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    I watched the first episode of Dream Fes R just because it's technically a new 2017 series, but it's still basically a bishounen Aikatsu. And when the series' conflict is entirely celebrity pop stars struggling to become even bigger celebrities, the show just doesn't have characterizations, drama, or conflict that I can relate to or empathize with.

    Thankfully Knight's & Magic has strong characterizations and exciting action because the abrupt introduction of numerous new characters and even entirely new countries in episode 9, coupled with the whole concept of "demon beasts" largely getting cast aside and the entire concept of Ernesti's past life being forgotten really feels like the show is just jumping from one idea to the next with the barest minimum of continuity.

    Watched Kakegurui episodes 8 & 9.

    Watched Aho Girl episode 9.

    Watched Made in Abyss episode 9.

    Watched Tsurezure Children episode 9.

    Watched Sakura Quest episode 22.

    Watched Cheer Fruits episodes 5-8.

    Watched Dragon Ball Super episodes 105 & 106.

    Every now and again excellent anime films sort of slip under the radar and don't achieve the fan acclaim they deserve, such as Piano no Mori, Hells, and Majokko Shimai Yoyo no Nene. So I finally got around to watching the Neppu Kairiku Bushiroad movie in hopes that it would fall into the same category. It falls short by a long way. If I recall correctly, the concept was originally supposed to be a television series but was revised into a movie, thus explaining why the movie feels so much like a compilation movie. Large chunks of the film's development seem to be missing. I'll drop some spoilers because the film isn't good enough to warrant a lot of respect. Princess Ame seems to fall in love with Suo literally overnight, despite knowing virtually nothing at all about him. Suo's fighting ability alternates between superhuman and sub-par depending on what the narrative needs at the time. The princess' retinue are just cardboard figures that take up space. They serve zero purpose in the movie. The movie includes a literally obligatory heroic sacrifice strictly because these type of movies always contain a heroic sacrifice. In the case of this movie, there's no reason for it; it just happens because the trope is considered necessary. Half way through the movie a new country is introduced literally for just one brief scene. Likewise, half way through the movie the film introduces a major new character who is almost immediately ignored as irrelevant. So I don't understand why both plot developments weren't edited out as unnecessary distractions. The movie is weak through its first two-thirds, but when the third act hits the film just turns into crap. The villain reveals all of his powers, yet if his goal was to eliminate humanity, and he had such extensive powers, why didn't he wipe out humanity long ago? He reveals that he needed the “legendary holy weapon.” Except the holy weapon only functions with the princess piloting it, yet he was prepared to kill the princess. This is literally the same logic as, “I want the treasure inside the locked safe, but I'm going to destroy the key before I open the safe.” A piloted robot that doesn't respond to its pilot seems pretty darn useless. It makes no sense that weapons created to battle the same opponent yet created by different civilizations aren't compatible with each other until they suddenly are. During the climax the antagonists shout scraps of philosophy at each other that don't form a cohesive debate; they're all random fragments of entirely different ideas, so as a whole nothing the characters are saying makes any logical sense. Sadly, the movie is nice looking and fairly well animated, but narratively it's a complete failure.

    Read some comics. Creator Daniel Warren Johnson's fantasy war comic series Extremity was initially promoted as, “the beauty and imagination of Studio Ghibli meet the intensity of Mad Max.” Having now finally read the first issue, I'm not convinced that either implication in the comparison is valid. Apart from the most superficial similarities, including soldiers wearing armor and bulky flying ships, I don't see any overt similarities between this comic series and Ghibli anime. Moreover, the violence of Mad Max has always been more psychological than graphic. The violence is explicit yet not visceral. The gory, graphic violence of Extremity seems more comparable to Game of Thrones or even outright horror movies than the exhilarating yet bloodless Mad Max films. Thanks to a brisk pace that doesn't sacrifice characterization, the first issue of Extremity is exciting and interesting. Sex Criminals issue 20 by itself isn't particularly remarkable, but the issue exhibits every characteristic that makes the series so acclaimed. The 3-D fantasy sequence within Hillbilly issue 7 is pretty neat, but I'm disappointed that the comic didn't ship with a pair of paper 3-D glasses. Seven to Eternity is based fundamentally on the theme of betrayal and uncertain loyalty, but issues 7 & 8 contain so many betrayals and shifts in allegiance that the story is starting to feel like a parody of itself. Writer Justin Jordan's Savage Things issues 5 & 6 continue to feel like a very tightly and deliberately structured action thriller. The story seems ideally suited for cinema, but at the same time it's much more grounded and “realistic” than the wildly imaginative stories I expect and prefer from Jordan. Read Black Magick issue 7. Read Mother Russia issue 2. Motor Girl issues 7 & 8 are fascinating because they structurally invert the series internal psychological fantasy with its external “real world” fantasy. Black Hammer issues 11 & 12 continue to dive deeply into character psychology and the mystery of the setting, proving once again that the series earns its Eisner award as best new comic series of 2017.

    Watched the Vikings beat the 49ers with the final play of the game in pre-season week 3.

    Finished off the last episode of Game of Thrones season 7.

    At last, Twin Peaks episode 16 really feels like Twin Peaks once again.

    Defenders episodes 4 & 5 ramp up the action and feel distinctly more exciting and satisfying than the prior episodes.

    Comment


      In Knight's & Magic episode 10 it's nice to see that even the supporting characters can step up when necessary. However, Princess Eleonora is tremendously annoying because she carries herself like a princess, but she has no sense of the responsibility and weight of her position. How can she be so well educated yet simultaneously so stupid?

      I noticed two details within Precure A la Mode episode 28. I wonder if the first scene was animated by a different key artist because all of the girls looked just a bit pudgier than usual, resulting in them looking a little bit cuter than normal. And in episode 28 Cure Gelato directly punched the Noir Inflation monster of the week. I'm pretty sure that's the first time in the TV episodes that one of the girls has punched a monster instead of using a magic attack. Also watched episodes 29 & 30.

      The most I can say for the Rakuen Tsuihou ~ Expelled from Paradise movie is that it's okay. The film wants to be a thoughtful drama about philosophical ideas including the debatable advantages of human evolution, the nature of freedom, and the definition of humanity, but the movie does very little more than merely introduce its ideas in passing because it also wants to be an accessible, conventional anime sci-fi action film despite containing relatively little action. The narrative is thankfully cohesive, but it feels like a first draft that hasn't been refined and focused. Protagonist Angela Balzac is depicted as a capable adult woman, and she acts as such during her introductory scene. Yet as soon as she “downloads” her consciousness into a teenage body, throughout the remainder of the film she suddenly behaves like a pouty, spoiled teenager instead of the demure, sophisticated adult she was introduced as. Much of the film is sadly just a bit boring because it's a detective search for a criminal who's not trying to hide. So the conflict is minimal and easily solved, and lack of action further drains the film of excitement. Furthermore, while the film's partial goal is to be an intelligent conversation about abstract ideas, much of the film revolves around sadly believable errors in judgment like an elite special agent failing to fully research and prepare for the rigors of her mission and, oddly, battle mecha that aren't built to withstand civilian small arms fire.

      After New Game S2 episode 8 devoted so much attention to the new characters, I didn't think we needed another episode that did the same thing, but episode 9 did exactly that.

      Aho Girl episode 10 is exceptionally funny, particuarly with its motorcycle race and Licca-chan gags.

      Watched Tsurezure Children episode 10.

      The 2013 promotional Ark IX OVA based on Yasui Kentarou's light novels is totally 80s. More literally, the short is most comparable to the tail-end golden age OVAs including Midnight Eye Goku (1989), Cyber City Oedo 808 (1990), Ninja Ryukenden (1991), and the 1993 “Double X” music video that began to merge 80's style action with 90's visual design. For God's sake, the protagonist is a private detective ninja who battles supernatural monsters and cyborgs! The action clearly adheres to the philosophy that looking cool is more important than having any common sense or even being physically possible. The major flaw of the production is that since it's just an eleven-minute sizzle reel, it provides no introduction, no context, and only the barest minimum of comprehensible narrative structure. The concept and entire execution are laughably excessive. The protagonist appears to have an infinite number of ninja techniques at his instant disposal to accommodate absolutely any circumstance. Yet the sheer absurd audacity of the promo reel makes it fun.

      Watched the first short episode of the Nui Nui Hinobori San Kyoudai web anime series. I'm excited that I was able to understand all of the spoken dialogue, which actually just proves that the show is very simplistic.

      Watched all three episodes of the Shirotan web anime.

      The Asagao to Kase-san promotional music video is a sweet & pretty introduction to Hiromi Takashima's manga about two high school girls whose friendship deepens into something close to love.

      Watched Aggressive Retsuko episodes 60-72.

      I watched the first episode of Ninjaman Ippei to see what the show is like. Its combination of slapstick humor with oddly adult sex references and comical violence are very similar to other early 80's precocious kids shows such as Gallat, Ranpou, and Maichingu Machiko-sensei.

      Watched Sakura Quest episode 23.

      The 2013 short film Hinata no Aoshigure is mostly a charming slice of life romance, but it really pays off during its climax when the animation turns toward fanciful flights of fantasy.

      Comment


        Production I.G's Phantom of the Kill OVA has better production values than the typical one-shot video game adaptation, but it suffers the standard narrative problems. Namely, nothing makes sense. It's unclear whether Zero is one person or one of many clones. The “ancient arms” swords are supposed to be super powerful, but if they're so strong, why the need to create superhumans to wield them? I don't comprehend the hypocrisy that seemingly it's blasphemy to create organic hybrids, but creating cyborgs is okay. And if creating cyborgs is both acceptable and possible, why don't the scientists just create more cyborgs instead of trying and failing to create monster/human hybrids? Authorization and funding to continue genetic experimentation is a big part of the story, but I can't fathom why because the society doesn't seem to have any shortage of either electricity or human volunteers, and the society doesn't appear to use money. I have no clue what the “Elisium gods” are that are introduced in the closing minutes of the episode.

        Watched the Brave Witches: Petersburg Daisenryaku OVA, which is technically unbroadcast TV episode 7.5. Since it's a pretty uneventful and unnecessary episode, I see why it was relagated to being a supplemental OVA.

        The 2014 CG anime short film Nemure Omoi Ko Sora no Shitone ni has an interesting concept and effective tone, but it still feels just a bit undercooked. The film hinges on its characterizations but too many plot developments occur without adequately establishing character personalities or relationships. Character behaviors seem to turn abruptly because viewers don't know enough about what kind of people the characters really are and don't know anything about their backgrounds or interests. At only 50 minutes long, the film would have benefitted from a slightly longer length to allow the characterizations to be better fleshed out and better illustrate the way characters' attitudes evolve and change.

        Made in Abyss episode 10 is certainly grim, but its impact is unfortunately limited because viewers already know for certain that the characters will pull through somehow.

        I watched the Eiyuu Kaitai OVA a year or more ago, but since someone finally translated it, I watched it again. Translated dialogue makes it far more comprehensible, but it's still not especially interesting.

        Just because it was a bit of a novelty, I watched the Monster Strike side-story special “Zenritsu no Lucifer: Tada Hitotsu no Hajimari no Uta.” It's pretty nice looking but narratively is strictly conventional. I'm bothered by the official English subtitles, though, because the episode's main character is Lucifer, whom the subtitles strictly refer to as “Lucy.” Her cousin is named “Satan,” but the English subtitles insist on calling him “Lucifer.”

        After getting used to Kakegurui moving at such a brisk pace, it's startling to watch episode 10 do so little to advance the story.

        Watched the short Chuuko Video-Ya no Onna Tenin X web anime.

        The Red Ash -Magicicada- pilot film is pretty impressive because it manages to pack a tremendous amount of characterization and personality into a relatively short film. Furthermore, the action isn't unique, but its direction and editing manage to make it exciting nevertheless.

        Watched New Game S2 episode 10.

        Watched Tsurezure Children episode 11.

        Knight's & Magic episode 11 is interesting because it clearly depicts the tragedy of overconfidence then proposes the possibility that the protagonists are now falling into the very same psychological trap.

        In one respect, the fifth and final issue of writer Matthew Rosenberg's Black Mask published comic series 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank reminds me of his prior Black Mask series, We Can Never Go Home. Both series now make me wonder if Rosenberg simply has a weakness for writing endings. We Can Never Go Home had a strong first and second issue, amazing third and fourth issues, then a train wreck fifth issue. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank had a very entertaining four issues of build up leading to the climax, denouement, and epilogue all getting jammed into roughly half of one final issue. The series' final issue doesn't leave any plot points hanging, but it offhandedly dismisses some of the story's most important plot points. And as much as I want to like the final issue, it's a telling statement that the comedy issue's best gag is merely a Star Wars homage. I don't want to over-praise the first issue of the Ghost Money comic series because the first issue is entirely just character and basic scenario introduction. But the writing is intelligent to the extent that it doesn't feel the need to bluntly spell out plot points which should be obvious from context. The art design is handsome and commendable for its very believable speculative futurism. Read the seventh issue of Savage Things. I'm a bit surprised by how subtly and casually it drops a major new story revelation. Heathen issues 2-5 remind me of another current female-created fantasy adventure comic series. Rather than say that Heathen doesn't have the epic, expansive world-building that Monstress does, it's more fair to say that Heathen as “typical” story scope while the depth and scope of Monstress is unusually exceptional. While the graphic art in Heathen is a little bit uneven, the writing has a lot of personality while the plotting demonstrates an effortless deliberation.

        The first Norman graphic novel by French comic artist Stan Silas reminds me of a cynical and aberrant contemporary sibling to Charles Schulz's Peanuts, particularly in the respect that the lead character is actually the least interesting and lesser developed character in the story. The cynical satirical humor is comparable to animated series including The Simpsons and Family Guy. It picks on predictable targets including the privileged sense of entitlement, alcoholism, and the wealthy versus the poor. Predictably, it also makes obvious horror icon references that it thankfully doesn't feel the need to explain. However, the titular Norman distinctly feels like a supporting character in the series named for him. Perhaps most frustrating, the story entirely lacks explication for Norman. Why is he psychotic? Was he abused? Was he taught to be a killer? Does he hate the world? Was he born mentally unbalanced? Furthermore, the book doesn't explain why he kills. Does he enjoy it? Is it a psychological compulsion? Does he do it to punish his victims? Furthermore, frustratingly, the story references plenty of interesting details about Norman's life, but the story doesn't both to explicate any of them. Norman volume 1 is certainly amusing, but it also feels as though it has weaknesses as prominent as its strengths.

        Read the concluding third volume of writer Scott Snyder's illustrated prose comic A.D. After Death. While not overt spoilers, I will broadly discuss the story's ending. The story revolves around a functionally immortal man who decides to escape from his mountaintop community and descend the mountain to find the surviving remnants of mortal mankind. He has a nebulous intention to somehow help mankind. Furthermore, the story never clarifies exactly what his motivations are, whether he's altruistic or trying to fulfill a personal dream or trying to prove something to someone. Since the story is written largely as a disjointed series of the protagonist's fractured and incomplete memories, the storyteller simply doesn't explain fundamentally important aspects of his story. Ultimately, volume 3 seems to reveal that the story's theme is the idea that life is what we make of it, and the protagonist of this story desperately wants to do something substantial with his extended lifetime because he believes that he's wasted his life doing nothing. The writing demonstrates research and deliberation, but ultimately the story feels tremendously unfulfilling because it revolves around grand literal & philosophical ideas yet ultimately has very little to say about any of these concepts. The story is arguably open to interpretation, but it's open to interpretation not because it has a lot of subtext but rather because it lacks explanation and development.

        I'm not sure that I like Defenders episode 6 because I'm not at all certain that any of it's multiple plot twists actually make sense.

        The final two episodes of Twin Peaks season 3 left me speechless, and sadly not entirely in a good way.

        Watched the Steelers beat the Browns, the Panthers beat the 49ers, and the Cowboys beat the Giants. On Monday night, watched the Vikings outplay the Saints, and the Broncos defeat the Chargers.

        Comment


          Sakura Quest episode 24 surprised me because after several episodes of preparation and build up, the show breezed over most of the festival in a montage scene.

          Back in '98 I really enjoyed Cardcaptor Sakura, but I only got around to watching up through the very first few episodes of the Sakura Card arc, so I've long felt some confusion over who the newer characters are. I was reminded that I'm not entirely familiar with the second story arc when I watched the new Clear Card Arc Prologue OAD. Although uneventful, it does feel like a necessary transition to introduce the next story arc. One point about the production that bothered me, though, is the fact that the animation for the OVA's first scene looks very strange to me. It has a weird, washed out color and a sort of parallax depth that make it resemble Flash animation.

          One can argue that Princess Principal episode 10 adheres to a predictable narrative structure, including even its episode-ending cliffhanger, but the execution still deserves praise.

          Watched Made in Abyss episode 11.

          Aho Girl episode 11 isn't quite as good as its predecessor, but its willingness to fully embrace absurdity still makes it one of the best episodes of the series. Episode 12 makes the same odd narrative choice as shows including Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon and Kiniro Mosaic to end on a depiction that feels like it should have been structurally placed much earlier in the storytelling. As a result, the final installment of the series feels a bit like a step backwards rather than a satisfying ending.

          Watched the doujin Tohou Gensou Mangekyou 2-4 OVAs.

          I respect and I'm fascinated by Re:Creators after having watched episodes 14-22. The series' first ten episodes are a breathtaking whirlwind only hampered by the fact that Souta is a bit of a drag. Unfortunately, the series' lengthy second act slows the pace nearly to a crawl, and the third act, both by necessity and design, aren't quite as thrilling as the earliest episodes. However, the very fact that the series is a meta illustration of the creative context of pop-culture entertainment makes it fascinating. Naturally a de facto crowd-created creation analogous to a real-world example like Hatsune Miku, will be more powerful, dynamic, and variable than anything composed and controlled by the limitations of a single artist. I respect the way the show acknowledges the theoretical goal of the artist's intent as well as the constant principle that the artist is his or her own worst critic. I'm thrilled by the way the show literally incorporates the concept of left-field characters & plot twists that threaten to break suspension of disbelief. But, in doing so, the show itself unavoidably threatens to break suspension of disbelief. This show fascinates me because it's yet another example, like Evangelion and Madoka Magica, of an anime that extends a figurative, philosophical, academic concept to its utmost projected end.

          Watched Ballroom e Youkoko episodes 6-8.

          Kakegurui episode 11 is interesting, but it strains to fill its running time.

          Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 107.

          Knight's & Magic episode 12 remains enjoyable, but knowing that it's the penultimate episode more strongly highlights how many concepts the show introduced then discarded.

          Watched New Game!! episode 11.

          Tsurezure Children episode 12 is a little bit disappointing because it's quite a bit more subdued than typical. It wraps up some lingering plot threads, but it feels a bit heavy handed about doing so.

          The theater at which I saw the theatrical screening of Lupin III: Cagliostro's Castle had roughly 20 people in attendance. I'm a bit disappointed that the film print wasn't especially sharp, and the frame rate on pan scenes was especially bad. I'm also particularly bothered that not only did the subtitle translation literally translate the name of Goeman's zantetsuken sword to “steel cleaver,” the translation isn't even precisely correct as it should be “iron cleaver” or “iron cutter,” rather than “steel.” However, seeing the film again was a treat since I haven't watched it in many years. And the lengthy (arguably over-long introduction) by John Lassiter and the epilogue commentary by creator Monkey Punch and animation director Yasuo Otsuka were a pleasant bonus. Seeing the film again reminded me of how much the film is praiseworthy for its restraint. So much of the film's action and characterization is front and center but never heavy-handed. For example, in every one of her scenes, the film allows viewers to recognize for themselves how experienced and capable Fujiko is. Zenigata's televised “discovery” of the counterfeiting operation is clearly staged, but the film allows viewers to recognize the fact. Lupin's effort to eat and heal himself, and even more so his literal pain when Clarisse presses herself against his injured torso yet Lupin quietly suffers rather than embarrass the girl are moments that the film allows viewers to comprehend and appreciate on their own. In effect, the movie has a charming intelligence. I'm also highly pleased that as I walked out of the theater, following behind two young men, I overheard one of them say to the other that he'd entered the film knowing nothing about it and departed surprised by how good the film is. On a side note, if we count theatrical “Ghibli films” from Castle Cagliostro through Omoide Marnie, I've now seen 13 out of the 22 films on the big screen, and seeing Nausicaa next Monday will make 14.

          Watched the Texans beat the Bengals. Watched the Bucs win their season opener against the Bears. Watched the Broncos handily beat the Cowboys. And watched the Falcons outplay the Packers. Also watched the Lions easily outplay the Giants.

          Comment


            After watching Sakura Quest episode 25 I'm conflicted over how to critique it. On one hand the show does a commendable job of illustrating the ups and downs of life, including situations that arise then evaporate just as quickly, and good intentions that just don't come to fruition. At the same time, as a work of fiction, the story simply feels unbalanced and incomplete because it introduces so many plot points and characters that ultimately just get abandoned. The series introduces the two woodworkers but never really does anything with them. The series devotes a lot of focus on the “dragon statue” storyline but ultimately does nothing with it. Professor Suzuhara appears then vanishes pretty abruptly. The repurposing of the school never gets substantially addressed. Kume offering to broadcast the Mizuchi festival ends up feeling like a plot point introduced to pad time rather than actually add anything of substance to the show. Manoyama possibly creating a sister city relationship is brought up, but the idea never gets developed. The show has a pleasant tone and good characterizations, but especially through its second half the story feels like it just drifted from whatever idea the staff thought of onto the next idea without any concern for developing or sustaining those random plot elements.

            Watched Princess Principle episode 11.

            I've long respected the way the Symphogear franchise respects its history by maintaining continuity to even minor plot points from multiple seasons past. And as much as the show constantly introduces new left-field plot developments, they always somehow seem to just barely seem logical and plausible. However, the antagonists of the AXZ season seem the weakest so far in terms of their logical motivation. The Pavarian Illuminati claim to want to eliminate class and status oppression within humanity, yet they don't seem to fight or oppose anyone or anything that actually propagates such oppression. Furthermore, they fail to recognize the very clear fact that they themselves are employing the same ruthless inhumanity and the exact same logical justifications as the “villains” they claim to oppose. Watched episodes 4-11.

            Wait a minute. In Made in Abyss episode 12, what happened to Reg's need to power down after using his incinerator?

            It's a bit of a sad truth that the final two episodes of Defenders reaffirm the traditional status of Defenders as the second-rate step-child in the shadow of the Avengers. The series' concluding two episodes are adequate but despite being heavily action-oriented still just don't feel very substantial or impactful. On a side note, I think it's ironic that within the MCU the Avengers seem to do a lot of “defending” while the Defenders seem to strictly “avenge.”

            The most concise and simple critique and summary explanation of Kingsman: The Golden Circle is that the film is an exact expansion of its trailers. Viewers completely satisfied by the film's trailers will be satisfied by the movie proper. Viewers that have higher expectations may be somewhat disappointed. Since the sequel is no longer an origin story, it's free to proceed at a brisk pace without the shifts in style that marked the first film: from domestic crime comedy to training film to spy action. However, despite a brisk pace, “The Golden Circle” does feel a bit bloated. Especially early in the film, edits and scene transitions are very nicely done, but the film arguably contains more scenes and more narrative explication than it actually needs. The film's tone also differs a bit from its predecessor. While the first film largely always felt self-serious and had a sense of gravity and consequence, the sequel feels more cartoonish. Its violence is still just as plentiful, but it's now a bit less graphic, and it feels a bit less brutal and less definitive. In fact, tonally and stylistically, Kingsman 2 is comparable to Kingsman 1 in exactly the same way that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 compares to its predecessor. In most ways it provides more yet feels like just a bit less.

            Watched the first half dozen episodes of Black Mirror. I'll certain credit the show for being intelligent and provocative, but I can't call it flawless by any stretch because nearly every episode contains numerous massive plot holes. The first episode fails to explain how an ordinary lone man was able to circumvent the princess' entire personal security detail. Furthermore, the episode fails to explain his intention. If he wanted personal revenge on the PM, the episode never explained why. If he wanted to embarrass, humiliate, or defame the PM, his “terrorist act” actually did exactly the opposite. Episodes 2 & 3 largely seem to work around the philosophy of characters too blinded to see the reality around them. The theme of episode 2 seems to be “nice guys finish last” while in episode 3 the protagonist is an insufferable lawyer who seems either ignorant of the law or impervious to the consequences of assault, DUI, and domestic battery, and who, again, insists on getting himself into the exact pitiful condition he seemingly wanted. Furthermore, the entire concept that the pinnacle of social interaction has become watching home movies seems actually rather dated & quaint instead of futuristic. And I don't understand how or why, if memories can be recorded and played back, why no one has hacked and modified that technology. Season 2 episode 1 again revolves around a character who willingly blinds herself to the truth then gets frustrated when she gets exactly what she wanted. The “White Bear” episode is so filled with logic holes that it requires a separate paragraph unto itself. And season 2 episode 3 revolves around a stunningly unprofessional professional who's too ignorant to realize that if he doesn't do his job, he's not going to keep his job for long. And the supporting characters are politicians who seemingly don't comprehend the most basic tenants of political publicity, among them, don't get into an argument that you know in advance you can't win, and don't lose sight of who your enemies are.

            The Rams win over the 49ers was a high-scoring, exciting game.

            Comment


              Watched Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart episodes 3-11. I really appreciate the way episodes 6 & 9 in particular take inventive approaches.

              On one hand, I appreciate that the Kakegurui television series made a decided effort to conclude with a relatively definitive ending. However, despite it being as well directed and edited as any episode of the show, the scripting still feels a bit rushed and artificial. It distinctly feels manipulated to conclusively wrap up quickly.

              Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 108.

              The Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon OVA is a substantially better series' conclusion than the broadcast final episode. Also watched the seventh Maru Maru Dragon omake short.

              Finished off Knight's & Magic episode 13. I'm a little bit underwhelmed by the final episode because it feels as if the show used up its momentum and best ideas and simply started to run out of steam by the final episode.

              Watched Symphogar AXZ episode 12.

              New Game!! episode 12 makes a bold narrative decision and results in a strong, satisfying final episode.

              Finished Princess Principal episode 12.

              Watched the two Overlord PPP "Hamsuke no Jikan!" & "Doppelganger no Jikan!" short films.

              I had a different reaction to Shinichiro Watanabe's Blade Runner: Blackout 2022 short film than I expected. Before watching it, I was fearful that the short would be too tonally and philosophically removed from the classic 1981 Blade Runner aesthetic. (I had no worries about the visual design being spot on.) After watching the short I was surprised that it actually felt too obviously and slavishly devoted to the original film. Beyond the continuity references and symbols that are obligatory for a sequel, the 2022 short deliberately includes some references that feel too heavy handed. I appreciate the opening shot mirroring the original movie, but mirroring to such an extent that even the foreground burst of flame is present feels like the short is remaking the original instead of telling a new story. The design and aesthetic of Gaff's viewing room feels less like continuity and more like a heavy-handed callback to the original film. The dialogue regarding the fish borrows multiple lines verbatim from the original film. That feels like it's overdoing it. The dove image can be defended, but it still feels excessive to me. In the original film, the dove was not a universal symbol; it very specifically related strictly to Roy Batty. If the dove is perceived as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, it represents Roy's transformation into a savior as well as the fact that only he, not Zohra, Leon, or Priss, managed to develop a “human” soul. If the dove represents the concept of freedom, again, Roy is the only escaped Replicant who manages to oppose his programmed nature. I can respect the anime short's association of Trixie with the doll symbolism that recalls Priss & J.F. Sebastian because the doll symbol isn't an exact replication, and Trixie does appear to have direct parallels to Priss. On a side note, now that I've watched all three “2049” prequel shorts, I still don't know when or why Earth evidently rescinded the law allowing Replicants on earth sometime after 2019. On the positive side, the anime short is gorgeous looking and nicely animated. I like the early shot of the protruding I-beam with round bolt heads, which subtly refers to the climax of the original movie. The animation detail of Trixie's hijack of the tanker truck is exceptional because it's deliberately considered, and it serves to predicate her acrobatics later in the short. I appreciate the design and function of Iggy's spinner. In 2019 only police officers had flying cars. Seemingly by 2022 they're in slightly wider use. I appreciate finally getting to literally see Replicants use off-world. I appreciate seeing Iggy use a pair of PKD's, but I'm glad to see a wider variety of handguns in the short. I appreciate the modified reference to the Yukon hotel (which also seems to get a partial unmodified reference two shots later); however, I think that seeing the neon dragon noodle bar was a bit over the top.

              Watched the second half of Isekai Shokudo in a single sitting.

              Attended the Monday evening Ghibli-fest screening of Nausicaa. Seeing the film yet again once again confirms in my mind that the movie is a masterpiece.

              In comic book stupidity, I read the first issue of The Realm (2017). As described elsewhere, it very distinctly looks and feels like The Walking Dead replacing zombies with Tolkien-esque monsters. Towards the end of the first issue a monstrous human monster hunter is introduced. A bayonet affixed to a shotgun is a fine idea. Throwing a shotgun with an affixed bayonet as though it’s spear is a reasonable last-ditch-effort tactic. But throwing a loaded shotgun like a spear is simply brain-dead idiotic. If the gun still has shells, just shoot the d*mn gun instead of throwing it.

              Watched the Black Mirror season 2 Christmas special. Both in effect and design, I usually don'’t foresee narrative surprises or twists early. I don’'t want to. I want the film to work its magic on me. But I did call, out loud, the major plot twist of this episode half-way through. It’'s also yet another narrative concept that doesn’'t entirely seem logical or plausible to me. The ability to “block” people’s' vision remotely seem far, far too dangerously vulnerable to ever be allowed to occur anywhere. Season 3 episode 1 is yet another episode that has to rely on an emotionally unstable protagonist in order to assist the tentatively believable scenario. This episode is so obviously a bad situation waiting to happen that the episode doesn'’t really become entertaining until about three-quarters of the way through when it tiptoes across the line from satire into absurdist comedy. Season 3 episode 2 likewise relies heavily upon vulnerable protagonist to meet the plot half way. This particular episode is also just a bit disappointing because it’'s a neat idea and interesting execution all built around supporting a single, simple punchline.

              Watched the Vikings easily outplay the Bucs. Watched the Packers come back to beat the Bengals in overtime, and the Redskins crush the Raiders. Caught the second half of the Cowboys victory over the Cardinals. Watched the Packers beat the Bears.

              Comment


                Action Heroine Cheer Fruits is a pleasant diversion, but I can't resist thinking that the screenplay began with a very clear and detailed plan for the first few episodes but then fell back on a rough outline with only a few key points fleshed out. Particularly beginning about half-way through the show, the deliberate pace of the earliest episodes and the emphasis on detailed nuances shifts to a nearly breakneck pace focused on student body president and acting circle manager Misaki, who was not one of the two primary characters that the series originally revolved around. Kamidaioh, which was a prominent character and plot point early in the series, gets relegated to a disposable cameo in the series' second half, a cameo only used to predicate an equally transitory plot development. While the early episodes focused so heavily on the behind-the-scenes efforts, in the show's second half the stage performance gains nationwide attention and bigger production values, yet the focus on the mechanics of the production practically disappear from the story altogether. In the earliest episodes, Misaki is depicted as a reliable and level-headed girl, yet in the second half of the series she's abruptly revealed to be nearly schizophrenic. The degree to which she can compartmentalize her private anxiety and her public responsibilities is admirable, but it's difficult to believe because the show gave no hint of the other side of her personality at all during the first quarter of the show, thus creating the impression that the expansion of her personality was a made-up afterthought bluntly jammed into the story. Unexpectedly, the final episode does pay off, but it doesn't make up for the flaws of the prior episodes.

                I'm undecided following the first episode of UQ Holder. The episode has an unexpected graphic & violent action scene climax which livens up an otherwise not very compelling premiere episode.

                Watched the first episode of Gintama: Porori Hen.

                Not to get too heavily into spoilers, the first episode of Juuni Taisen feels particularly reminiscent of a particular 2008 anime series. I can't name it because revealing the name practically reveals the spoiler. This series particularly feels like the sort of show that American fans used to love but don't get to see very often. I wonder how it'll go over now. On a side note, I'm slightly bothered by trends such as in this show and Strike Witches when characters, particularly female characters, seem to effortlessly carry heavy machine guns. By rough estimate, each of the machine guns that Toshiko Ino carries weigh nearly 25 pounds each, yet she's able to hold both of them under one arm as though they were weightless. But maybe they're magical machine guns because she appears to be able to pull off surprise tricks with them.

                Watched the first short episode of the stop-motion animated aiseki Mogol Girl. It seems to be another improvised dialogue comedy.

                Not to get into spoilers, the first web episode of Omiai Aite wa Oshiego, Tsuyoki na, Mondaiji is a gender-swap of a type of anime that was a bit common several years ago. The web version first episode is also basically just porn. It's graphic, and it has the barely passable art design and limited animation quality expected of low-budget hentai anime.

                The only thing I'll say about the first episode of Dia Horizon (Hi) is that it surprised me.

                Recycling concepts has long been a staple technique of anime development, but there's typically a bit more thought put into the effort than "let's mash ideas together and see what sticks." The first episode of Sengoku Night Blood may not be among the worst anime I've ever seen, but particularly coming immediately after the highly praised Katsugi Touken Ranbu, it's particularly sub-par. The show absolutely feels like an attempt to borrow and hybridize ideas and inspirations from shows including Hakuouki, Diabolik Lovers, and even Dog Days.

                Watched the broadcast & web versions of Imas Cinderella Girls Gekijou season 2 episode 1, which I guess can also be considered "episode 14."

                Perhaps because of the characterizations and character interactions, the first two episodes of Infini-T Force distinctly feel like an anime version of the live-action Avengers movies.

                Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara appears to be a very slightly more laid back sibling to Wakako-zake.

                Watched the Steelers defeat the Ravens, the Bucs narrowly beat the Giants, and the Seahawks dominate the Colts. Watched the Chiefs narrowly, er, not, beat the Redskins.

                Comment


                  Regrettably, the No Game No Life Zero prequel movie is crap. The movie is obviously a Kadokawa cash grab effort, and the production just screams “contractual obligation.” The 2014 television series was a colorful, fun adventure comedy founded on the concept of its protagonists outthinking and outwitting the antagonists. The movie, set 6,000 years earlier during the war between the gods, is an apocalyptic, morose film designed to wring emotional angst. Except the film's goals are so transparent and its development so flimsy that it entirely lacks impact and effectiveness for all but the absolute least demanding viewers. The movie revolves around young human Riku who meets and falls in love with robot girl Schwi. Riku is supposed to be emotionally tortured, so the film depicts him as guilt-striken with the responsibility of the deaths of many of his comrades. Except there's no clear reason why any of his comrades had to die. Riku ventures out on search missions for something the film never identifies. He has to go out on reconnaissance missions simply because there has to be some reason for him to leave his home. Schwi is literally an automaton throughout most of the film. By the time she develops a genuine personality with personal motivations, it's too late for viewers to care. Schwi is supposed to hide the fact that she's a robot, yet there's never any reason in the film for that plot emphasis at all. Riku spends time with Schwi, but the movie never clarifies a sense of time. It's completely unclear whether he spends days, weeks, months, or even years with her. Of course Riku marries Schwi just because that's what characters in stories like this do. The movie makes a deliberate effort to demonstrate that Riku and Schwi discover a doomsday weapon but can't decipher any of its data. Yet shortly later in the film, because the plot calls for it, Riku magically knows detailed, secret information about the weapon. Riku exhibits no responsibility within his village at all. Then he formally relinquishes his leadership role. But then in the very next scene he's suddenly acting as a leader just because the plot requires it to happen. Riku announces a series of rules that contradict each other, yet his followers accept the rules without question. Riku states that he wants nothing to do with the war, yet abruptly later in the film he decides that he's going to manipulate the entire war as a behind-the-scenes puppetmaster, again, strictly because the plot requires him to do so. The characters have no motivations. Everything they do, they do only because the script says so. Even the look of the film is drab, incorporating far more ugly CG backgrounds than the TV series used. The climax does include an elaborately animated, large-scale action sequence, but the sequence has no emotion behind no, no meaning to it. Even Sentai Filmwork's subtitle translation is annoying because it insists on acknowledging its dub by translating Izuna's polite sentence suffix “desu” as “Thanks” instead of just making her speak with polite rhetoric. On a side note, the theatrical screening was introduced by an English language/English dubbed presentation. The English dubbing of the TV series clips was absolutely excruciating to my ears. Hearing the show dubbed in English was so painful to me I very nearly walked out of the theater to wait until the subtitled film began.

                  Following only one viewing of Blade Runner 2049 I'm not yet certain whether the sequel equals the original in terms of subtextual themes and symbolism. I am satisfied and intrigued by the sequel's expansion of the first film's concept of hierarchal relationships. I'm even more pleased to see a continuation of the little recognized symbolism from the first film of associating each major replicant with an animal. Sapper is associated with grubs. Luv is tied to the fish. And there's at least two more examples, if not three, that I can't mention without revealing major spoilers. Not only does the sequel continue and expand upon the setting and themes of the original, it also add additional depth to the first film all while remaining respectful to the tone, style, and intelligence of the original film. 2049 doesn't always have quite the same sense of omnipresent dread and oppression that characterized the original film, but the sequel is a slightly different creature. While it does create tension and a sense of urgency, the sequel isn't based around the same ticking clock that the first film had from beginning to end. So the sequel is more expansive in scope, setting, and tone, which makes the film feel slightly different from its predecessor. While I'm hard pressed to identify any flaws in the Blade Runner Final Cut, I can immediately say of the sequel that Niander Wallace is unnecessarily one-note. The original film was fascinating because it didn't have any villains. It only had individuals whose desires and goals were in conflict. Wallace, in 2049, definitely suggests complexity, but too often he's portrayed as just one step shy of a mustache-twirling madman. The other prominent weakness in the sequel is its soundtrack. While the sound design itself is excellent, and the film takes care to both respect and homage the original score, the sequel's soundtrack falls far short of being the unforgettable masterpiece that the original Vangelis score was.

                  Comment


                    Typically I like shows in the vein of Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, but I'm a bit disappointed that this first episode looked and felt under-developed. I just didn't feel any spark of personality within the episode. Moreover, I'm bothered by the scenario. The episode suggests that the two girls escaped from the tail end of a war. Judging by their appearances, they've only been on their own for a couple of years at most. But the condition of the abandoned weapons & war vehicles suggests that they've been abandoned for 15, 20 or more years.

                    Typically I'm not enthused by boy idol group anime series, so I struggled to get through the first episode of Tsukipro because it's an all-around sub-par effort. Despite using plenty of color, the show still looks bland and washed out. All of the visual design is adequate but uninspired. The animation quality is below average, so character movements look stiff and robotic. And the story development in the first episode offers absolutely nothing unique, creative, or even interesting. The first episode isn't an abject disaster, but there's nothing praiseworthy about it.

                    I suppose that the title "Just Because" is fitting for its show because the show seems to exist "just because." It's a slice of life drama that has no iyashikei atmosphere. I suppose I can say that it has a point or purpose just because it does tell a linear story, but as far as I can see, the show only exists for viewers that want to relive their junior high school days.

                    Like the 2003 series, the Kino no Tabi revival continues to frustrate me. This new series isn't quite as attractive looking as the prior TV series, but the new show is passable in design. The bigger problem is that its story development has to me deliberately manipulative in order to work. For example, the resident of the first country Kino visits aren't actually good people. They're blood-thirsty hypocrites that deliberately lure in people of a certain type of personality then execute the new visitors before the new arrivals have even committed any serious crime.

                    Ballroom e Youkoso episode 9 is the best episode of the show so far. Also watched episode 10.

                    I'm on the fence over the first episode of Net-juu no Susume. It's evidently a more subdued sibling to Netoge no Yome. The animation quality is unremarkable, and the art design is simplistic. The show isn't much to look at, but it has a pleasant, simple sense of humor.

                    Watched the first episode of Taishou Mebius Line: Chicchai-san. A cute bishounen historical drama holds little interest for me.

                    Konohana Kitan appears to be exactly what it promises. It's a kemonomimi version of Hanasaku Iroha. It has a sweet-natured tone and a calm humor, making it pleasant to watch.

                    The first episode of Urahara looks and feels like exactly what it is. The show distinctly seems more like an experimental promotional anime than a conventional studio production. The show feels somewhat reminiscent of Di-Gi-Charat because in the same way Di-Gi-Charat was an advertisement for the Gamers store chain, Urahara is an advertisement for the Park store. Furthermore, like an anime deliberately trying to emphasize Japanese culture to global viewers, and a production co-created by an American who's fascinated with Japanese pop culture, the show is jam packed to bursting with references and concepts including Takeshita Dori, Harajuku fashion, Japanese street stall snacks, talking anime mascots, cats, magical girls, the Asakusa Kaminarimon, a variety of odd Japanese vocal dialects, and Yoyogi Park. The show also throws in visual references to shachihoko, oni, kemonomimi, and even Dragon Ball Z scouters for no other reason than because they're symbols of Japanese pop culture. And somehow it all barely manages to coalesce and work.

                    The Ousama Game anime is based on a cell phone novel which I'm prepared to bet was written by teenagers because the first episode of the anime strictly develops in blunt, simplistic turns lacking any degree of consideration or artistic nuance. The King's Game has been used as the basis for numerous previous Japanese horror movies. This latest iteration is entirely obsessed with laying the context for a grotesque Battle Royale/Drifting Classroom style parade of grotesque, sensationalist deaths and heavy-handed teen angst. I like horror, but I've largely outgrown this type of overly simplistic exercise in artless audience manipulation.

                    Watched the first episode of Ame-con, which is actually the first episode of Ameiro Cocoa season 4.

                    Watched the first episode of Marvel's Inhumans. Seemingly needless to say, it's garbage. The acting is a bit stiff because the script is so hamfisted. The sets are bland. The costumes look cheap. The CG is sub-par. And the story is filled with plot holes. The Inhumans refer to themselves as a master race, yet for unexplained reasons they can only live on a tiny patch of land and can't expand the size of their city. They're afraid of invasion by humans, so their only considered options are “do nothing,” or “wipe out the human race.” The idea of simply fortifying and defending themselves isn't even an option, especially when it seems the simplest and most obvious considering that human beings can barely walk on the moon, much less mount a military offensive on the moon. Contrary to seemingly every other living species in the universe that is an example of its species at birth, Inhumans aren't “really” inhuman until they're forcibly transformed during adolescence. For unexplained reasons, no one beside the Inhuman king's wife ever bothered to learn the sign language he uses to speak with, including even his own brother. For unexplained reasons, there seems to be only one existing Inhuman animal.

                    Black Mirror season 3 episode 3 again relies on dumb characters to propel its story. The episode wants viewers to sympathize with the characters, obviously because the episode is not a comedy or satire. But the characters are not respectable, moral people trapped in bad circumstances. They're immoral, selfish, reprehensible individuals who are frantic because they got caught and are irrationally desperate to cover up their wrongdoings. So they're not people who the viewer sympathizes with. They're characters that deserve the punishments they receive. They're simply not a lot of fun, satisfaction, or enjoyment to be found in seeing criminals receive fair punishment.

                    Comment


                      I assume that the first episode of Black Clover covers the first chapter of the manga because it's the same story as the earlier Jump Festa movie. The TV episode, compared to the movie, has slightly better animation quality and a better pace. But the pacing of the TV episode feels more natural because the TV episode covers less story development compared to the Jump Festa movie.

                      The first episode of Blend-S borrows liberally from a variety of shows, including Working, Mayoi Neko Overrun, Piace Watashi no Italian, Kimi ni Todoke, and Sansha Sanyou, yet it does manage to create its own, unique narrative and identity. It's just a show without much presence. On a side note, I'm very surprised that given how frequently anime likes to refer to "sekuhara" as a joke, this first episode is filled with sexual harassment yet never once calls it out. And on another side note, protagonist Maika is truly ignorant of the larger realities of the world if she thinks that she's going to save enough money by working as a waitress to be able to pay for overseas college tuition.

                      The first episode of Hozuki no Reitetsu second season reminds viewers that this show is "Best Anime Ever" material. The episode-ending gag with the cursed cats was hilarious, and even though they get minimal screen time, the zashiki warashi are still one of the best aspects of the show.

                      I won't say that Code:Realize is terrible, but it is clearly the sort of anime that was created by a committee to be a commercial product rather than created as the artistic vision of a singular creator. Its origins as an otome game are very obvious. The show is actually a reverse-harem anime like Yamato Nadesico Shichihenge in which flamboyant young men surround a girl with a defeatist attitude. But since the basic reverse harem scenario has already been done in Yamato Nadesico Shichihenge, Code Realize has to punch up the scenario with a gothic setting and a famous cast of period celebrities. Aesthetically it seems to want to be a gothic melodrama comparable to Kuroshitsuji, except its male characters are all smugly self-assured types who are anachronistic to the setting and typical of standard bishounen anime.

                      I'm not sure that I like Drossel's new design in Fireball Humorous, but I appreciate the new emphasis on greater animation, and the first episode is very funny.

                      I have an indefinite opinion about the first episode of alternate, unfamiliar world fantasy series Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau. It feels reminiscent of Suisei no Gargantia, and to a lesser degree Overman King Gainer, because it revolves around a small society living on a large transport moving across a wide sea. But “Children of the Whales” isn't as immediately exciting or fun as Gargantia. It's a bit mopey, and the protagonist comes across as just a bit dim-witted. However, on the positive side, the first episode doesn't feel quite as heavy-handed and pretentious as Shin Sekai Yori.

                      Seemingly Two Car may be best described as a motorsports anime because it's ostensibly a show revolving around sidecar motorcycle racing, but its priority is heavily on characterization and character relationships with rather little detail devoted to the technical aspects of the racing. So the series feels stylistically closer to typical sports anime than typical racing anime.

                      The number of musical group anime this season is rather staggering: Tsukipro, Dynamic Chord, Love Live Sunshine second season, Idolmaster side M, Wake Up Girls Shinsou, plus the music-oriented Classicaloid season 2. Thanks to some abstract music video style editing, the first episode of Dynamic Chord doesn't feel quite as mundane as Tsukipro. However, especially from a professional Studio Pierrot production, the animation quality in Dynamic Chord is frequently abysmal. On a side note, I have to give the show some odd credit for including a lengthy musical montage scene. I thought anime had stopped making scenes like that in the early 90s.

                      I mildly like the first episode of Animegataris but think it could have been better. I appreciate the homages to the Macross movie and Flanders no Inu, in particular, but I think that if the show was going to indulge in homages and references it could have included more. Furthermore, as much as I recognize that Minoa is trying to be considerate and supportive, she still comes across as a bit condescending.

                      I'm a bit conflicted over the first episode of Osomatsu-san second series. It's creative and certainly satirical, but it also feels as if it's struggling to stretch and sustain a thin joke.

                      Onyankopon. Funny because it's true. It's Japanese. It doesn't matter how weird it is so long as it's cute.

                      Now I'm certain that I was initially mistaken. Last July I thought that the domestic one-night screening of Mahoutsukai no Yome was the third TV special. It was actually the first three TV episodes without their broadcast opening & ending sequences.

                      Watched the second episode of Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara.

                      The first episode of Garo: Vanishing Line is a weird amalgamation of characteristics. It's directed by a Korean animator, Seong Ho Park, who has plenty of experience working on Japanese anime series including prior installments of the Garo anime franchise. But this series appears to be his debut as a series chief director. Tonally and stylistically the direction feels typical of Japanese animation. What's distinctly unusual about it is its wildly excessive combination of animation with camera movement. The show is animated well. Then it uses extensive camera movement to further enhance the sense of kinetic motion. But the result ends up looking and feeling like an animated Michael Bay film. Much of the action is nearly incomprehensible because it's all tight shots, edits, and blurs of motion. While the literal animation is commendable, the surrounding production is less so. The setting appears to be a version of New York City that's impressive if only for its wild inaccuracy. This rendition of NYC appears to consist of boroughs including a Times Square with Japanese sensibilities, Italy, medieval England, and a post-apocalyptic Bronx. The series protagonist Sword seems to be rather terrible at his job. He claims to be a “protector,” yet he not only allows his monster prey to escape him twice, he allows the monster to slaughter numerous innocents because, for unexplained reasons, he refuses to exploit his full power until the obligatory climax. He deliberately lures the monster to a deserted location, then instead of defeating the monster there, he lets it escape and slaughter more people. Then he destroys it in a public area resulting in massive collateral damage. Furthermore, I don't understand at all why the police escort Sophie out of the police station then proceed to interrogate her out on the sidewalk. The first episode is visually impressive, but it drastically lacks substance. The episode has the visual design of horror but absolutely no feeling of horror. The protagonist is big and macho. He rides a big chopper. He eats big, raw steak. And that appears to be the full extent of his personality: big and dumb. Actually, this show really is exactly like a hypothetical Michael Bay directed anime.

                      I'm aware that Japan has a more ambivalent view of Nazis than Western culture does, so Dies irae may play differently to Japanese viewers than to foreigners. As an American, I find a show about Nazis versus monsters a bit difficult to approach because I don't see a “good guy” side. Furthermore, the “zero” episode is a bit difficult to pin down because it introduces a staggering number of characters who all feel like supporting characters. Ultimately, the aim of the show seems to be cloning Hellsing's Nazi story arc from the villains' perspective, except there's no antagonist, no hero character to oppose the villains. So I don't comprehend much point to this show. At least the grand guignol violent chaos could be sensational, except that sadly the show's animation quality is passable only when it's not required to do much. The animation quality is at its worst during the demanding action scenes.

                      The soccer match chapter of Umaru-chan R episode 1 was really funny. And I hope the show does more with the new characters it introduced in that segment.

                      Although I can't easily identify any great weakness in the first episode of Wake Up Girls! Shinsou, it's still not interesting to me. The art design is fine, although occasionally character models look slightly disproportionate or odd. The animation quality is fine. The girls have a commendable variety of personalities. But the show is still a drama about a girl idol group struggling to earn audience popularity. The fundamental narrative concept of the show just doesn't interest me.

                      Watched the Packers pull out a pretty amazing last second win over the Cowboys, and the Chiefs beat the Texans. It was a pretty wild game, though, considering that the losing team still threw five touchdowns. Watched the Vikings beat the Bears.

                      Comment


                        The first episode of Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd season functions as a good sibling to Wake Up Girls! Shinsou because both shows have a similar concept but different approaches. Love Live also has good color design and animation quality, but it has a more conventional direction, using fewer unusual camera shots. Furthermore, it emphasizes its characterizations nearly to a point of wacky absurdity.

                        The first episode of Kekkai Sensen & Beyond comfortably picks up right where the prior season left off.

                        Shokugeki no Soma: San no Sara comes across as a confident, very capable shounen cooking anime. But it also feels very conventional and "safe."

                        I have to admit that the first episode of Love Kome second season is funny becaue it's so ridiculous and satirical. The episode partially works in spite of its poor animation quality, budget background art, and frequently off model character designs. Seeing as it's a short, silly show not meant to be taken seriously or have any lasting impact, I suppose it's okay that it's so low budget.

                        The various Time Bokan series have never put much stock into coherence or plausibility, but the first episode of Time Bokan 24: Gyakushuu no San-Okunin seems to take its randomness to an even greater degree. Furthermore, the various Time Bokan series have frequently dealt with various historical periods and figures, but they've never felt as consciously educational-oriented as this current series does.

                        I'm not a big fan of Gantz because I think it's mostly crap. The story is needlessly drawn out with lots of time devoted to nothing happening. The series wants to be recognized for its excessive gory violence, but typically the violence takes so long to occur and is frequently presented as much as accident as ass-kicking that it lacks significant meaning. So I'd hoped that Gantz creator Hiroya Oku's Inuyashiki would have a stronger story since it's a different type of story. It's not a sci-fi mystery, so it doesn't have to artificially hide its story revelations. But to my disappointment, the first episode of the Inuyashiki anime still suffers from similar narrative flaws that plague Gantz. Setting aside the mysterious reason why a 58-year-old man looks like a 78 year-old man, especially in Japan, a country typified by people who genetically look younger than they typically are, I absolutely cannot believe that Ichiro met and married a woman and fathered two children earlier in his life. Furthermore, more events occur seemingly just because they have to. There's no explanation for why a teen boy would suddenly stand nearby an elderly man at night in a deserted public park. There's no explanation for why the visitors feel the need to be considerate of an alien race, especially if they're a military race that only has weapons onboard. Inuyashiki's cyborg body doesn't seem like much of a weapon if it has a gun that shoots regurgitated food and lasers that don't hit any of their targets. And Ichiro would at least seem admirable and sympathetic if he deliberately stepped up to defend a victim in distress, but the show creates ambiguity about the rescue, possibly suggesting that Ichiro wasn't even fully conscious of what he was doing. He's really not much of a hero if his heroism was purely accidental.

                        On one hand, the first episode of Idolmaster Side M has a pleasant cheerful and optimistic tone. On the other hand, it's merely a gender-swap of Imas. I'm a bit shocked to see how eagerly a management company recruits potential idol singers without even bothering to ask whether the candidates can sing. And on a personal note, perhaps it's sexist, but I still have to admit that it's a bit weird to hear a 28-year-old male character idolize “Producer” in the same tone that typically teenage girls do in the “proper” Imas franchise.

                        Watched Dragon Ball Super episodes 109 & 110. To an extent, I'm self-satisfied to see that episode 110 did use a plot development I predicted to myself a half-dozen episodes ago. Otherwise, episode 110 in particular is definitely one of the memorable highlight episodes of the entire Dragonball series.

                        I suppose viewers who thought that Eromanga-sensei was too restrained or too grounded may find something to appreciate in Imouto sae Ireba Ii. I thought the first episode was an embarrassing, confused mess. The opening scene may be the most fetishist disturbing sequence I've seen since 1+1=Paradise. Even as satire, it still just feels grossly depraved. Then the rest of the episode doesn't hold together much better. A gathering of light novelists is one thing. The introduction of the “lateral thinking” games is literally the basis for an entire separate show, as the similar Q&A werewolf game has already been adapted into a live-action feature film. Then, as if the show is literally just a collection of whatever passing interests that creator happened to have at the time, the show even focuses on regional Japanese beer, while giving passing nods to both galge and contemporary board games.

                        Watched the first episode of Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou, which is the TV broadcast of the Washio Sumi movie trilogy.

                        Watched the second episode of Net-juu no Susume.

                        Sadly, I had a good idea of what to expect from Evil or Live as soon as the Haloliners production banner appeared on screen. This Chinese co-production basically looks like anime, and loosely it has the same sort of nihilistic confined victimization concept as anime series including Deadman Wonderland, Btoom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e, and Haloliners' own Bloodivores. But something about the show's composition and pacing just feels “off” and different from conventional Japanese anime. Furthermore, predictably, the art design is barely passable and the animation quality under par. The first episode's story development is also seriously flawed. Flashbacks reveal that the protagonist is an irresponsible ingrate. All of the show's surrounding cast is equally morally bankrupt. So there's no one to root for or even like within the show. None of the boys seem intelligent enough to recognize, much less vocalize, the fact that the educational internment camp's staff are at least as ethically corrupt as the detainees, if not much more so. And the staff is evidently terrible at its job because the show depicts the guard to student ratio as one-to-one, yet the staff doesn't immediately notice when a student goes missing.

                        Cardfight Vanguard appears to deserve some praise because the series has very nearly transcended its nature. Since all of the Cardfight Vanguard series are a single continuity, by this season's “Cardfight Vanguard G Z” series there are at least three generations of characters and all of their accompanying supporting characters and relationships, so the current series is a bit confusing for fresh viewers. But more importantly, since the series now has so much back story it's transformed into a complicated shounen thriller in which the titular card game is now just a supporting element rather than the show's piece de resistance.

                        Konoha Kitan episode 2 is a very sweet episode. I'm also pleased to see it move on with it storytelling rather than immediately pick up following episode 2 and harp on the same story beats.

                        Went out to see The Foreigner. The movie is definitely a thriller with a few sporadic action scenes. In fact, this is one of those films for which every significant action scene in the film is represented in the various trailers. The film is a bit long and a bit slow. It also contains a lot of characters, relationships, and motivations, so it requires viewers to pay attention although, in summation, the plot isn't exactly wildly complex. It just has a lot of moving parts. Jackie Chan is reliable, but his character is written with only shades of one emotion. His character begins the movie in a melancholy fury. After the opening credits, he shifts into a deeper, more vehement melancholy fury. Pierce Brosnan is surprising because he unexpectedly virtually steals the film with a very believable, very nuanced and complex portrayal of a very conflicted and multi-faceted character. The film is solid although unremarkable.

                        Honestly, I only half paid attention to the Eagles/Panthers game.

                        Comment


                          Watched the first episode of Pingu in the City.

                          Watched a recording of the live broadcast Choukan x Algorhythm web anime special. Since the production was a Japanese/Chinese co-production, I appreciate the fact that one of the stars was a Chinese voice actress who spoke in Chinese. Especially since the middle third of the episode was originally live-streamed, I can easily imagine that it would have been much more interesting to watch in real time.

                          The first episode of Monster Strike season 3 is a bit surprising dark, apocalyptic, and unexpectedly violent for ostensibly a kids' show.

                          Houseki no Kuni feels like it's been years in coming because it has been years in arriving. But the wait absolutely seems to have been worth it. In a season of new anime that may be the weakest in years, the first two episodes of Houseki no Kuni are a shining highlight. Conceptually the show is unique and therefore unpredictable. It also has a satisfying range of characterizations and a wonderful mix of compelling drama based on characterization and stylish, fluidly rendered action.

                          Last year I had anxious anticipation for Classicaloid. The idea of a vocaloid anime incorporating classical choreographers seemed to have potential. Then I watched the series' first episode and immediately disliked it. The first episode of Classicaloid season 2 demonstrates that the show has gotten even worse. The show stars the reincarnations of some of history's most revered musicians, men who have created timelessly elegant, literally classical works of musical art. Yet literally 23 seconds into the first episode of season 2, viewers are treated to the first of the episode's two fart-in-Beethoven's-face-jokes. There's absolutely nothing I like about this anime. The characters are often disproportionate. Their facial expressions don't always match their emotions or dialogue. The animation is passable at best. The characterizations are strictly superficial and self-absorbed, shallow, and bratty. The humor is lowbrow and lacking any charm or wit. When the characteristics of this show appear in a kids' shounen adventure comedy anime like Heybot, I accept them. When they're applied to a show about historical artists targeted at young adult viewers I find the entire mess disrespectful, tasteless, and most of all embarrassingly juvenile.

                          I'm not instinctively disposed against anime sex comedies. On average, I probably like about half of them. I've particularly enjoyed Golden Boy, Konai Shasei, B-gata H-kei, Seitokai Yakuindomo. Unfortunately, the first episode of Boku no Kanojo ga Majimesugiru Shobitch na Ken feels like a romantic sex comedy written by someone that had little idea how comedy works. The show isn't a story; it's a scenario. A high school boy has a crush on a classmate because he envisions her as a dignified, studious, refined young lady. After she agrees to date him, he discovers that she's obsessed with becoming the ideal girlfriend, which she believes means satisfying her new boyfriend's every sexual whimsy. And that's literally as deep as the show gets. The protagonist, Haruka, is a romantic comedy staple character in the vein of Tenchi Masaki. He's completely milquetoast. I actually can't tell whether his co-star Kosaka is stupid or intelligent. She's considerate, practically to a fault. And the only thing she seems to think about is sex, although she doesn't seem to fully understand exactly what sex is or entails. Evidently she has no friends, no hobbies, no siblings, no parental guidance. She simply doesn't come across as a human being; she's a robot programmed with just one command: satisfy her master, which she defines as responding to teacher's orders and attempting to convince her boyfriend that she's the ideal girlfriend. She's an amusing minor supporting character in a better show, but series including this and this season's Imouto sae Ireba Ii both use these kind of single-minded characters as co-stars.

                          After watching the first episode of Glamorous Heroes I realize that I'm stunned that it's taken so long to get an anime series that revolves around a team of professional MMO players. Anime including Running Boy and Game Center Arashi have starred kids playing video games. Shows such as Sword Art Online and Log Horizon have revolved around amateur players getting literally sucked into MMO games. And shows including Gamers, Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta, and Netjuu no Susume have revolved around amateurs playing video games. And even in shows including SeHaga Gakuen and Neptunia the protagonists were video games themselves. But Glamorous Heroes is, I think, the first anime that takes the organized stadium competitive play of hobby anime like Lets & Go, Plawres Sanshiro, and Gundam Build Fighters or alternately the championship matches of most card battle anime and transforms the participants into video gamers instead of hobbyists or card game players. In terms of technical competence, the show is a little weak, noticeably relying on recycled frames of animation, but it's still not the weakest show of the season.

                          The first episode of Oretacha Youkai Ningen is studio DLE’s take on Youkai Ningen Bem. For knowledgeable otaku, that description should be adequate to explain everything that needs to be said about the show.

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                            Dragon Ball Super episode 111 flies by rapidly.

                            Watched Hozuki no Reitetsu 2 episode 2.

                            I really want to like Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, but so much of the show just doesn't make any sense. I realize that the two girls are still very young and therefore perhaps not acutely intelligent, but they seemingly don't learn from experience. Why do they travel with so few supplies? Why do they deliberately travel into empty territory with no available shelter when they don't even carry a tent in their gear? If they know the weather is cold and snowing, why don't they look for warmer clothing? They do seem to understand what buildings and supplies are, yet somehow they don't seem to comprehend the likelihood that abandoned cities will have plenty of supplies available for them to scavenge. If they need a supply of water, I don't understand why they fill only one relatively small travel container instead of stocking up a supply that will last more than a day or two, and I also don't understand why they need to wade out into the middle of a lake just to get water. Also watched episode 3.

                            I'm conflicted over Himouto Umaru-chan R episode 2 because the "visit to Sylphin's house" and movie theater skits both feel incomplete. Thankfully, episode 3 felt normal once again.

                            Watched Animegataris episode 2.

                            The Natsume Yuujinchou Roku OVA is the first really affecting episode of the show that we've seen in a while.

                            I was a bit fearful over the way Juuni Taisen episode 2 was going to develop. Sadly, my suspicions proved true.

                            Watched Blend-S episodes 2-4. I certainly didn't expect to see a Calimero reference in episode 3.

                            Watched the final episode of Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart.

                            UQ Holder episodes 2 & 3 are passable but unexceptional.

                            Precure a la Mode 31 is a highly emotional episode. Episode 32 introduces the team's new attack, which is more like a carnival ride than an attack. Also watched episode 33.

                            Finished off Symphogear AXZ episode 13.

                            Watched Konohana Kitan episodes 3 & 4. Episode 4 in particular feels as though a considerable amount of its story is missing.

                            Watched the third and fourth episodes of Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara.

                            Robomasters is more accurately a Japanese commission than a Chinese/Japanese co-production since all of the creative principals were Japanese and the animation was primarily done in Japan by Gonzo. But the show does still have a unique look and feel. The Chinese setting distinctly looks a bit different from usual anime settings. Furthermore, many of the character’s faces are more stern with more angular eyebrows. The characters are all Chinese, and many of the male characters seem just a bit more intense than typical Japanese characters. They’'re just a bit more expressive with their contempt, anger, obsession, and personal attitudes. The difference is rather subtle, and I suspect that viewers that don'’t watch a lot of anime probably wouldn'’t even notice.

                            Watched Urahara episode 2.

                            Kekkai Sensen & Beyond episode 3 is a smaller scope, more intimate episode that's still very enjoyable.

                            On one hand, I like Net-juu no Susume. On the other hand, episode 3 is starting to make me wish that the story would progress a bit more significantly.

                            Watched Ponyo again, dubbed this time, as the staff advisor during my school's anime club screening. I still think the story is a bit abstract. Certain details which would benefit from more explanation lack clarification. I also think the English dub makes numerous small concessions to attempt to help clarify the story. But the film is visually masterful and beautifully animated.

                            Watched the Blade Runner final cut again, this time with a friend who had never watched it before.

                            Watched the Steelers beat the Chiefs and the Giants beat the Broncos. Watched the Titans roll over the Colts. And watched the Raiders pull out a zero seconds left victory over the Chiefs. Watched the Steelers manhandle the Bengals and the Patriots roll the Falcons. Watched the Eagles beat the Redskins. And watched the Ravens humiliate the Dolphins.

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                              In Net-juu no Susume episode 4 I'm glad to see that Sakurai is starting to figure out the situation.

                              Dragon Ball Super episode 112 is a pretty interesting one. Episode 113 feels completely like vintage Majin Buu era Dragon Ball Z.

                              The B part of Hozuki no Reitetsu 2 episode 3 definitely confirms that the zashiki warashi are the best part of the show. The homages including Cat's Eye and ***** are hilarious. And I'm grateful to see the episode even address and explain why the girls are more talkative now. Also watched episode 4.

                              Watched Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 4.

                              Went out to see the Ghiblifest screening of Sen to Chihiro. Seeing the film again reminded me of the critiques I've always had of the film. On the positive side, the film is gorgeous looking, tremendously visually, and very nicely animated. But its numerous weaknesses prevent it from matching up to many of Miyazaki's earlier films. The movie is so much Chihiro's story that it doesn't so much have supporting characters as simply plot devices to advance her characterization. The Kaonashi is the spirit of avarice, so I understand why it's attracted to the bath house. But its primary function in the film is to give Chihiro another chance to finish what she's started and illustrate the thematic point that excess greed is foolish. Likewise, the mid-film introduction of Zeniba feels left-field, and her entire function in the film is again just to five Chihiro a goal and opportunity to be responsible and repay a debt. The film never bothers to explain the significance of the hanko the Haku steals from Zeniba. It's just a device that gives Chihiro another reason to make a concerted effort outside of herself. I've also never understood the climax. I've watched the movie three or four times, and I still don't know how or why Chihiro is able to tell that Yubaba is playing a trick on her. And furthermore, the beginning of the film up until the scene in which Haku orders Chihiro to find Kamiji feels rushed, as if the movie is in too much of a hurry to get to the meat of its story. But certain aspects of the film, including Chihiro climbing down the outdoor stairs, her encounter with the giant radish youkai, and the lengthy scene surrounding the "stink spirit" are excellent sequences and among Miyazaki's best scenes.

                              Watched Himouto Umaru-chan R episode 4.

                              Watched Precure A'la Mode episodes 34-35.

                              Watched Konohana Kitan episode 5.

                              Watched Animegataris episodes 3 & 4. Particularly in episode 4 I was surprised to learn that apparently Japanese otaku refer to media discs as "enban" similar to the way Americans refer to records as "platters." I also became conscious of the fact that the show has completely abandoned the first episode characterization of Arisu as a superior, untouchable queen.

                              Read a few comics. Steve Skroce's Maestros feels to me a bit like a hybrid of Bill Willingham's Elementals and Miller & Darrow's Hard Boiled. The fantasy is elaborate and weird but also grounded and a bit cynical. Moreover, the comic is unexpectedly graphic and grotesque. The first three (digital) issues of Evolution read and feel more like a speculative novel than a conventional comic. The series does a good job of depicting detail and allowing the reader to observe and interpret it rather than bluntly over-explain. However, while the telling is admirable, the story itself feels overly familiar. Mage: The Hero Denied issues 2 & 3 are good but feel as if they're developing their story even more slowly than the prior series did. I'm conflicted over the first issue of Infernoct. It certainly has a Lovecraftian feel without feeling redundant. But the pacing of the first issue feels just a bit off. The issue wants to develop slowly, gradually building atmosphere. But at the same time it rushes in order to make sure that it delivers a gratifying setting within its initial issue's pre-determined page count. The artwork also feels compromised. While the graphic art is suitably dark and creepy, it also frequently makes the protagonist look like she's wearing badly smeared makeup, which makes no sense and is simply distracting. Perhaps I've just gone too long in-between reading issues, but Paper Girls issue 16 feels like a jarring shift in the linear storytelling. Read Head Lopper issue 7. Read Motor Girl issue 9. Unfortunately, writer Justin Jordan's The Family Trade issue 1 isn't very good. Too much of the first issue is blunt, uncreative exposition. The story reveals itself as very thinly veiled contemporary political observation - not satire or criticism - just parallel without any creative interpretation. And the graphic art, which may be very fitting in certain contexts, does few favors for an adventure comic book story. Redlands issues 2 & 3 continue to rather confuse me because I still can't tell whether the series is about characters or the setting since the series continues to kill off characters as quickly as it introduces them. Read Black Hammer issue 13.

                              I'm glad to see that the first four episodes of Stranger Things 2 feels like a very natural and fluid continuation of the first series' storyline.

                              Watched the Panthers beat the Bucs, the Cowboys beat the Redskins, and the Steelers defeat the Lions. Watched the Jets beat the Bills.

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