít expect much from it, especially since all of the fan-service shows from the past few years have been underwhelming. But the show surprised me because its intense depiction of competition, regardless of how ridiculous or unbelievable, still did add a degree of urgency to the plot thatís been missing in all these such shows lately.

                        The first episode of Cardfight Vanguard G Next is noteworthy in the regard that I think itís the first time a card battle anime has begun with the experienced master player protagonist losing his first match. But since there seems to be a limit to the narrative variety conventional card battle anime can have, if not depicting a novice starting from scratch, the next logical development is to have a champion lose and fight his way back.

                        I have to give some credit to Watashi ga Motete Dousun da for finding a unique approach to the reverse-harem genre, even if the novel twist is just borrowing a trope from other anime. However, I also find the show just a bit sexist because fully half of Serinumaís harem is only interested in her physical appearance.

                        The Sengoku Choujuu Giga Kou television series is basically conceptually the same as last springís Neko Neko Nihonshi, but I find that I like Neko Neko Nihonshi a lot more.

                        Occultic;Nine feels a lot like an occult-themed cousin to Baccano, or perhaps a more stylish cousin to Steins;Gate. The first episode introduces a large cast and establishes a tone but doesnít have enough time or desire left to clearly lay out a storyline.

                        Natsume Go episode 2 is one of the very sweet episodes that this series does so well. Also watched episode 3.

                        The first episode of Digimon Universe: Appli Mon isnít dour but it is noticeably lacking a sense of fun and adventure. The episode also feels very heavy handed with an iron-fisted effort to drive home its characterization of protagonist Haru as a milquetoast average kid.

                        The first episode of UtaPri Maji Love Legend Star absolutely looks like a top-tier production. Itís flashy and very attractive looking. Itís also so formulaic that itís virtually painful. By this point, when Nanamiís harem has grown to 18 young men, itís hard to tell if the show is blatantly sexist by transforming Nanami into a literal trophy that the boys pass around or if the show is blatant princess fantasy in which each of the 18 boys professes his devotion to her.

                        Despite its misleading pre-opening credits scene, the first episode of Idol Memories reveals itself to be a conventional idol training anime, except that half-way through the episode it abruptly turns into a live-action variety program starring the six idol singer voice actresses.

                        Exactly as Iíd hoped it would be, Fune wo Amu is refreshing because itís a drama about the intellectual pursuit of linguistic interpretation. While the show clearly has something to do with character and personality, at its core, the show about compiling a dictionary is about academic diligence without being gimmicky. Although itís not especially complex, challenging, or philosophical, itís a thinking personís anime about people thinking.

                        I'm a bit disappointed by the second episode of Vivid Strike because the abrupt introduction of magic seriously compromises what was initially introduced as a "realistic" martial arts anime.

                        Objectively speaking, much of Poco's Udon World episode 2 is quite absurd, but the episode is also adorable.

                        Watched Long Riders episode 2.

                        Watched Haikyuu season 3 episodes 1-2.

                        The second episode of WWW.Working is making me believe that this reboot/remake/side story is distinctly weaker than the original series.

                        As half-expected, Dragon Ball Super episode 62 didn't really fulfill the promise of finally seeing a truly impressive Mirai Trunks, but the episode did somewhat compensate for including some neat references and characters that we haven't seen in many, many years.

                        Watched Kaiju Girls episodes 3 & 4.

                        Watched Drifters episode 3.

                        Watched Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume episodes 2 & 3.

                        I'm going to consider American musician Porter Robinson's extended music video "Shelter," a co-produced anime in the same way that productions like musician Glenn Danzig's Satanika pilot and producer Greg Penny's uncompleted Project: 13, and works including The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight were anime. The productions may have been foreign commissions, but the creative influence of the Japanese designers, animators, and producers is prominent enough to unquestionably give these productions a degree of authenticity as Japanese created anime. The music video itself isn't the most brilliant or exceptional such work I've ever seen, but it is undeniably beautiful and impactful.

                        In domestic comics, I read the first issue of Romulus. Itís a bit turgid because the issue really wants to be an expository summary of the setting. But in the final pages it realizes that it needs to include some action to avoid being totally uninvolving. But both the writing and the art feel stiff and perfunctory. Itís not a terrible first issue, and the story could certainly improve. But itís not an immediately impressive first issue. The several month wait for Monstress issue 7 was absolutely worth it because issue 7 is outstanding. Although a few panels of art look a bit rushed, most of the book is still gorgeous, and the writing is emotional, complex, and deftly deepens the characterizations. Kippa, especially, is really turning into a fascinating conscience for Maika. Tomboy issue 8 continues to solidify the sense that the series was initially promoted incorrectly. This series isnít an American interpretation of Madoka Magica. Itís a very dark and occasionally gory murder investigation thriller with a supernatural angle. In a very loose sense, the killer is a ďmagical girl,Ē but the focus of the narrative is far more on the investigation and the rationale of the murders than on the supernatural fantasy aspects of the story. The epilogue of the first issue of Green Valley promises, literally, that the narrative will progress into totally unpredictable directions. While thatís hopefully the case, the first issue isnít especially surprising at all except for the fact that the character interactions in this medieval story feel jarringly contemporary. Read Paper Girls issue 10. Read Betty Boop issue 1, which is commendably faithful to the tone of the original vintage cartoons. Blood & Dust issue 3 causes me to think that this vampire action series may be one of the criminally underappreciated recent comic book launches. To its credit, the first issue of Tom Linternís Girrion looks remarkably like a cousin to Miyazakiís Nausicaa manga. However, the panel blocking and content makes following the visual continuity very difficult. Itís simply hard to follow whatís going on, but the dialogue reveals that very little actually happens in the first third of the story.

                        Read the domestic third volume of Drifters.

                        Watched Luke Cage episodes 4-8.

                        Watched the Chargers beat the Broncos. Watched the Steelers defeat the Packers and the Texans unexpectedly come back and beat the Colts in overtime. Watched the Cardinals crush the Jets. Watched the Packers defeat the Bears.

                        Comment


                        • Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episodes 0, 3 & 4. I'm not sure why episode 0 is titled "Episode 0" when it clearly ought to be episode 1.

                          Flip Flappers episode 2 is fun, but episode 3 again distinctly evokes the style of golden age anime because it's wildly over-the-top and seemingly absurdly random, yet unlike so much contemporary anime, none of the absurd plot developments feel unnatural or out of character within the setting. The episode's animation quality is also quite stunning.

                          Watched Brave Witches episode 2. The emphasis on the striker units is noticeably different from the previous 501st stories, so I wonder if the change is an arbitrary new narrative focus or if it actually represents a fundamental difference in the training and experience of different witches & units.

                          Watched Poco's Udon World episode 3-5. For a tanuki, Poco is remarkably intelligent.

                          Watched Shuumatsu no Izetta episodes 3-4.

                          Watched Days episodes 15-16. Episode 16 in particular isn't a bad episode, but it's narrative construction is bluntly obvious. In episode 16 Tsukamoto finally figures out his role on the team, so the series' focus then shifts onto other characters.

                          Dragon Ball Super episode 63 surprised me a bit by actually being a bit fun and satisfying. Episodes 64 & 65 reveal that the series is going exactly where viewers probably anticipate it's going.

                          Watched the first episode of Hagane Orchestra. It seems to be a goofy comedy, but the humor is nearly entirely dialogue-based, so it's difficult for me to full get it without subtitles.

                          I appreciate how Girlish Number episodes 2-4 serve as an alternate perspective to Shirobako. But I'm disappointed that despite the show's desire to be realistic, the girls never change clothes.

                          Watched Kaiju Girls episodes 5-7.

                          Natsume Cho episode 4 wraps up the two-episode story arc but also introduces a degree of intrigue atypical of the franchise. Also watched episodes 5 & 6.

                          Watched Bernard-jou Iwaku episodes 2-5.

                          Watched Drifters episodes 4-6. Since Kouta Hiranoís manga presently has only five Japanese volumes, the TV series has been significantly fleshing out and developing scenes from the manga. Episode 6 was the first episode to introduce a significant plot development thatís not included in at least the three English translated volumes.

                          Kuromukuro episodes 22-26 feel a bit unsteady on their feet: sometimes overly predictable and sometimes as if groping for a plot direction. And ultimately while the series does have a conclusion, it's a very muted, inconclusive conclusion.

                          Narratively Long Riders episode 4 is just fine, but its art design is rather hideous.

                          For roughly the past few weeks Iíve been listening to Leo Ieiriís fourth album, We, on repeat in the car. Particularly songs ďParty GirlĒ and ďCity Boy na AitsuĒ have a bubblegum pop sound thatís unlike anything the vocalist has written or performed before, but the sense of honest fun behind them makes them catchy. The album also includes ďBokutachi no Mirai,Ē and ďHello To The WorldĒ that are certain to appear on her eventual greatest hits collection. I have trouble ranking her four albums because theyíre all so comparable in quality. This latest album is certainly at least on par with her prior records.

                          Satoshi Konís regrettably partially unfinished manga Opus is an interesting hybrid of Akira and Millennium Actress. Itís a meta-meta-fiction that literally interprets the adage about creatorís characters taking on a life of their own. Seemingly after the storyís original monthly serialization was ended due to the cancellation of the containing magazine, Kon roughed out a tentative final chapter that partially wrapped up the storyline.

                          Read a selection of domestic comics. The first issue of writer Rick Remenderís Seven to Eternity absolutely feels and reads like European sci-fi fantasy. Itís apocalyptic, obtuse, and expansive. For better or worse, the second issue is far more conventional. The first issue of Frank Choís Skybourne is a brisk, exciting, and violent action excursion thatís just distractingly inconsistent because the comic isnít afraid of crude language and graphic violence, yet it arbitrarily censors its language at arbitrary moments. The second issue is an extensive exposition dump. Now that Iíve read the first issue of Animosity, I donít understand why the comic has erupted into a collectorís and speculatorís darling. Excepting a bit of a rushed pace, the first issue is mostly fine but unexceptional in my perspective. Iím particularly bothered by its seeming lack of logical consistency. Abruptly all of the worldís animals develop human-level consciousness. The ability to speak should have little impact on innate personality, though. For unexplained reason, in the comic some animals that suddenly gain the ability to speak maintain their established personalities. Yet some animals that werenít previously suicidal suddenly turn suicidal. And some creatures that previously werenít antagonistic suddenly turn malevolent. Thereís just no rhyme or reason apart from the fact that the comic needs certain circumstances to occur in order for the comic story to happen. The second issue of Frostbite makes a deliberate effort to deepen its characterizations, but the core narrative still feels very derivative. Aliens: Defiance issue 6 is outstanding because itís exciting and fleshes out the moral quandary introduced in issue 4. Public Relations issue 11 felt like a natural conclusion, but the series is still ongoing. Issue 12 feels like a very forced and sadly unfunny recap that puts character Kade Clover on trial without any reason. Then the issue doubles-down on giving unnecessary extended stories to (so far) irrelevant supporting characters by giving reporter Cadence Clark a back-up story. The entire issue feels like a phoned-in cash grab. I respect the desire of Wicked+The Divine to be experimental and artistic, but turning issue 23 into illustrated prose doesnít work for me for two reasons. The prose itself is rather pretentious. And moreover, the prose tries very hard to illuminate the gods as glorious, elevated beings, but readers canít relate to these characterizations because the past 22 comics have only depicted the gods as spiteful, selfish, bratty, spoiled, and petulant emo teenagers. Iím on the fence over the first issue of Batman/TMNT Adventures because the storytelling has no weight or continuity. The introduction of the turtles is fractured and inconsistent. Clayface seems to have a tactical mind one moment then completely forgets what he was doing a second later. The text afterwords of the first and now second issues of Green Valley continue to promise an unpredictable, mind-blowing epic, yet the content of the first two issues has definitely failed to fulfill those lofty promises. The first issue of the Batman side-story Mother Panic does little more than introduce context. The issue doesnít have enough unique characterization or story to judge.

                          Continued below --->

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                          • Continued from above.

                            The first Jack Reacher film is no Taken, but itís an intense and powerful ride. Ironically, its sequel, Jack Reacher: Donít Look Back, should have referenced what made the first film as good as it was. And ironically, in spite of its title, the sequel does actually revolve around looking backward. Author Lee Childsí character Jack Reacher is a man who aggressively seeks out trouble. The first film was powerful because it revolved around an unpredictable lone wolf who played by his own rules. Everything that made the first film compelling is missing from the second. Jack Reacher acknowledges in the second film that his standard modus operandi is compromised because heís saddled with both a partner and a ward. Furthermore, Reacher is never unpredictable in the sequel for two reasons. Reacher spends the entire film on defense, reacting and counter-attacking. Multiple times in the film Reacher has to play catch-up with his antagonists. Throughout the entire film heís a cornered animal able to turn the tables on his hunters only because theyíre over-confident, not because heís more shrewd or tactical than they are. The first film was a gut-punch because of its crisp, intense violence. The second film feels very watered down in comparison. Reacherís first one-against-many fight occurs off-screen. The second such fight is shot with lots of ultra-close-ups and quick cuts that obscure exactly whatís happening. The climactic fight literally occurs between wheezing, injured combatants, so the fight feels like a slow, obligatory chore to be slogged through rather than a desperate battle for survival or vengeful justice. The movie wants to build upon Reacherís characterization, but it does so in a totally ineffective, hamfisted way. The film is designed to evoke a sense of Reacher opening up, admitting that his life is hollow and lonely, and embracing a new make-shift family. Except the only evidence the film gives of Reacher ever feeling unfulfilled is a single monotone line about him sometimes feeling lonely. Instead of treating the two women in the film like close companions, he treats them like baggage. He even says that he treats Major Turner as much like a man as like a woman. Never for the most brief second does Jack Reacher ever exhibit any sense of emotional vulnerability or human empathy. The people around him are his duty, his responsibility, not people he cares about personally. So the filmís efforts to wring compassion fall absolutely, completely flat. Ultimately, ďNever Look BackĒ isnít the sort of embarrassingly awful travesty that Taken 3 was, but itís appreciably less intense, suspenseful, and compelling than the first Jack Reacher film.

                            Director Neill Blomkampís new installment of ďThe HireĒ short film series is regrettably compromised. The direction and editing are crisp. The cinematography is wonderfully sharp. However, seemingly due to concerns over length, exactly how the escort Humvees meet their fates isnít clearly illustrated. The vehicles are racing along. Then suddenly theyíre wrecking without clear visual explanation for how or why their drivers suddenly failed. On a side note, at the same time the short feels like a continuation of the original ďThe HireĒ shorts, it also feels exactly like a spiritual homage to Clive Owenís role in the 2006 film Children of Men.

                            If Tusk hadnít yet established a new phase of unabashed self-satisfying directing in Kevin Smithís career, Yoga Hosers absolutely confirms the trend beyond any possible debate. Like Tusk, Yoga Hosers is a feature length depiction of a spontaneous goofy joke that arose during a podcast conversation. Part of the film feels like an over-obvious and pitiful attempt to recapture the youthful essence of ďSaved by the Bell.Ē Much of the film, however, is sheer left-field absurdity inspired by silly musing on a loose theme. The movie riffs on Poltergeist and Full Moon Entertainment horror films by first introducing the ďBratzisĒ with blood made of pure, concentrated sauerkraut glimpsed in the filmís trailer. Then the Full Moon Entertainment homage ramps up even more as the titular faux yoga practitioners have to engage in physical combat against a lurching monster. I wonít spoil the details by revealing more specifics. Practically speaking, only the most die-hard of Kevin Smith followers are likely to fully enjoy the movie. For better or worse, itís more unique and creative than Tusk. But itís also neither an experimental or art film nor is it a conventional, mainstream film. Itís a pure self-indulgent pet project made by Smith, his family, and his close friends.

                            A female friend described The Greasy Strangler as a rare contemporary example of a horror film that remembers that ďhorrorĒ doesnít have to involve ghosts, hauntings, or jump shocks. Greasy Strangler is literally horrifying because itís so shockingly crude, perverse, twisted, and bizarre. Iím not the one that called the film a hybrid of Fellini and Lynch, but the description is exceptionally apt. The slice-of-life melancholy romance is distorted through a malformed vision of psychological anxiety, ennui, co-dependence, and obsession with lifeís natural ugliness.

                            Watched Michael Moore's short film Michael Moore in Trumpland. It's a highly emotional agit-prop piece that does an excellent job of making a case in favor of Hillary Clinton without needing to elevate her in opposition to Donald Trump.

                            Speculation from a while ago placing Idris Elba into the shoes of James Bond motivated me to watch Bastille Day. The movie, it turns out, is a more conventional crime thriller than stylish spy caper. Elba is absolutely capable, but the script simply doesnít demand much of him. As a result, the movie is serviceable but little more. Itís suspenseful yet slow. The first gunshots donít occur until a full hour into the film. The movie is Cleanskin without the provocative tension, The November Man without Pierce Brosnanís smirk, Taken without the constant violence, a Bourne film without the paranoia. Itís a fine but unexceptional thriller.

                            Fears that Doctor Strange would too heavily co-opt the visual spectacle of Inception may be dismissed because the film escalates the concepts introduced by Inception to entirely new degrees. Moreover, in spite of jaded cineastes who presume weíve seen it all, Doctor Strange does manage to bring new spectacle to the table. As a result, despite the film having a relatively weak story, brisk pacing, frequent action scenes, and strong characterizations elevate the film to the standards now expected of MCU movies. Viewers predisposed to dislike MCU movies will find all of the standard reasons for complaint present in this film. Viewers who like the MCU movies will likewise find everything in this movie that we enjoy about Marvel superhero films.

                            Watched Luke Cage episodes 9-12.

                            Like all of the finest science fiction, director Denis Villeneuveís film Arrival is a movie about ideas, concepts, philosophy. Itís a realistic evaluation of how human psychology would react to and attempt to comprehend and understand not only intelligent alien life but how that life could affect humanity. Amy Adams does a credible job of portraying some who comprehends the massive , potentially apocalyptic responsibilities placed on her shoulders. The rest of the cast is serviceable but practically has very little to do besides serve as embodiments of the political, scientific, and militaristic social reactions to first contact. Since the movie is about ideas, it hinges upon one central idea that requires a hefty dose of rational latitude. Itís not a ridiculous idea, but itís one so far outside conventional wisdom that it feels more like magic or fantasy than science. But if viewers are able to swallow that singular idea, everything else in the film beautifully falls into place.

                            Watched the Giants beat the Rams in London. Watched the Dolphins beat the Bills, the Patriots defeat the Steelers, and watched the Cardinals & Seahawks tie in overtime. Watched the Titans crush the Jaguars. Watched the Cowboys beat the Eagles in overtime. Watched the Falcons beat the Bucs. Watched the Dolphins beat the Jets, the Colts beat the Packers, and the Raiders beat the Broncos. Watched the Ravens squash the Browns.

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                            • Although the title of the Aniplex ďLugar Code 1951Ē special suggests a reference to the German 9mm handgun, the title is actually a portmanteau of ďloup garouĒ because the film is an episode set during WWIII between humans and werewolves. The special is a late 80s/early 90s throwback in every respect. Itís violent and moderately gory. It makes little sense because details have no logical consistency (Rossa struggles to save Yonaga but then is just as willing to sacrifice her; werewolves are not undead; in one scene a truck overpowers the werewolf, yet in another scene the same werewolf overpowers the truck), and characterizations change wildly to suit the needs of the narrative. I like original anime, but I have to concede that this TV special is terrible.

                              Watched Fune wo Amu episodes 2-5 because I really want to like this show. Practically itís like no other anime Iíve ever seen because itís a slice of life drama about working adults rather than a comedy or satire about working adults. However, especially episode two, and to a lesser extent all of the episodes, feels so redundant. Much of the show revolves around making the same specific points over and over again. Daily life tends to be repetitive, but these characters seem to have many of the same conversations over and over again, constantly reasserting the same ideas and philosophies in slightly different phrasing. The tendency may underscore the theme of linguistics, but it doesnít make for particularly compelling viewing.

                              Finished off Show by Rock Short episodes 5-12 and watched the first episode of second season.

                              Watched Stella no Mahou episodes 3-8.

                              Iím not even a major giant robot fan, and even I think that Patlabor Reboot is six minutes of pure awesome.

                              Watched Aggressive Retsuko 24-32.

                              As expected, Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 12 & 13 pulled out a variety of surprises to create a thrilling ending.

                              Watched Shuumatsu no Izetta episodes 5 & 6.

                              Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episodes 5-8.

                              Kaijuu Girls episode 8 introduces the first hint of a bigger story. Episodes 9-10 don't really elaborate.

                              I have a complex bilateral reaction to the first Zaregoto OVA. One one hand Iím grateful that an anime such as this, targeted at such a unique demographic, exists. On the other hand, Iím equally disappointed that anime production has reached the point at which such a deliberately pandering anime exists. Judging by the seriesí first episode, Zaregoto is a harem anime for lower, but not lowest self-esteem male otaku. Itís specifically a harem anime for emo self-important teenagers. Typical harem anime are characterized by dojiko pratfalls and T&A slapstick revolving around a good-natured, amenable milquetoast male. Zaregoto tries to create the impression that itís classier by eschewing the juvenile pranks. Its protagonist is an intellectual elite suffering with existential angst. Thus he quietly luxuriates in diminishing himself and being castigated by pretentious, self-important women. ďI-chanĒ the protagonist is a toe-licking masochist with too much pride to admit that he enjoys being berated by women. Thus the entire anime becomes an proxy for self-effacing viewers who still perceive themselves as better than pitiful, ridiculous, straw-man punching bags that headline typical harem anime. The OVA is evidence to me that if a studio dresses up crap in pretty packaging, plenty of people will believe that itís actually gold.

                              Watched Drifters episodes 7-8. The animation quality and even art design in episode 8 are a bit below average, but the episode has no action scenes, so it can get away with lesser art design.

                              Watched Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara season 2 episodes 2-7.

                              It's slightly interesting that Rilu Rilu Fairlu episode 27 finally clarified that Bokkuri-sensei is a pine cone. Since he's always been a pointy brown blob I've never known exactly what he is. Continued watching through episode 30. I'm grateful to see that the concert scene in episode 30 was rendered with traditional anime rather than CG.

                              Dragon Ball Super episode 67 may technically introduce a bunch of nonsensical time paradoxes, but for viewers willing to just accept the episode without questioning all of its scientific flaws, itís a tremendously satisfying and fun episode. Also watched episode 68. Episode 69 is particularly fun because it plays with meta fourth wall breaking. Logically Arale shouldnít be nearly as strong as either Goku or Vegeta, but the episode doesnít take itself seriously, resulting in a lot of classic Dragon Ball style humor.

                              Watched Poco's Udon World episodes 7-8.

                              Watched Natsume Gou episode 7.

                              Watched Haikyuu 3 episodes 3-6. Seeing Kyoko react in episode 4 was one of the highlights of the entire Haikyuu series.

                              I was curious to watch the first episode of the 1966 TV series Kaizoku Ouji because itís an anime that I knew nothing about. After watching it, I appreciate why itís been forgotten. The show is strictly average. The character designs are unremarkable. The animation quality isnít as bad as some shows from the era, but it noticeably takes shortcuts and occasionally lacks continuity. Moreover, while anime from the same period, including Skyers Five and Bouken Gabotenjima, made efforts to be stylistic and visually dynamic, Kaizoku Ouji makes no such efforts at all. The camera angles, backgrounds, and even editing are all strictly routine and dull. Apart from the oddity of a meteorite somehow dispensing treasure, the first episode exhibits the minimum degree of creativity expected of anime, but little more. Itís functional but little more.

                              The narrative development of the first episode of 1975ís Shounen Tokugawa Ieyasu feels a bit odd because the episode jumps from Ieyasuís mother first meeting her husband-to-be to the episode ending with the birth of their son. The episode totally skips over the couple getting married and the motherís pregnancy. And as could be expected of a samurai historical drama, the first episode is particularly dry and boring.

                              Watched WWW.Working episodes 3-4. I still don't think the series lives up to its predecessor, but I was in the mood for a light comedy.

                              Continued below --->

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                              • Continued from above.

                                My curiosity about ďnewĒ Star Wars character Doctor Aphra finally compelled me to pull out and read Darth Vader comic 3. Aphra is an interesting character because she comes across as a bit of an Indiana Jones in the Star Wars universe. Black Hammer issue 5 continues to reveal the story very slowly. But the issue is an especially tragic and affecting one. The first issue of Harbinger Renegade is fast-paced and fairly intriguing. I presume it would be even more compelling for readers that have been following the Harbinger story for a long time. On the other hand, despite high praise, the second issue of Reborn felt rushed and underdeveloped. The first issue of Yakuza Demon Killers likewise felt a bit disappointingly shallow and clichť.

                                Read Spread issues 8-13 which are finally enough to convince me that Iím not invested in this series. In loose concept the story is a hybrid of John Carpenterís Thing and Lone Wolf & Cub. But by design Spread tries to focus its attention more on the setting than any singular protagonist. Lone Wolf & Cub is a violently graphic apocalyptic story that never strays too far from its protagonist. Walking Dead is a similar horror apocalypse story that concentrates its attention on a singular protagonist. Spread may have a protagonist, but the story doesnít revolve around that protagonistís psychology or his suffering. In effect, Spread offers very little for readers to emotionally latch onto. Furthermore, the seriesí theme that events can always get worse is an admirable one, but the way the theme constantly rears up as a cliffhanger every issue feels redundant and even bluntly manipulative. The story development feels artificial, scripted instead of natural & believable.

                                I got around to reading the first 4-issue mini-series of writer Ash Maczkoís fantasy comic series Squarriors. The series benefits from Ashley Witter's beautiful painted artwork and its initial shock-value novelty of the barbaric brutality of field animals behaving like Vikings. However, underneath the superficial layer, the story has significant problems. Since most of the characters are either rats or squirrels, the period battle scenes are very difficult to comprehend. Since all of the characters look alike, itís exceedingly difficult to distinguish who is attacking whom. Moreover, despite the dialogue being strong, the storytelling is weak and compromised. The four issue series seems to lack a point. It ends without any resolution or explanation, as though the decision to make the series a four-issue mini-series was based entirely on how much material the creative team had completed at the time. Each of the four issues begins with a prologue depicting the era before the fall of humanity, yet these prologue sequences appear to have no purpose and no relation to the primary story. They feel like random excerpts from a completely different story. The primary story of resource management warfare between tribes eventually reveals layers of personal vendetta and intrigue, but the revelations come too late to be useful. The story has a bad habit of resolving conflicts then retroactively explaining the conflict. So readers see a character betray or kill another character, and the event has no emotional impact whatsoever because the story doesnít explain what just happened and why until afterwards. The story also tends to introduce characters that die literally one page later, so while the story is full of brutal deaths, the deaths only serve as gratuitous gore because readers never knew or cared about the characters that are killed.

                                I picked up the first issue of indie comic Punch to Kill last summer at a comic store in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I just got around to reading it. It's a single, goofy action scene with no context, just crudely drawn ultra-violence. It's no masterpiece, but it does have a gonzo sense of outrageous fun to it.

                                The Suicide Squad extended cut is exactly and no more than it claims to be; itís simply the theatrical cut with a few extended & deleted scenes reincorporated. I suppose that viewers who havenít seen the movie at all ought to watch the extended cut, but the additional footage isnít worth re-watching the film for. Itís literally cutting room floor footage that appropriately deserves to be shuffled off to the DVD bonus features.

                                Watched the final episode of Luke Cage. While not exactly a climactic spectacle, I respect the final episode for adhering to the themes that characterized the entire series. Good is not always rewarded, and villainy will get its punishment eventually. But that punishment may be a very long time in arriving. Agents of Shield season 4 episode 3 is especially dumb. Thankfully, episode 5 gets back on track.

                                Watched the Bucs beat the Bears, the Cowboys narrowly defeat the Steelers, and the Seahawks beat the Patriots. Watched the Giants narrowly beat the Bengals. Watched the Bucs narrowly defeat the Chiefs. Watched the Patriots defeat the 49ers, and the Redskins beat the Packers. Watched the Raiders beat the Texans. Watched the Lions beat the Vikings, the Cowboys beat the Redskins, and the Steelers defeat the Colts on Thanksgiving. Watched the Ravens beat the Bengals, the Bucs beat the Seahawks, and the Chiefs win a pretty amazing last second win over the Broncos. Watched the Packers defeat the Eagles. Watched the Bucs beat the Chargers.

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