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    The Milky Holmes Fun Fun Pearly Night Christmas/New Year special completely embraces the total absurdity that the Milky Holmes franchise has evolved into. In fact, I'm surprised that none of the special's core staff previously worked on Di-Gi-Charat becasue the special looks and feels so much like the older, ridiculous Di-Gi-Charat TV anime.

    Watched the hilariously sad Aggressive Retsuko episode 44 & also episode 45.

    Dragon Ball Super episode 81 is fun.

    The Oshiete Galko-chan OVA is enjoyable and also a bit interesting because it features a bunch of characters presumably from later in the manga who weren't included in the TV series.

    Nyanko Days episode 9 is another of the less interesting episodes because the cats don't appear in the episode.

    Seeing the Kiniro Mosaic characters again in the “Pretty Days” short movie is pleasant, but unfortunately I do think this film is weaker than the two television series. The movie/special spends much of its length as a flashback depicting the lives of the three Japanese cast members during their junior high years. I’'m not convinced that any Kiniro Mosaic fans ever cared about this earlier period of the characters’ lives. Furthermore, throughout the entire film Alice and Karen get largely sidelined with nothing significant to do. They'’re arguably the life and vitality of the series, so marginalizing them makes the film a bit boring. On one hand, Aya suffers the film’s emotional crisis and resolves her doubts herself, which is admirable characterization. But by not sharing her anxieties with her friends and all of the girls not working through the problem, as the TV series frequently does, the story simple feels less participatory and therefore less interesting and enjoyable.

    Gabriel Dropout episode 9 is okay but unremarkable.

    Little Witch Academia 9 is an uncharacteristically weak episode. It doesn't have either the degree of humor or pathos it seems to be aiming for, and the episode extensively utilizes recycled frames of animation to try to create the impression that it has its typically excellent animation quality when this episode doesn't.

    I bought and read Cavewoman: Dragon, which turns out to have been largely a bad idea. I typically enjoy the campy fun of the Cavewoman comic series, but this particular one-shot was written & illustrated by Rob Durham, who evidently doesn'’t really have the talent to be working as a professional comic creator. The writing is, at best, junior high school quality, and sadly the art is no better. At least now I know that I should avoid further Cavewoman comics that Durham was the principal artist on. Alan Moore'’s Providence has been a tough read from the outset, but issue 11 is particularly troublesome because it literally reads as if halfway through the issue Moore got bored with following his protagonist Robert Black and abruptly discarded him. Then the comic leaps forward by decades in clips and rushes, some which seem to reference characters never before mentioned, until it forcibly, if not admirably, intersects with and finally becomes a sequel to Moore’'s earlier Lovecraftian comics The Courtyard and Necronomicon. The first issue of writer Justin Jordan’'s Savage Things fits snugly into the conventional mold of cinematic mercenary killer thrillers. Apart from the requisite hardboiled tone and spasms of bloody violence, there'’s nothing unique or exceptional to the first issue, so only time will tell if this story rises above average. The first issue of Amerikarate is exactly everything, and nothing more, that it's target readership would expect. It’'s entirely adequate but delivers nothing greater than expected. Read the first four issues of the horror comic The Eighth Seal. It'’s best described as a horror thriller, but unfortunately for me, I discovered that it’s a five issue series. So I need to buy issue five. Read the third issue of Clandestino. Apart from a surprising twist ending, the issue, like its predecessors, is strictly cliché. Young Terrorists issue 2 is an enjoyable if bizarre amalgamation of underground comic, sci-fi, and superheroes. It'’s vaguely akin to the result of David Cronenberg and Robert Rodriguez co-directing an X-Men movie. With a heavy dose of liberal comic book logic, it sort of works when, by all rights, it shouldn'’t.
    Last edited by John; March 6th, 2017, 10:37 PM.


      I'm not entirely sure whether I like Yukari's personality in Precure A la Mode episode 5, and that fact alone makes the episode interesting.

      Glad to see that Kemono Friends episode 9 is back to proper form after last week's episode that felt a bit out of character.

      Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episode 23.

      Perhaps more than I expected, Rilu Rilu Fairilu episode 36 is a revealing and powerful episode, as far as children’s shoujo anime go. The episode seemingly confirms that Anchusha isn’t exactly evil; she’s just spitefully cruel. And unexpected Rose’s story arc was more impactful than Lip’s because it’s so unusual to see Rose commit to and embrace her emotions, setting aside her typical veneer of aloof superiority.

      ACCA episode 9 wouldn't entirely make sense and certainly would be less resonant without the episodes preceeding it, but it's certainly the best episode of the series so far because it reveals all of its machinations and how all of the pieces of the clockwork plot fit together. Furthermore, the episode is amusing because it posits that the world of Douwa is so polite that it makes even Japan look crude by comparison.

      Kobayashi's Maid Dragon episode 9 officially elevates Kanna-chan into the tier of cutest things ever.

      Watched KonoSuba 2 episode 9.

      Akihabara's Strip episodes 8-10. Episode 10 features the curry restaurant Bengal. I've eaten there!

      I attended a local, nearly sold-out Fathom Events screening of the Sword Art Online movie. The film is probably quite satisfying for viewers with low expectations or viewers that don’t tend to analyze the films they watch. For more critical viewers, it’s a very mixed effort. The production values are excellent. The action is beautifully rendered, although arguably at times just a bit too frenetic. I only spotted one shot in the film that appeared to utilize obvious CG, and it’s deliberately minimized. (I’m referring to two CG pedestrians behind a chain link fence about half-way through the film.) The personalities of the large cast are nice to encounter again. And the film provides a nice, rewarding summation to the original first story arc of the SAO novels and anime. However, partially to evoke some of the film’s tension, Kirito and Asuna’s relationship feels like it’s taken a half-step backward from where it was in the SAO II television series. Furthermore, the film is founded on a number of plot holes.

      Read Doctor Aphra issue 5. WicDiv issue 27 is deliberately written to be confusing. It intercuts several simultaneous stories over a span of time, so readers have a difficult time following exactly what’s going on and when. Read Green Valley issue 6. At least now it’s all making sense, although its logic is flawed. How come certain events trigger a correction in the time stream yet other equally anachronistic situations don't? Read Paper Girls issue 12.

      Following its release, I spent about three weeks listening to Chihiro Onitsuka’s latest album “Syndrome” on repeat in my car. I appreciate that the style of this album harkens back to the tone of her early releases. It’s a somewhat close call, but I think I lean toward choosing “Gensou Kyoku” as my favorite song on the album. I’ve recently switched to listening to the “We Are X” movie soundtrack, but I may actually switch back because so little of the X documentary is new, and I’m not entirely sure that I’ve had my fill of the latest Chihiro album yet. The “We Are X” soundtrack contains an impressive 14 songs, but only ballads “La Venus” and “Without You” are new, although “Longing ~Setsubo no Yoru~” has previously only been released as a single and never previously included on any of the band’s full albums. However, this particular version of “Longing ~Setsubo no Yoru~” is the classical instrumental version. In effect, of the 14 tracks, three are instrumental and six are ballads. Despite X Japan traditionally being a metal band, vocal hard rock songs make up a minority of the “We Are X” soundtrack, and I’m pretty certain that the included live versions of both “X” and “Endless Rain” have their endings cut off. Granted, I really do love both new ballads and have a very difficult time favoring one over the other. Toshi’s vocals on “Without You” are simply heartbreakingly emotional. But I really, really want to hear new hard rock tunes from the boys, and I fearfully wonder if the band is deliberately trying to update its image to a softer, more emotionally vulnerable style. I’ve loved the classic “psychedelic crime of visual shock” metal sound of X Japan since the late 80s. Yet X Japan hasn’t released a new hard-rocking song in, I think, six years.


        Watched Youjo Senki episodes 9 & 10.

        Finished off Tatakae Ramenman by watching the short movie.

        Watched Mahou Tsukai no Yome episode 2.

        Urara Meirochou episode 10 is a fairly typical episode with an uncharacteristically intriguing cliffhanger. Episode 11 ends up not being as dark as it could be, but it does provide some satisfying substance for the show's plot development.

        I watched the first quarter of Mahoutsukai Precure and consistently thought it was mediocre. So my expectations for the Mahoutsukai Precure movie were muted. I certainly didn'’t expect it to be one of the best Precure movies. The film is fast-paced, and because it’'s so tightly focused, it feels more like conventional Pretty Cure than the TV series does. The art design, especially including the costume design, is quite good, and the movie reserves its best animation quality for the extended battle sequences in its second half. In fact, the climactic battle scene features better team-up attacks than even the All Stars team-up movies do. The film also wears its emotions on its sleeve without ever seeming sappy. The feature film includes a cameo appearance by Kumamon. The cute but disposable supplemental CG short film is highlighted by cameo appearances by Princess Precure’s Cure Flora and Toei mascot Pero, making me wish that the short included more of that sort of playful homage.

        Watching Little Witch Academia episode 10 made me realized that I'd inadvertently skipped over episode 6, so I went back and watched that episode as well.

        Watched Gabriel Dropout episode 10.

        Kemono Friends episode 10 is an enjoyable and unexpectedly a bit of an intriguing episode.

        Kobayashi's Dragon Maid episode 10 is highly amusing and charming.

        ACCA episode 10 distinctly feels like its tension is ratcheting up.

        I had a chance to watch the documentary film We Are X. It’'s a film with heart, and it’'s reasonably well put together, but I have to objectively admit that it has some weaknesses. Despite its title, the film realistically isn'’t about X Japan as a band so much as it is a character study of band founder/ leader/drummer/pianist/songwriter Yoshiki. The film focuses heavily on X Japan primarily because the band makes up such a big aspect of Yoshiki'’s life. In fact, the documentary is practically the Yoshiki & Toshi show. Pata gets in about three sentences, as does Sugizo. The film never acknowledges Heath at all. The film immerses viewers into the attitude of X Japan fandom but only gets into specific detail about Yoshiki’'s personal life and Toshi’'s decade as a member of the “Home of Heart” spiritual cult. A viewer unfamiliar with X Japan would only get an minimal understanding of the band'’s music from the samples heard in the film because the movie itself says practically nothing about the style of the band’'s music. The documentary states that X Japan’s music is “very heavy” or “very soft,” is “fast” and “aggressive,” and that’'s it. Those four adjectives are the complete extent of the film'’s examination of the sound and style of X Japan'’s music. “"Art of Life”" is the only song that the film addresses singularly, and the song is used merely as an illustration of Yoshiki’'s philosophy rather than as either a work of musical art itself or as a product of the band. The doc does an admirable job of depicting X Japan as musical artists who perform because music is their life’'s calling, not for celebrity or wealth. The motivation may or may not be true, but it’'s a pleasing sentiment either way. So, in effect, the film is more of a highly subjective, intimate, and occasionally revealing love letter to Yoshiki, and by extension his bandmates, than an objective examination of X Japan and its music.

        Legion episode 5 takes a natural and fascinating descent into vivid psychic horror territory. Episode 6 advances the story yet still feels a bit like a filler episode.

        I’'m regretful to say that the Mo Brothers'’ action film Headshot (2016) does and doesn'’t live up to expectations. Following upon the directors'’ thriller/shocker Killers, Headshot falls exactly into the same wheelhouse. Unfortunately, it doesn'’t surpass expectations, and it clearly illuminates the principle that a suspense thriller and a martial arts action film are not exactly the same genres. In effect, what Headshot has going for it is its intense brutality, but sadly little more. Star Iko Uwais does an admirable job of choreographing the film'’s numerous action scenes, but the directors shoot the scenes with a constantly moving camera that may marginally heighten atmospheric tension but robs some of the impressive intensity of the fighting. The movie is a martial arts action picture, but the directors helm the film as though it’'s a suspense thriller. However, the movie is full of unexplained flashbacks. In effect, the spectacular action scenes are deliberately compromised by the directing and editing to place more emphasis on the characterizations and story, but the story has so many gaps and holes in it that it leaves almost nothing for the viewer to latch onto. This is a slickly directed film, and kudos go to Iko Uwais for trying to deliver spectacular ultra-violent action, but the directors just don'’t seem to have a clear idea of what type of film they want to make. Sadly, by all rights this is a decent film that should have been better than it is.

        For comics, read Shadows on the Grave issue 3. Sex Criminals 17 doesn't advance the story very much but is an amusing issue. Read Cavewoman: Monster Dreams, which appears to occur in continuity just after the Ankha's Revenge mini-series that I haven't read yet. But it's not like continuity is especially important in the Cavewoman franchise.
        Last edited by John; March 18th, 2017, 11:14 PM.


          Watched the Yuyushiki OVA. This show has the same sort of left-field absurd humor as Nichijou, but while Nichijou treats its humor with an absurd seriousness, Yuyushiki applies a breezy, casual lightness that gives the show a completely different tone.

          I suppose that it's possible that other universes in the Dragon Ball story have non-divine residents who are stronger than even universe 7's gods, but the scale still feels a bit like the show has backed itself into a corner and now needs to bend its own continuity and rules in order to continue introducing opponents that can rival Son Goku's strength. Watched episodes 82 & 83, the later of which proves that Bulma has a terrible naming sense.

          Nyanko Days episode 11 gives me the feeling that whoever created this story didn't actually own cats because cats don't follow their owners around faithfully the way dogs do.

          Since most of Konosuba season 2 has skimped on its animation quality, episode 10, the final episode, made some ammends.

          Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 46-47.

          Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episodes 23 & 24. Episode 24 is particularly enjoyable because finally it's an episode that illustrates Chidori in battle rather than being a comical history lesson.

          Akihabara's Strip episode 11 finally feels like it's going somewhere. Episode 12 isn't exactly great, but I appreciate that it at least doesn't repeat the same formula most of the show has been relying upon.

          As I first began watching Precure A la Mode episode 6 I was surprised at the idea that the show was re-introducing the suggestion of lesbian attraction that hadn’t appeared in Pretty Cure since, arguably, second generation at the latest. But then it became amusingly obvious that Ichika was simply mistaking Akira’s gender, and Yukari, who knew that Akira was a girl, kept the fact secret to see how events played out. But Ichika should have immediately realized that her crush was not a boy because no boy wears boots like Akira does. Those are so obviously girls’ shoes. Also watched episode 7.

          Watched Gabriel Dropout episode 11.

          Little Witch Academia episode 11 doesn't contain any spectacular animation quality, but in terms of story development it may be the best epsisode of the series so far.

          I was in the mood for something stupid, and I intend to someday finish watching Milky Holmes TD, so I watched episode 7.

          ACCA episode 11 again feels rather suspenseful.

          The first Kobayashi's Maid Dragon "Maru Maru" special is very amusing. Also watched TV episode 11.

          I'm aware that Urara Meirochou is based on an ongoing manga, and I appreciate that its final episode at least acknowledges the story hints introduced in episode 11, but I'm still a bit frustrated that the end of the series bothered to briefly darken the show's tone and introduce foreshadowing that the TV series otherwise never deals with.

          Youjo Senki episode 11 is an interesting one.

          Kuzu no Honkai episode 7 is such an intimate episode that watching it feels uncomfortably like prying into private lives.

          Visually and tonally the first episode of Hinako Note is very similar to shows including Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka and Pan de Peace. It's mildly cute and harmless but little more.

          If my very poor Japanese is remotely accurate, the first episode of Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100 nin no Ouji-sama Short is about four handsome young princes who try to become less stuck up while drinking tea and end up being even more absurdly elite. So the entire eight-minute episode is pretty boys drinking tea.

          The zero episode of Monster Strike second season obviously picks up where the first season ended. But it leaves one profound lingering question that's very obvious when the episode ends.

          Watched the first episode of studio DLE's Nananin no Ayakashi TV series. Predictably, it's simple Flash animation dialogue-based stupid and crude gags mixed with historical references.

          I’m a bit relieved that the first episode of the second Pikaia television series doesn’t quite freak me out as much as the original first episode did. The show’s focus on Cambrian-era sea life means that everything looks like big swimming cockroach monsters. But with that unique Japanese perspective, what looks creepy to me is supposed to look cute and interesting to Japanese children. I am surprised to see that although the first series ended two years ago, this new series picks up where the first series ended.

          Read my week’s new comics. Black Hammer issue 7 remains mysterious, but I’m glad that the issue significantly advances the story. Batman/TMNT Adventures issue 5 is a fun read. Predictably by this point Reborn issue 5 feels like a year’s worth of storytelling condensed down to just a one issue summary. I can easily imaging proponents of conventional comics snubbing Helena Crash because it looks like sloppy, amateur art, and its story is strictly cliché. But exactly like a sci-fi cousin to Andrew MacLean’s Headlopper, Helena Crash has a wonderfully fun energy and personality.

          Watched the full three-and-a-half-hour WOWOW broadcast of X Japan's March 4's performance in London. Toshi's voice didn't appear to be in peak form during a lot of the show, but X Japan always gives 110% effort in every concert performance.

          Perhaps we’re not as demanding, or maybe our expectations were tempered, but Phil and I watched the first three episodes of Iron Fist and were satisfied. Granted, the pace is a bit slow and the events in the episode could certainly have been condensed, but such could be said of every Marvel hero series on Netflix so far. These early episodes are light on action, but Luke Cage wasn’t exactly action packed in the beginning either. I am concerned that Danny Rand seems a bit dim-witted and self-obsessed, but presumably he’ll grow into his heroism as the series proceeds.


            Nyanko Days episode 12 is cute, but it feels as though the entire series concluded just as it began to get started.

            Watched the amusing 12th episode of Gabriel Dropout along with the first OVA.

            Little Witch Academia episode 12 left me eager to see more.

            Watched Precure A La Mode episode 8.

            Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 48 & 49.

            Watched Bikini Warriors episode 13.

            I enjoyed Kemono Friends, and I appreciate that the final episode makes an attempt to provide some explanation, but the episode feels like it's struggling to provide an answer that doesn't exist because the show's concept, I suspect, never had a fully developed plan to begin with.

            Akihabara's Trip ended just fine in episode 13. I do appreciate the deus ex machina gag.

            Kobayashi's Maid Dragon episode 12 felt like it could have been a fine final episode.

            Including the post-credits animation, Youjo Senki does manage to remain focused on its protagonist and provide a moderately satisfactory ending to at least the adaptation of one portion of Tanya's weary life.

            ACCA episode 12 concludes mostly predictably, but it's a predictable climax because the entire show is carefully and deliberately constructed so that every plot development feels natural and reflective of the characterizations and circumstances that the setting has established. This is a very slow-burn but very impressive show because it's completely devoted to respecting both its story and its audience with a dramatic narrative free of hysteria or violence. It's a multi-generational political thriller on a grand scale that emphasizes subtlety and style, and everything being purposeful, deliberate, and right.

            I finally had the opportunity to watch the first episode of Sukiyaki Force. As expected, it's a typical DLE dialogue-based comedy anime animated by 4C instead of DLE.

            Watched the first episode of Forest Fairy Five, a show that very nearly slipped by me. I'm not going to call it bad because it's a show that doesn't aim high to begin with. But it's rather uninteresting because it doesn't have the spontaneity of improvised dialogue or the bizzarre, off-kilter humor of similar CGI anime like GDGD Fairies or Tesagure Bukatsumono. The show is also disappointing because it stars "anime-chans" who evidently have no knowledge or embodiment of anime.

            I watched the first episode of the second season of Shingeki no Kyojin and tried once again to like it, but I just can'’t because it’'s all so dumb. Absolutely nothing in the story development feels natural. Every single plot development is artificial and constructed to heighten tension instead of tell a believable, natural story. The walls are made of titans? What? Did they all volunteer to just stand still, ooze concrete from their veins, then let humans spend years sculpting it around them? Why on earth does every single faction of human beings in the show actively work against its own best interest? How many times can every single recon corps soldier face death directly in the face yet only manage to freeze in fear when the story needs them to? Oh, the story hasn'’t had a surprise stunning revelation in X number of episodes? Time to arbitrarily introduce a new one with no context or warning! In this episode the hairy abnormal titan literally appears out of thin air!

            Watched the first episode of Future Card Buddyfight Battsu. It has an enjoyable gung-ho attitude, but at heart it's still just another card battle fantasy anime.

            I wasn'’t expecting very much from Dragon Ball Super episode 84, so the episode surprised me with one of the best animated fights of the series. Furthermore, I liked The Collectors'’ "“Aku no Tenshi to Seigi no Akuma" ending theme song more than I like the new, current theme, but the new ending credits animation sequence is nice.

            The first episode of Gin no Guardian is a weird beast. Its exaggerated character expressions and prominent inclusion of an animal mascot (reminiscent of Love Hina, Trigun, Tenchi Muyo, Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura) partially evoke the tone of 90'’s anime. However, Gin no Guardian is a dark supernatural anime rather than a sci-fi anime, thereby placing it closer in genre to 2000’'s anime than 90'’s anime. Either way, the development of the short episode feels lacking. As the series develops, it may explain why protagonist Suigin appears to be so ineffectual, unmotivated, and detached in the “real world” yet why he’'s so determined and aggressive in the undead world, but at least in this first episode, the contrast feels inexplicable and highly artificial.

            Went out to see the live-action Ghost in the Shell. My extensive commentary is in my video podcast.

            Writer/director John Michael McDonagh’'s satirical action/comedy/crime film War on Everyone lives in the shadow of Shane Black'’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. The former film clearly wants to equal or surpass the later two but unfortunately doesn'’t. Writer Shane Black’'s crime comedies are very carefully constructed to seem effortless. War on Everyone is unfortunately stuck in between poles. It wants to be more crude and offensive than Black’'s films, but it also doesn’'t want to descend into the pitiful troughs that characterize lowest common denominator buddy copy films like the CHIPS remake, which Michael Peña also happens to co-star in. So the movie is stuck in a mid-ground no-man’'s land. It’'s not bad, but it never feels witty or bright or inspired the way great buddy crime films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys, and Hot Fuzz do. The characters in Shane Black & Edgar Wright's buddy cop satires are flawed but likeable. The two leads in War on Everyone are scumbags who only elevate above the film’'s antagonist scumbags because they don'’t apply any pretense to their immorality. Actors Alexander Skarsgård & Michael Peña play their roles well in the film, but their characters are simply not likeable ones, which limits the film’'s ability to be empathetic and fully enjoyable. Furthermore, unlike films such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys, and Hot Fuzz, War on Everyone never escalates into the stratified realm of hyperbolic keystone cops. The very few moments when War on Everyone really elevates into delicious absurdity, the film'’s one running gunfight and a chase scene in Iceland, occur in the middle of the film, so the movie never convincingly feels like it builds up to anything.

            Finished watching the first season of Legion, which I highly recommend. Legion is practically literally the Twin Peaks of superhero programs. It’'s a literal X-Men mutant origin story, but it'’s told with a heavy emphasis on psychological horror expressed through both on-screen violence & gore and prominent, extensive cinematic stylistic flourishes. Moreover, seemingly addressing the most prominent criticism of the Netflix Marvel superhero programs, Legion cuts the fat by expressing its story in a lean, relevant 8 episodes instead of a bloated, meandering 13. Compared to what we’re used to seeing on TV, and even largely in theaters, Legion is a breathtaking, boldly stylistic cinematic kaleidoscope. It'’s just a wonderful treat for genre viewers disposed to something highly creative and off-kilter.

            Watched Iron Fist episode 4, which still seems to be entirely adequate and, in my perspective, on par with Luke Cage.

            While eating dinner, I turned on CNN, and it happened to be broadcasting the current episode of Believer, a supposed news documentary series in which “religious scholar” Reza Aslan interacts with a variety of fringe religions. I watched a bit of the first episode a few weeks ago and thought it was crap. Tonight’'s episode is crap. This so-called “religious scholar” apparently every episode gets scared of fringe religious practices and runs away. How the f*ck is a religious scholar not open and receptive to the very subject he'’s supposed devoted to studying? Moreover, the series strikes me far less as an objective observation of and introduction to fringe religions than a pseudo-intellectual “holier than thou” effort to sensationalize, marginalize, and ultimately mock obscure faiths. So I got curious to know whether other people agree that this show is more tabloid garbage than scholarly investigation. I checked the show’'s IMDB score and reviews. Seems many people agree with my perception that the show is trash designed solely to allow Christians and Jews to feel good about themselves because their religions are “better” than other people’'s religions.


              The premiere episode of Alice to Zouroku surprised me just a bit. The show isn't nearly as sappy as I expected it to be. Its tone reminds me a lot of Alien Nine.

              I've spent a few years not bothering to get around to watching World Fool News. Since the second season just started, I finally watched the first episode of the 2014 TV series then the first episode of the current second season. A bit ironically, the first episode of the second season feels like it picks up immediately after the very first episode of the first season. The satire of Japanese work ethics and culture, set in a slightly off-kilter evening news broadcast studio, is pretty poorly rendered and animated but still mildly funny.

              Judging by its first episode, Sekai no Yami Zukan, is another kamishibai-style anime, only one with even lesser production values than Yamishibai. Regrettably, this show appears to suffer from the same problem that crippled Yamishibai. The episodes aren't so much horror stories as horror scenarios. For example, the first episode of Sekai no Yami Zukan depicts a couple kidnapped by aliens. And that's it. There's no story, no conclusion or climax. A couple being kidnapped by aliens is a setting, a situation, not a story.

              The first episode of Souryo to Majiwaru Shikiyoku no Yoru ni may be the worst animated conventional commercial anime since Sparrow's Hotel. The first episode also seems to exist solely as a set-up for some softcore porno.

              Sanrio & TV Asahi's television special Go-chan ~Moco to Chinju no Mori no Nakama-tachi~ is a reminder of a key way that Japanese children's entertainment is frequently so different from American children's films. While the film is ostensibly about little girl Moco and her new friend the talking space alien panda Go-chan, more than half of the film is actually devoted to Moco-chan's emotional adjustment to living with her rural farmer grandfather, who has an antagonistic separated relationship with his businesswoman wife who lives in Tokyo, after the deaths of both of Moco's parents.

              I'm glad to see Kuzu no Honkai episodes 8-12 wrap up the story, and also glad to see the story end on a positive note because the early episodes are so emotionally grim that the story getting any darker would make it practically unbearable.

              The first episode of Starmu season 2 doesn't push the envelope in any way, but I suppose it'll probably be satisfying for viewers that like this genre of anime.

              Technically Tsugumomo may be most comparable to Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan, but in design and tone it feels much more like a thowback to ten years or more ago because it's particularly reminiscent of both Amaenaideyo and Zettai Karen Children.

              Watched the first episodes of Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou. I was surprised to find that the TV broadcast and web broadcast episodes are completely different. As short, cheap, and silly as this anime is, this feels exactly like what an anime spin-off of I-Mas ought to be.

              I think that Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records is supposed to be slapstick comedy, but in effect it's just condescendingly stupid. The art design is pretty nice, but I can't see any other praiseworthy quality in this first episode.

              The first episode of Frame Arms Girl is disturbing in a number of ways. It’s essentially a beat-for-beat remake of Busou Shinki, but at least its characterizations aren’t quite as annoyingly exaggerated as Busou Shinki’s were. However, while similar earlier shows like Busou Shinki, Sky Girls, and Gunpla Builders at least felt a bit like adaptations, Frame Arms Girl feels crassly like blunt advertising disguised as entertainment. Furthermore, it'’s a bit disturbing that protagonist Ao is seemingly lazy and stupid, yet the show’'s narrative rewards her and distinguishes her as being unique rather than discouraging her negative attributes. Moreover, from an American perspective, the show’s seeming normalization of privacy-invasive data collection feels highly disturbing. From an American perspective, the idea of a faceless corporation handing out “free samples” that it uses to collect user data without consent is shockingly offensive, yet this show treats the idea like a disposable background detail included just to enhance the show’'s realism.

              In the case of both the original 1989 Warau Salesman and 2017’s Warau Salesman New, I like the concept more than the execution. Fukuzou Moguro is one of anime’s iconic character designs, and I really do like the idea of him killing with kindness. I like the idea that he offers people exactly what they want, and it’'s purely human greed that causes his victims to damn themselves. However, the show frequently doesn’'t exactly work that way. In many episodes, as is the case with both vignettes in the first episode of Warau Salesman New, Moguro actively tempts his victims. He doesn'’t just lay the path before them then wait to see what happens; he actively manipulates and seduces people. He entraps them rather than letting them entrap themselves, thus the stories are less interesting than they easily could be. Furthermore, a strength of the series has always been the illusion of fairness. Moguro will give people exactly what they want, and his victims suffer just punishment when their desires increase. However, in the second vignette in Warau Salesman New episode 1, the protagonist loses more than fair consequence of her actions, which again compromises the show’'s creepy poetic justice. The show hinges on ironic fairness. When the outcome isn'’t fair, then the victim is no longer a victim of his or her own greed but rather a victim of Moguro’s unreasonable evil. On the narrow positive side, Warau Salesman New does have one of the most interesting opening animation sequences I’'ve seen in a while.

              Sakura Quest is figuratively and literally the younger sibling to Hanasaku Iroha. Not only does it feel very similar to the earlier show, it'’s literally produced by the same studio, P.A. Works. Sakura Quest follows in the footsteps of other tourism idol anime like Locodol and, to an extent, Idol Jihen. But Sakura Quest feels a bit different because it clearly emphasizes its characterizations over its scenario. In the same way Hanasaku Iroha had a bit of a rough start before settling in and becoming great, I can foresee and hope for the same lightning to strike again with this series.

              Although the first short episode of Akindo Sei no Little Peso feels like typical anime, it looks and is animated like a very indie web animation.

              The first episode of Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine surprised me somewhat. Typically I'’m not very interested in bishounen anime, and I distinctly think that this show could have been a bit stronger. I do understand the idea that instructor Heine can'’t say everything that’s on his mind due to the ritualistic formality and degrees of hierarchy present in his royal setting. But at the same time, considering only what he says aloud stretches credibility rather thinly. If he's so obsequious, I have a bit of trouble seeing these extremely self-centered princes even giving him the very little deference that they do.


                Watched the first episode of Beyblade Burst God. Seeing Aoi lose his first fight (that's not a serious spoiler) is a bit of a unique approach to typical shounen hobby anime, but after he's already got one full series worth of experience, the plot development feels a bit odd. Furthermore, it feels to me oddly like Aoi constructs his Shin Valkyrie bey specifically to defeat just one opponent rather than to upgrade the toy.

                The first episode of Makeruna!! Aku no Gundan! feels very much like a version of Keroro Gunso for young children.

                I'm a bit conflicted over the final episode of Kobayashi's Maid Dragon. The amount of sentimentality in the episode makes it particularly suitable as a series finale, but in terms of story content it feels like an episode that would have had more impact had it occurred around the middle or late middle of the series.

                I really can'’t tell whether the first episode of Sagrada Reset is something like Nerawareta Gakuen that has a great reputation but is actually very pretentious rather than very good, or whether future episodes will flesh it out. Ironically the episode is heavy on exposition yet says practically nothing. I’'m unclear on whether class president Sumire Sora wants to selfishly exploit Misora Haruki's time reset ability or whether she philanthropically wants to psychologically “help” Misora, even though I see no evidence that Misora wants or even needs “help.” The fact that Misora isn'’t outgoing happiness and glitter all the time doesn'’t mean that she’'s in need of psychological intervention. Furthermore, even with the blunt exposition, I’'m still not clear on how Misora'’s power works. The explanation provided between Misora & Kei is that Misora doesn'’t “erase time.” She simply “reconstructs the world of the past.” But in that case, every time she uses her power, the entire city would suffer a memory loss of one to three days. The town isn'’t going back in time to repeat April 6; the events of April 6 are repeating on April 7 without anyone’'s conscious awareness, meaning that everyone in town would be conscious of the events that occurred on April 5 and on April 7, but they'’d all have a 24-hour gap in their memory about what occurred on the 6th. I can’'t even fathom how a functioning modern community would sustain itself if, periodically, spans of 24-72 hours mysteriously vanished while the world outside of the town continued normally.

                I don'’t know whether I have the determination to stick with watching Boruto, but it does serve as a nice jumping-on point. The first episode is very nicely animated, with the early scene of Boruto'’s free running being a stand-out sequence.

                I’'m conflicted over the first episode of Busou Shoujo Machiavellism. I appreciate the extended martial arts battle scene with its traces of technique and focus on detail. But there'’s little else to the episode that I find exceptional or very entertaining.

                Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episodes 25-27. I remain a bit disappointed that despite the title, the show mostly isn't about Chidori. It's simply an animated history lesson in which Chidori is one supporting character. At least episode 27, the first episode of season 2, is the funniest episode in several weeks because this episode does concentrate primarily on Chidori.

                Evidently Clockwork Planet is trying to compete with Souryo to Majiwaru Shikiyoku no Yoru ni for the title of worst animated new anime series of this season. Regrettably, this show is just bad. The scenario is vaguely unique and somewhat interesting, albeit a bit indebted to prior titles like Unbreakable Machine Doll and Saber Marionette. But the character design art lacks proportions, frequently slips off model, and frequently just looks sloppy. Furthermore, the crispness and sharpness of the line art design on certain characters makes characters in different shots appear as if they were animated by different animation teams, almost as if the characters came from entirely different animation productions. The story development is stiff and frustratingly cliché. The animation quality, especially during the show'’s introductory action scene that’'s intended to set the stage for the rest of the show, is laughably bad.

                I got more and less from the first episode of Renai Boukun than I expected. The first episode unfolds at a breakneck pace, literally introducing new plot twists as frequently as other comedy anime crack jokes. There’'s enough plot development in the first episode of this show alone to satisfy an entire season of most other romantic comedy anime. But the plot thickens so briskly that the episode leaves no time for characterization, and no time for any of the plot developments to sink in. All of the characters are one-note parodies. They'’re so two-dimensional that they don'’t even seem to have more than one emotion per character. Ultimately, the show comes across like a bad parody instead of the beginning of an ongoing program.

                The first episode of original romance anime Tsuki ga Kirei surprised me because it appears to be a straightforward romance story with no gimmick. I didn'’t think anime could even support straightforward romance stories lacking in some sort of gimmicky angle like a supernatural component, time-travel, robots, homosexuality, cross-dressing, or at least mismatching physical attributes. The show is beautiful looking, notwithstanding some disappointingly noticeable CG. But it’s also so mild-mannered and subdued that it dangerously approaches being boring.

                The first two episodes of Berserk season 2 continue to remix the original manga narrative, but in both storytelling and production design, this season looks and feels like what last year's first season should have been.

                Honestly, I don't even know what to say about the first episode of Love Kome - We Love Rice.

                Prior to the launch of the current TV season, Seikaisuru Kado was one of the new programs that I had high hopes for. I'm glad to see that it's so far fulfilling expectations. The show plays like a hybrid of Arrival and Shin Godzilla. As I expected and hoped, it's a political thriller that prioritizes ideas and theories over action. I appreciate that the zero episode isn't absolutely necessary to tell the story but does serve to flesh out the protagonist before the primary story begins.

                Idol Time Pripara is both a sequel and spin-off from the previous PriPara series, but it's a bit frustrating and disappointing in two regards. Outside of its obligatory CG performance scene, the production values seem to have taken a step backward. The story is also a bit annoying because it uses the most blunt method of resetting carry-over character Lala back to square one so the show can reboot from zero.

                The first episode of Twin Angel Break feels a lot like the Twin Angel franchise's interpretation of Pretty Cure.

                Watched Iron Fist episodes 5-7. I still don't think this show is quite the disaster that its criticism suggests, but I am beginning to recognize that it's significantly weaker than Daredevil or Luke Cage.


                  Predictably, the first episode of Kabukibu unfolds exactly the way the first episode of Cheer Danshi does. I want to respect this show because I'm not aware of any other anime about kabuki. But as seems to typically be the case with these sort of contemporary anime, the show is more occupied with its bishonen boys than with the technical details of kabuki performance.

                  Dragon Ball Super episode 85 does introduce some new characters, but it feels like the most disposable episode in a while.

                  I'm glad to see that Precure A la Mode episode 9 depicts the girls introducing new ways of using their magic attacks. I'm conflicted over episode 10, though. Are the junior high girls really that much weaker than the high school girls? The episode suggests that just Akira & Yukari alone are enough to defeat the evil fairies. On the other hand, I'm pleased to see the episode finally introduce a conventional recurring villain. A superhero show needs a consistent nemesis to create some narrative tension.

                  Re:Creators turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I was more than half expecting yet another mediocre sci-fi/fantasy, but what was delivered was far more stylistic and unique. Granted, the core concept isn't entirely unique. Off the top of my head, I can recollect Satoshi Kon's manga Opus was likewise about fictional characters who literally meet their maker. But in terms of production values, this show feels most reminiscent of K. But thankfully Re:Creators doesn't seems far less pretentious and far more action-oriented than K. The two vocal songs featured in the episode are both infectiously catchy.

                  The first episode of Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai seems amusing, but with my very novice Japanese, I don't understand most of it, so I didn't get a precise sense of the show's humor.

                  I'm conflicted over the first episode of Eromanga-sensei. The siscon aspect of the story doesn't interest me very much. I didn't watch OreImo, either, for example. But the insights into creating and working in the Japanese genre industry do fascinate me.

                  Watched the first episode of Furusato Meguri: Nippon no Mukashi Banashi.

                  Watched the two Shingeki no Bahamut shorts before watching Virgin Soul episode 1. Although the new series first episode starts out modestly, it rapidly escalates into the sort of epic scale fantasy action that characterized much of the first series. This is an exceptional sword & sorcery series, but I'm distinctly bothered by the dirt on the camera lens trick used twice in the episode because the gimmick detracts from the immersion instead of enhancing it. While the technique is supposed to suggest the scale of the action, it also consciously draws attention to the idea that viewers are seeing the action through a camera lens, yet cameras don't exist in this fantasy world.

                  The second episode of Alice to Zouroku is far more mild than the first, but it's also a transitional episode.

                  One theater in my local area was screening Kimi no Na wa subtitled this weekend, so I went to see it for a second time on Saturday. I think the film works better on a big screen. Watching it a second time also make me notice and appreciate some smaller details that I hadn't entirely picked up on the first time around.

                  The first episode of Uchouten Kazoku 2 picks up roughly where the first series ended, both in narrative and production characteristic. The episode serves as a good reminder of how complex and how uniquely interesting this series is. But I can also easily imagine that new viewers unfamiliar with the first series will find this second series nearly impenetrable.

                  Astron 6 members Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski make little effort to hide their influences behind the creation of their horror film The Void. The film plays out, almost to a fault, as if Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter co-directed a film about a Lovecraftian cult. The movie is lean and mean, wasting little time evoking the tone and atmosphere of classic 80's monster horror such as The Beyond, The Thing, The Deadly Spawn, and The Prophecy. The movie also distinctly evokes more recent films In the Mouth of Madness and Silent Hill. The emphasis on practical effects is evident and very satisfying. Characterizations may be a bit one-note, but this is a film about atmosphere and horror, not a character drama, so once again it excels in the style of 80's monster horror. The film's final scene does narratively wrap up the film, but the argument can be made that the final scene oversteps the line of paying homage to Fulci to simply copying Fulci. In full disclosure, I was one of the film's IndieGoGo contributors. I got a little thrill out of seeing my name in the credits.


                    As expected, the first episode of Rilu Rilu Fairilu: Mahou no Kagami is cute, but the speed of the storytelling bothers me a bit. The first series took a great length of time to develop its plot points. The newborn fairilu had to be taught how to fly, and even after 26 episodes they still weren't skilled enough to create their own fairilu doors. However, the first episode of second series contains more major plot developments than the first 30 episodes of the original series combined. Somehow Lin knows how to fly instantly, and she can create a fairilu door on the same day she's born. There's just no consistency going on here.

                    Judging by its first episode, Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho is a weird production because tonally it's comparable to shounen fantasy series such as Fairy Tale, Tanken Driland, and Monster Hunter; however, it airs in a late night timeslot, suggesting that it's meant to be taken seriously in the vein of shows like Shingeki no Bahamut and Re:Zero. Furthermore, its art design is simplified, suggesting a mainstream shounen anime for children, but its sub-par animation quality suggests a cheap late night show production targeted at a small audience. It's considerably lower production quality than what I'm used to seeing from studio White Fox.

                    Watched Little Witch Academia episodes 13-14.

                    I'm very conflicted about the first episode of Fukumenkei Noise because the episode is very audacious. But much of that energetic irreverency is created by the episode's absurd excess of left-field mood swings, ridiculous coincidences, and moody drama so jam packed into a single premiere that little of the story feels believable.

                    I'm a bit disappointed that ID-0 concentrates heavily on lighthearted space action when I was hoping the show would be a bit more serious and dramatic in the vein of shows like Planetes, Rocket Girls, or Stellvia, or even Moeretsu Uchuu Kaizoku. However, the show skews a bit more in tone toward Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo, Vandread, and Sacred Seven.

                    Have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the first episode of Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasuka? Isogashii Desuka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desuka? Although not entirely on my own head, I was hoping and expecting that the show would be something a bit unique and special, but tonally it adheres pretty closely to the expectations of contemporary fantasy anime. In fact, apart from lacking giant robots, the first half of the first episode plays out with particularly similarities to both the first episodes of Aquarion Evol and Granblue Fantasy.

                    I understand that Kenka Banchou Otome is a joke; it's just not a good one. The show is a gender-swap of the type of stories that Honou no Tenkousei and Cromartie High School made fun of. But since this is a gimmicky yet straightforward iteration of titles like Bakuhatsu Goro, Bad Boys, Worst, and Angel Densetsu, it's not convincing because the characters are all far too pretty. The series tries to overcompensate for its too pretty characters by roughing up the setting to an absurd degree.

                    Room Mate is obviously the sibling show to last season's One Room. While One Room was a first-person perspective short for male siscon viewers, Room Mate is a first-person perspective short series for female bishounen fans and fujoshi. Technically, the show is already off to a bit of an annoying start because it's supposed to be first-person perspective yet it uses lots of camera perspectives that are not first-person.

                    The first episode of Duel Masters (2017) is typically insane. I get the idea of assembling a card deck, but creating one's own cards feels a bit like cheating to me. And creating cards by sticking a key into an alien card holder's butthole is downright weird.

                    I'm never particularly disappointed by episodes of Natsume Yuujinchou, but the first episode of the "Roku" season may have the weakest opening animation sequence of the franchise, and the episode felt like a half-hearted concession to new viewers.

                    The second episode of Sakura Quest distinctly feels like the show is coming together.

                    Watched the first HaiFuri OVA, which picks up with the fallout occurring immediately after the TV series story.

                    The second episode of Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism doesn't improve, but maybe this will just end up being one of the sub-par shows that I occasionally stick with regardless.

                    Although its first episode was fine and periodically impressive, the production quality of the second episode of Boruto was atrociously bad. For example, early in the episode when Boruto removes his backpack, I think his arm teleports from above his head to his side because the frame rate is so limited.

                    The omake shorts tacked onto the end of Tsuki ga Kirei episode 2 are actaully more entertaining than the core episode, although the actual episode really isn't bad.

                    Read more American comics. The first issue of Black Cloud distinctly feels like contemporary young adult fiction. The tone reminds me a lot of Harry Potter, Miss Peregrine’s Home, Percy Jackson, and so forth. So it'’s mildly interesting, but I’'m a bit disappointed that after taking the seeming progressive step of making the protagonist a black woman, the protagonist has so little character that the protagonist of the story could literally be a genderless robot, and the story wouldn'’t be any different. The first issue of Rock Candy Mountain gives me the impression that this series might be successful if it was a frequently published web comic. As a monthly print comic, I just can'’t see how it'’ll manage to retain readership. The seeming two lead characters have very little personality and even less motivation. The most interesting character in the first issue is the antagonist whom I’'m guessing readers won’t see very much of in the future. The comic series advertises its hobo fights and supernatural elements, but neither aspect of the comic is illustrated well enough to be compelling. The fifth issue of Head Lopper is still fun, but it distinctly feels like some of its story pacing is off. Similarly, I like the pacing and story build that Ninjak has been developing, but issue 25 seems to somewhat eschew that deliberate pacing as if an editor abruptly demanded that the present storyline conclude immediately. The Old Guard issue 2 continues to look and feel distinctly mediocre. Aliens Defiance issue 10 continues to introduce unpredictable plot developments. Divinity III issue 4 wraps up the mini-series adequately, although not exceptionally.


                      Not unexpectedly, the first episode of Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata Flat feels a lot like a slightly less hysteric sibling to Haganai.

                      Wathced the first episode of Hinako Note a second time, this time with subtitles, and continued on to the second episode. The show isn't fantastic, and its opening is trying much too hard to emulate Lucky Star. But since I'm watching fewer shows this season, I may stick with this one.

                      Setting aside production quality, which again isn't terrible, Berserk season 2 episode 3 captures the tone of Miura's Berserk manga better than any single episode I've seen since '98.

                      Watched Nobunaga no Shinobi episode 28.

                      Seikaisuru Kado episode 2 suggests that the show's pace is going to be quite slow, but I still highly appreciate the show's emphasis on thoughtfulness and rationality.

                      The Lupin III: Blood Spray of Goemon Ishikawa movie is very subtly a direct sequel to the Jigen's Gravestone movie and is setting up an ongoing narrative within these darker, more serious short films. And "Blood Spray" is debatably the darkest, most hard-boiled of all Lupin anime, surpassing even the 1996 "Dead or Alive" movie. "Blood Spray" carries on and escalates the previous film's surprising and shocking use of grotesquely graphic violence in pivotal scenes. This short film also feels more like a focused Goemon-centric movie than even 1987's "Plot of the Fuma Clan" did. This new film is not exactly grim, but it is basically humorless. It's fantastic and superior to "Jigen's Gravestone" because it's more focused and lean, but it's also vastly different in style and tone from the typical lighthearted TV and manga Lupin III.

                      Eromanga-sensei episode 2 may be the most aggravating, annoying single anime episode I've watched in a long time. I understand that Izumi cares about his little sister's well-being, but even after being given multiple reasons to cease speaking to the annoying and manipulative Megumi, he continues to allow her, a stranger, to intrude into his family's privacy and humiliate him and his sister. Then the second half of the episode introduces Kagurazaka, who's equally self-absorbed and annoying but in a different way. Then the episode even turns its main character into a reprehensible jerk when it reveals that Izumi wants what's best for his sister except when what's best for her hurts his own pride.

                      Watched the first episode of the 100% Pascal-sensei TV series.

                      The first episode of PriPri Chi-chan is definitely the latest show in the vein of Mirumo de Pon and Chibi Devi.

                      I enjoyed the first episode of Sword Oratoria more than I did the first episode of DanMachi because Sword Oratoria appears to be a straightforward sword & sorcery adventure while DanMachi wanted to be a risque parody yet wasn't willing to go all out like Queen's Blade or Bikini Warriors. I still can't say that I loved the first episode of Sword Oratoria. It's average; I just didn't dislike it.

                      In Dragon Ball Super episode 86 I like the suggestion that the show is
                      . However, I'm still frustrated by the inconsistency in power levels. SSJ Blue Goku should be as strong as a lower-level god, so even if he's holding back while SSJ Blue, Junnanago still shouldn't be able to match him.

                      Periodically anime come along that visually and tonally epitomize the attitude that otaku amorphously associate with and define as "anime." Certain shows just make us think, "This is the very definition of 'anime.'" Certain examples include Akira, the R.O.D. OVA series, Jubei Ninpucho, Evangelion, Gundam Seed or Gundam OO, Madoka Magica, Suzumiya Haruhi, Kekkai Sensen. The second episode of Re:Creators ads itself to that list handily.

                      Particularly like episode 2, Alice to Zouroku episode 3 continues to be just a little bit annoying because it seems to have to struggle to come up with situations and reasons why Alice is vulnerable or helpless when she's supposed to have infinite power.

                      Honestly, I was anxious that Atom the Beginning would feel childish or that it would compromise the narrative timeline of Tetsuwan Atom, so I was surprised to find the first episode very watchable. Interesting characterizations combined with Production I.G. animation quality make the show plausible as a Tetsuwan Atom back story rather than a thoughtless cash-in.

                      Uchouten Kazoku 2 episode 2 is quite interesting.

                      Watched the second episode of Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai.

                      So the girls power up in Precure A la Mode episode 11. I'm much rather see them just regress and punch their enemies in the face the way traditional Cures do.

                      I was hoping for a bit more substance from Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine episode 2, but it's essentially a carbon copy of episode 1.

                      Snack World seems unusual for a number of odd reasons. Precure A la Mode has a very heavy emphasis on pastries and sweets. Snack World evidently has nothing at all to do with snacks; it's just a straightforward sword & sorcery comedy. Although the show is CG, it's animated to replicate stop-motion animation, complete with the jerkiness associated with reposing model figures used in stop-motion animation.

                      I'm surprised to have a mixed reaction to the first episode of Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai. As these Kinji Yoshimoto produced shows tend to, it looks lovely and has nice animation quality, but particularly in this episode much of the battle animation is so abstract that it's difficult to follow. And setting aside the changes to the conventional lore, like Satan and Lucifer being two different characters and neither being the ruler of Hell, the first episode's story feels terribly disjointed.

                      Watched Iron Fist episodes 8-12.


                        Watched ID-O episode 2.

                        The first episode of Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head: Kidou Kyuukyuu Keisatsu is a revival or reboot of Tomica Hero Rescue Force, which makes it also very similar to Machine Robo Rescue, and particularly the "A" part of the first episode felt especially like Patlabor for children.

                        Outside of Chariot's action scene, I don't think Little Witch Academia episode 15 is an exceptional episode, but I am glad that it's shifting the focus back onto Akko rather than devoting too much attention to the new villain.

                        Natsume Yuujinchou Roku episode 2 made up for the underwhelming episode 2 by being a touching episode that subtly turns expectations upside down.

                        Even considering that Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism is a mediocre show at best, episode 3 is still a disappointement. At least the first two episodes put some significant effort into their action scenes. Episode 3 perfunctorily and rather poorly just immitates the style of the previous episode action scenes.

                        Watched Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul episode 2.

                        Tsuki ga Kirei episode 3 is rather slow but nicely edited.

                        Again, much like Hanasaku Iroha, at episode 3 Sakura Quest still feels a bit like it's still finding its footing.

                        Watched Berserk second season episode 3.

                        To the degree that the first episode of Sword Oratoria drew me in, the second episode pushed me away. Unlike the first episode that was a straightforward fantasy adventure, the second episode is standard slapstick romantic comedy. I don't watch a sword & sorcery anime to see girls playing dress up, girls giving presents to other girls, and boys asking girls what kind of guy they like. Moreover, the cameo in the first episode was a cute gag. Repeating the cameo in the second episode begins to suggest that the whole point of this series is just to serve as superfluous "official fan fiction" for DanMachi fans.

                        Seikaisuru Kado episode 3 continues to be very intriguing because it practically forces viewers to be suspicious and react in opposition to our instinct.

                        Watched the very cute second Kobayashi-san Chi no OO Dragon special.

                        Read a number of comics including Helena Crash #2, Seven to Eternity #5, Doctor Aphra #6, Green Valley #7, Savage Things #2, and Paper Girls #13. Highlander: American Dream issues 2 & 3 at least feel plausible as a backstory to the original movie, but occasionally McCleod's dialogue feels out of character, and the interior art continues to not even vaguely resemble Christopher Lambert. WicDiv issue 28 supposedly concludes a storyline, but it continues to feel very disjointed, and the supposed threat of the "great darkness" seemed to go nowhere. Fish Eye issue 2 has an obvious Harb Boiled homage cover, and to its credit, the issue does fix some of the weakness of the first issue by including some graphic carnage. But the cartoonish stylized art continues to get in the way of the graphic violence having a visual impact. So the comic continues to be an intriguing concept mired by weak execution. The first issue of Eleanor and the Egret has style but not a lot of substance, so it doesn't actually make much of an impact. The final issue of Providence feels particularly "Lovecraftian" and does a nice job of wrapping up Moore's Courtyard/Necronomicon/Providence trilogy.

                        Finished off Iron Fist episode 13. Although the series is less intense than either Daredevil or Luke Cage, I don't think it's quite as terrible as the worst critics have said about it. All of the Netflix Marvel shows have flaws in their logic, but at times Iron Fist, both the show and the character, seem especially stupid. The season one cliffhanger is especially guilty, as absolutely none of it makes any logical sense. I can easily think of a half-dozen plot holes related to just the two cliffhanger scenes.

                        I thought Iron Fist had its dumb moments until I watched Shield season 4 episodes 15 & 16. Good God, these episodes are willing to sacrifice any and all believable logic in order to sustain the intended storyline.


                          Sadly, the narrative quality of Eromanga-sensei seems to continue to decline with every episode. In episode 3, Izumi comes across as a jerk for suggesting a "fair" wager when he knows he already has an unfair advantage. Then he comes across as just narrow-minded when he dismisses Elf's work ethic because it's not the same as his own. Episode 4 is fine, albeit unremarkable.

                          Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 87-89. Episode 88 finally, after so many years, gives fans our beloved Gohan back.

                          The production values on Boruto episode 3 recovered about half-way from the second episode. Thankfully, episode 4 felt normal.

                          I'm honestly surprised that Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai may be the first of the new season shows that I abandon. I want to like the show, but after two episodes, it's clearly revealing itself as the absolute worst kind of multimedia project anime. It has characters with ready-made personalities, and that's it. After two episodes, the anime series doesn't even appear to have a plot. Things just happen for seemingly no discernable reason.

                          Alice to Zouroku episode 4 continues to squander its potential. The argument may be made that Sana is a child; therefore she behaves with ineffectual childlike logic. But I think that's an overly generous critique. The story is simply stretching to create artificial suspense. As a result, the story developments feel artificial and unrealistic. Thankfully the action in episode 5 helped compensate.

                          Uchouten Kazoku 2 episode 3 is quite an interesting episode. Episode 4 is wonderfully entertaining.

                          Watched Atom the Beginning episode 2.

                          Watched Precure A la Mode episode 12-14. I'm surprised by how quickly the girls are powering up, but that may be necessary since they seemed so underpowered at first and even now still seem weaker than average Cures since they strictly use magic.

                          Watched Hinako Note episode 3. The show is passable but not exceptional. Kuu-chan is the show's highlight, but she's essentially a hybrid of Lucky Star's Konata and Acchi Kocchi's Tsumiki.

                          As of Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul episode 3, I like the way the story is continuing the first series by branching from the original story. Also watched episode 4.

                          Watched Little Witch Academia episodes 16-18.

                          Watched Natsume Roku episode 3.

                          Watched Tsuki ga Kirei episode 4.

                          Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism episode 4 is silly and stupid, but this episode's not bad because it plays to its ridiculous strengths.

                          Watched Berserk episodes 5-6.

                          I've thought of Re:Creators as the best new anime of the current season, but as of episode 4 I'm highly inclined to consider Seikaisuru Kado at least equal to it. I really appreciate episode 5 because it fulfilled its promise to viewers in a completely different way than I'd expected.

                          On one hand I'm disappointed that the philosophy in Re:Creators episode 4 isn't more clear and explicit. On the other hand, I respect that it's intelligent enough to remain vague so it can sound plausible without being pretentious.

                          ID-O episode 3 disappoints me a bit because the crew has spent two episodes inflating their egos and convincing Maya of how badass they all are, yet as soon as they get into a pinch, they're helpless. Episode 4 is fast-paced, but I'm still bothered by the fact that no one seems curious at all about the little girl who appears to be a first in known history.

                          Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 50-55.

                          Watched Sakura Quest 4-5.

                          Monstress issue 11 continues to intrigue and fascinate. This issue reminds me that Maika Halfwolf is an ideal anti-heroine. Readers know how much she’s been victimized and suffered, so instinctively our compassion goes toward her. She’s also the protagonist of the story, so we compulsively perceive her as the “heroine” of the story. Yet once again in issue 11 Maika demonstrates that she adheres only to her own personal code of morality which is based in her own blunt self-interest. She does not exhibit the conventional characteristics or morality that readers would typically associate with a “hero,” yet she’s also not a villain. Particularly in issue 11 I’m curious about why Maika lied to the Cumaean escapee when the situation suggested that telling the truth wouldn’t have changed the situation in any way. Ninjak issue 26 seems to get its pacing back in order and wraps up the storyline with a significant plot development that will likely affect Colin King’s life psychologically and practically as the series continues. Finally got around to reading the final issue of writer Donnie Cates’ sci-fi/vampire action comic mini-series Interceptor. The primary story wraps up predictably but effectively. The first issue of Failsafe, previously published as “Insurgent,” coincidentally nearly mirrors the current Savage Things comic mini-series. And like Savage Things, the first issue of Failsafe is serviceable but unremarkable. The first issue of Plastic tries very hard to be uncomfortable and grotesque, but it actually only ends up being moderately graphic. It provides nothing to make readers care about any of the characters or events depicted within. On the other hand, without any sensationalism, Sex Criminals issue 18 is a humorous, satirical, melancholy examination of interpersonal relationships in which sex is simultaneously a connector and a divider. Read Black Hammer issue 8.

                          Watched Archer season 8 episodes 1-4.

                          Watched Shield episodes 18-20. So what the hell? ADA is now both human and a witch?

                          I've only watched Guardians of the Galaxy once, so my perception may be skewed when I say that I'm hard pressed to say whether or not I like the second film more. Although "volume 2" is different in tone and scope, it's at least as much fun as the first film.


                            Watched Natsume Roku episodes 4-7. Episode 7 is a particularly good one.

                            Watched Sakura Quest episodes 6-8.

                            Watched Eromanga-sensei episode 5.

                            Watched Tsuki ga Kirei episodes 5 & 6.

                            Watched Seikaisuru Kado episode 6.

                            Watched Berserk season 2 episodes 7 & the outstanding episode 8, which serves as a perfect representation of the fantasy horror aspect of the Berserk story.

                            ID-0 episode 5 is fairly interesting, but once again the crew doesn't react to the fantastic or unbelievable with quite the shock or the curiosity that I think normal humans ought to.

                            Watched Dragon Ball Super episodes 90 & 91. I can't figure out whether Gohan is ridiculously strong or whether the show is playing fast and loose with its storytelling. My instinct is that Gohan still shouldn't be able to even threaten SSJ Blue Goku.

                            Alice to Zouroku episode 6 is a simple but pleasant episode. Episode 7 is largely similar.

                            Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism episode 5 is fairly fun. Also watched episodes 6 & 7.

                            Watched Re:Creators episodes 5-7.

                            Watched the New Game OVA.

                            Little Witch Academia episodes 19 & 20 remind viewers that this is an exceptional show.

                            Likewise, Uchoten Kazoku 2 episodes 5-7 feel more natural than the first season did. As though the first season was trying just a bit too hard, the second season feels more confident and able to depict all of its "foolishness" without a need to jam pack it all in or make a big deal about it.

                            Watched Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai episodes 3-6, which are all amusing. But episode 3 particularly illustrates the problem of stretching a four panel comic into a three minute sketch.

                            Watched Bakuon OVA 2, which distinctly feels very 80's ish because it's so odd without explanation.

                            Read the first issue of creator Scott Blair's indie comic VS. Narratively the issue is a conventional introduction that does little more than introduce the primary cast. The artistic presentation is a bit odd because Blair's forte is obviously character art. The vibrantly colored cheesecake girls throughout the issue are lovely, but the deco style coloring highlights the distracting absence of background art. The entire comic has so little background art that it feels unfinished.

                            My biggest complaint with Alien: Covenant isn'’t the point that most critics seem to immediately focus on. In fact, in one sense I found the film to be a singular, organic story rather than a film in two parts, which is a common criticism, although, in a different sense, I do agree with the common sentiment. The reason why I find the film very underwhelming is its lack of significance. According to the IMDB, every one of Ridley Scott’'s eleven highest rated directorial features was created as a stand-alone film. Alien: Covenant is very obviously a film that’'s foremost function is to simply bridge the gap between Prometheus and Alien: Awakening. Thus, while “Covenant” does contain some important story building blocks, the total film feels inconsequential and irrelevant. It’'s a lot of padding surrounding a few important nuggets of story. More importantly, it’'s directed as though it’'s padding surrounding a few important points. Characterizations are adequately substantial, although the film would have been much stronger had the “Last Supper” clip been integrated into the finished product, but much of the film lacks tone or atmosphere. Scott’'s Alien had nearly unbearable suspense. Prometheus had a tremendous sense of mystery. Covenant is merely workmanlike, simply adequate to function as a transition but nothing more. I’'ve heard critics accuse the film of narratively changing gears two-thirds of the way through. I think the story is sufficiently cohesive from beginning to end. But stylistically the film feels like it has two concurrent focuses. The film is distinctly a thematic Prometheus sequel. But it distinctly feels like it adds a second layer of conventional (emphasis on conventional) Alien stalk & prey violence both to satisfy fan clamor and to prove that Ridley Scott can still direct horrific violence. Yet both of these parallel intentions enhance the impression that the film exists to fill a gap rather than because it had a compelling story to tell or other reason to exist. Probably as a byproduct of the film feeling like it was rushed through production just to serve as a placeholder, Covenant contains at least as much stupidity as Prometheus. But at least the lapses in common sense within Covenant aren'’t quite as blatantly obvious as they were in Prometheus. Further disappointing, Prometheus left viewers highly curious about what would come next and how its story would eventually converge with the life of Ellen Ripley. Covenant leaves me wondering how it’s even possible for this film to eventually converge with Ripley’s encounter on the Nostromo, unless the story development of Covenant is even less relevant than I imagined.

                            The season’s final two episodes of Shield manage to wrap up the “Agents of Hydra” storyline without feeling too rushed. Thankfully the stupidity is also minimal in these episodes, although the conflict relies on the assumption that a super-intelligent cyborg doesn’t calculate that Fitz in real life might have different feelings toward her than he did in his alternate digital life. And (not a real spoiler), the resolution also relies on the nearly deus ex machina return of Ghost Rider. The season five tease cliffhanger ending, though, may be the most interesting plot twist of the series so far.

                            American Gods episode 2 is again quite bawdy, uncomfortable, intriguing and fascinating while still holding its cards very tightly to its vest.

                            The Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead pilot is a lot of fun and serves as fantastic evidence that directors Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner haven'’t lost a step since their 2014 debut feature.


                              Eromanga-sensei episode 6 makes me hope that the show is an exaggeration because it really suggests that young light novel writers are all brats. And the stupidity in episode 7 is nearly off the charts. Izumi's publisher willingly discards the original purpose of the writing contest. Masamune's assertion that she writes only to read her own stories is dumb. The assertion that all writers should have complete confidence in their writing is a juvenile fantasy. Masamune's mood swings compared to her motivations don't even make any sense. If Masamune is as intelligent and capable as the show tells viewers she is, how does she have such poor taste and such weak ability to critique literature? I understand that Sagiri loves her brother because he dotes on her. But I don't understand why other girls are attracted to him when he's so flighty and stupid. For example, a victory based strictly on luck isn't a victory worth taking pride in.

                              I have a mixed reaction to the first two episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS. The series introduces a new continuity that's surprisingly a bit older: teen rather than preadolescent. I appreciate the slightly more mature tone, but the storytelling is still exposition heavy. It's also a bit difficult to distinguish the difference between the digital VRAINS space and the real world because the show itself depicts them simultaneously without any distinction. Furthermore, the actual card game play seems a bit suspicious to me first because players seemingly have assistance from computer programs, which seemingly takes skill out of the game, and because the second episode depicts Yusaku winning by luck as much as skill.

                              I'm surprised to see a handicapped character appear in the second Gabriel Dropout OVA. I was even more surprised to see a Sazan Eyes reference. This particular episode serves as a particularly good conclusion for the anime series.

                              Conceptually the Jump Festa Black Clover short movie is Naruto revolving around magic instead of ninjutsu. It also shares a core characterization concept with Break Blade. The short movie includes a few moments of very nice animation quality. The origin story is servicable but strictly by-the-numbers cliche.

                              Last episode, I thought that Berserk was beginning to vary from the manga. As of episode 21 I'm certain that the anime is once again changing the manga story, but while different, the anime story development isn't bad. However, the anime design and literal animation particularly through the first quarter of episode 21 were unusually poor.

                              Watched Sword Oratoria episodes 3-7. The show isn't consistently the swashbuckling sword & sorcery adventure I'd like it to be, but it does manage to incorporate just enough fantasy action to keep me from abandoning the show.

                              Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 92.

                              The first half of Alice to Zouroku episode 8 is jarring, but the second half of the episode explains.

                              Watched the short, inconsequential Dimension W OVA.

                              Watched Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai episodes 7 & 8, the former of which was particularly fun.

                              Little Witch Academia episode 21 is an emotionally powerful one.

                              Watched Precure A la Mode episodes 15-17. Episode 16 stands out not due to great action because none of this series' episodes have great action but because the episode hinges on more sophisticated and subtle characterization than normal.

                              Watched Seikaisuru Kado episode 7.

                              In domestic comics, read Green Valley #8, Eleanor & the Egret #2, Ninjak #27, 4 Kids Walk into a Bank #4, and Batman/TMNT Adventures #6.


                                Tsuki ga Kirei episode 7 is a substantial, meaningful episode. Akane & Kouta really do make a good couple when Akane relaxes and allows herself to actually enjoy being with her boyfriend instead of being anxious about everything. And as usual, the omake segments are great.

                                Watched Hinako Note episodes 4 & 5.

                                Seikaisuru Kado episode 8 dives even more heavily into philosophy, ethical possibility, and sci-fi of ideas that make it immensely fascinating.

                                Watched Wonder Kids' 1985 OVA Chuuhai Lemon: Love 30s - Ame ni Nurete mo. It's a light drama set in the early ‘80s in Tokyo revolving around a high school girl who falls for a gruff, macho adult police officer. There's nothing particularly remarkable about it apart from a fellow police officer encouraging the under-aged girl to try drinking a glass of chuuhai with ice and a lemon wedge, and separately the fact that the OVA prominently uses BJ Thomas' “Raindrop Keep Falling On My Head” as its opening and ending theme song (appropriately since it's the OVA's subtitle), seemingly without authorization because the song is not credited at all in the opening or ending credits scrolls.

                                Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 93.

                                Watched Uchoten Kazoku 2 episode 8.

                                Watched the third Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon BD omake.

                                Watched the second Himouto! Umaru-chan OAD.

                                Watched the neat 1982 "Dirty Pair no Daibouken, part 2" doujin anime created by the Nihon University College of Science and Engineering.

                                Tatsunoko's 1984 series Okawari Boy Starzan-S appears to take as much inspiration from Return of the Jedi as it does Tarzan. The titular "Starzan" Hoshio's personality is reminiscent of Ryo Saeba's. He also swings through the jungles on vines, making the "Tarzan" yell. The first episode's climactic battle is very obviously a copy of the Ewoks vs Empire battle. Characters including "Darth Below" and "Obiwan Senobi" are obvious Star Wars references. And, on a side note, Yoshitaka Amano's character design for female co-star Jun is adorably cute, reminiscent of a predecessor to Akai Kodan's Zillion's Apple. I find it a bit baffling and disappointing that this show was unsuccessful and became relatively forgotten because the first episode is quite fun with a handsomely animated Starzan vs robots climactic fight sequence.

                                Natsume Roku episode 9 harkens back to the tone of the series' earliest and best episodes.

                                Read some comics. The Old Guard issue 4 distinctly feels like it's unrealistically manipulating its plot developments in order to make the story go where the author wants. Character behaviors just don't make sense unless they're acting in particular ways just because the plot insists they have to. Black Hammer issue 9 is an unusual issue that isn't very substantial or impactful. Highlander: The American Dream issue 4 continues to seem passable but not excellent. Now both Conner & Kurgen fail to look like their film counterparts, and Conner's personality still doesn't feel similar to his characterization in the original movie. Seven to Eternity issue 6 may be the strongest issue yet, although it absolutely needs the characterizations and plot developments of the prior issues to make sense. Part of me thinks that Monstress issue 12 is excellent while part of me thinks that the plot revelations and action in issues 11 & 12 would be more comprehensible and impactful if they were spread out into a third issue to allow more breathing room and explanation. Underneath an exceptional cover illustration, the first issue of David Baron & Yusuf Idris' sci-fi/action comic Stained is unfortunately mediocre. The writing lacks rhythm and style; it's bluntly expository. Characters expound at length information to each other that they should all already know, or dialogue feels unnaturally explanatory. The action regrettably sacrifices some logic and believability in favor of cinematic visuals. The interior art does nothing to enhance the cyberpunk setting or tone.

                                Largely based on the strength of their first three albums from 1982-1984, Original Asia is my favorite rock band. Watched their 2013 "Symfonia ~ Live in Bulgaria" concert DVD. I've seen Asia in person twice and watched all of their official live recordings. Since reassembling, the band has consistently had a problem with the tempo of their performances. I've heard it in person. I noticed it on this concert DVD. The performances of "Time Again," "An Extraordinary Life," "Days Like These," "Only Time Will Tell," and "Don't Cry" are just a slight beat too fast. "Face on the Bridge" is played much too fast. "The Smile has Left Your Eyes" is played a half-beat too fast, but Wetton's vocals are particularly soulful on this song, which salvage the performance. Likewise, the performance of "Holy War" is way too fast, but Wetton's vocals manage to make it work. The opening number, "Sole Survivor," starts out a bit rough but evens out half-way through. The performance of "My Own Time" briefly slips off tempo but is otherwise good. "Open Your Eyes" and "Heroine" are played slower and allowed some time to breath and sink in and as a result are the best numbers of the concert despite "Heroine" being one of the band's weaker songs. "Wildest Dreams" is also a bit faster than it should be, but like "Heat of the Moment," it's a song that can get away with a half-beat faster tempo.

                                For the most part, co-writer & director Ben Wheatley's film Free Fire is capably made. But sadly it doesn't seem to have a point. Occasionally it's mildly amusing, and certainly Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, and Cillian Murphy have strong character personalities. But sadly the film is rather tedious because after the first five minute set-up, the characters initially butt heads verbally, then quickly escalate to fisticuffs; then the bulk of the movie consists simply of characters ducking and squeezing off shots at anyone that moves. So the bulk of the film has a foxhole tone of stalemate frustration. No one wants to continue or escalate the firefight, but no one wants to give up, either, leaving the entire situation feeling pointless. Since all of the characters adopt a “let's just see what happens” attitude, the film predictably limps along until it stumbles to an end. The film isn't remotely funny enough to be a comedy, not exciting enough to be an action film, and not engaging enough to be suspenseful. More than anything it's just an exercise in assembling a film with a relatively large cast but a small location.

                                Continued in next post.