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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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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