No announcement yet.

John's Viewing Journal

This topic is closed.
This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    To be generous, the first episode of Beatless isn't especially bad, but it doesn't provide much substance or reason for viewers to want to continue watching. The first episode seems to draw inspiration from numerous prior anime including Gokukoku no Brynhildr, Eve no Jikan, and Steel Angel Kurumi. It's also a bit confusing becasue the five escaped HIe robots initially appear to collaborate but subsequently appear to not be partners.

    Carnival Phantasm Selection is just more Carnival Phantasm parody of the Type-Moon universe.

    The Marronni Yell special is pretty typical of tourism promotion anime.

    I expected gdgd Men's Party to be a version of gdgd Fairies with male characters, but for the most part, it's not. The final minute of the first episode is impromptu dialogue comedy, but most of the episode is a scripted parody that seems like a version of Dia Horizon (Hi) rendered with crappy CG.

    The first episode of Nanatsu no Taizai: Imashime no Fukkatsu picks up where the OVA series left off, maintaining the same production and narrative quality.

    Takeshi Ando has worked on some high profile anime before, including FLCL, Mahoromatic, and Evangelion, but Gin no Guardian II appears to be his first work as a series director. Regrettably, he seems to be quite bad at his job. The first episode of Gin no Guardian II receives no favors from its screenplay. But the screenplay at least appears to be familiar with the common tropes of shounen adventure anime. The bigger problem than the weak script and bland animation is the fact that the action-oriented episode has absolutely no sense of tension or weight whatsoever. The episode evokes absolutely no audience investment at all. The directing is bland to the extent that a mostly fighting episode feels completely boring.

    After watching the second episode of Toji no Miko, I'm not quite prepared to say that the core conflict doesn't make much sense, but I'm tempted to do so.

    The second episode of Ito Junji Collection again regrettably suggests that the show is selecting some of Ito's weaker stories to adapt.

    Watched the second episode of Kokkoku. Once again, similar to Gantz, much of the story development hinges on characters being dumb.

    Mitsuboshi Colors episode 2 still strikes me more than anything else as an unofficial Ichigo Marshmallow sequel.

    Watched Pop Team Epic 2.

    Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 14 distinctly illustrates the way this show is so tremendously uneven. While its tone is always consistent, its storytelling isn't. It can never seem to find and sustain any rhythm, so events which seem monumentous breeze by without significance and cliffhangers consistently amount to nothing.

    Ryuo no Oshigoto episode 2 is entertaining, but it also breezes past some stupidity. Point one. How on earth did Yaichi manage to become a top tier professional if his priority wasn't on winning matches? Second point. A mother has a right to make whatever arbitrary rules regarding her child that she wants, but parental right doesn't give one the right to just ignore realistic circumstances. The possibility that your daughter could eventually become as skilled as a professional doesn't mean that she's as skilled as a professional right now.

    Watched CCS Clear Card episode 2.

    Watched Kaiju Girls 2 episode 2.


      Watched Overlord II episode 2.

      To its credit, the production values on Hitori no Shita II have drastically improved over season 1, although season 1 was rather abysmal. The first episode of season 2 also feels as though its story has drastically changed from what the series began as. But season 2 launches with a large cast and no concession at all to viewers who haven't watched the prior episodes, making the new season quite incomprehensible for new viewers.

      Just from episode one to episode three it's almost staggering how playful YoriMoi has gotten. But episode 3 also doesn't forget the personality that made it interesting in the first place.

      I'm very disappointed to find that the first Godzilla: Kaijuu Wakusei movie may be the dumbest sci-fi movie script since Prometheus. The protagonist, Sakaki, is so self-centered on his own martyr complex that he literally can't comprehend alternate philosophies even when they're bluntly and simply explained to him. Furthermore, even after Sakaki has demonstrated that he's suicidal, no one questions the wisdom of putting him in charge of everyone's lives until too late. But that's possibly because the human landing party is definitely the dumbest since Prometheus' because they land with only the barest minimum of advance reconnaissance, and they don't put up any functioning defensive perimeter. The film also ignores its own rules on multiple occasions. The film states that Godzilla deliberately tracks humans. Except when the humans want Godzilla to follow them, it doesn't. The Exif aliens evidently had prior experience with Godzilla-style events and didn't seem to treat that knowledge as a secret. Yet they also didn't bother to mention that fact to any humans for over twenty years in contradiction to their society's core principle of warning other cultures. Furthermore, the movie refers to the Bilusaludo aliens coming to earth claiming to have the ability to destroy Godzilla. Yet for unexplained reasons, the Bilusaludo not only don't defeat Godzilla, they just vanish from the story entirely, with no explanation why. I presume that the film's ending is supposed to be awesome, as in literally inspiring awe, but sadly it only felt tiresome and stupid. Not only is the ending ridiculous, it largely plays out like watching a foolish child repeating the same mistake over and over again without learning. Sakaki, who is supposed to be a leader, is literally so self-absorbed that he can't even quickly and efficiently think about other people beyond himself. On a different approach, the film's CG visual design is simply ugly. The relatively simple and flat CG art design sort of works in highly stylized scenarios like Knights of Sidonia and Blame, but in the deliberately more grounded setting of Godzilla, it just looks ill defined and unfinished.

      Watched the second episode of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni.

      Practically all of Ghibli's best films- Castle Cagliostro, Nausicaa, Laputa, Kiki, Hotaru no Haka, Mononoke, Sen to Chihiro – contain an element of danger. They're narratives that dare to get a bit violent and frightening. Studio Ponoc's first film, Mary to Majo no Hana, feels tonally more comparable to films like Ponyo and Arrietty, and a bit like Nene to Yoyo, in the regard that it's careful to never allow the shadow of desperation to creep in. It remains a bright and hopeful film even in its darkest moments, which prevents it from having quite the degree of emotional resonance that Ghibli's best films have. Furthermore, Mary to Majo no Hana doesn't exactly feel like a Ghibli film because typically Ghibli films, including even ones not directed by Takahata or Miyazaki senior, always include distinct moments of exceptional character. Typically Ghibli movies always include at least one shot, or sometimes a scene, that surprises viewers with unexpected personality and distinction. Mary to Majo no Hana doesn't include a scene like that, although the opening action sequence is the best of the film. In effect, Mary to Majo no Hana is “Ghibli-esque,” but any viewer that pays close attention will distinctly sense that it's not a literal Ghibli movie. However, by very small margin it may be Hiromasa Yonebayashi's best film yet, after Arrietty & Marnie. The film isn't quite flawless because it deliberately refrains from being as emotionally charged as it could be. Furthermore, the narrative's up and downs may take just one too many alternations to fully retain viewers' complete immersion in the story. But the film deserves credit for lush art design, excellent animation quality, and a commendable job devoting time to fleshing out character personalities. I can also envision the film splitting fan reaction due to its many seemingly deliberate subtle nods to past Ghibli films. Viewers familiar with the Ghibli catalog will easily spot shots and scenes distinctly reminiscent of Laputa, Kiki, Mononoke, and Howl, at least. Mary to Majo no Hana is a very nice film subtly different in tone from but certainly on par with some of the weaker Ghibli projects like Ponyo, Arrietty, Baron, Marnie, and superior to Gen Senki (which I don't think is a terrible film).

      Read the first issue of DC's new hero comic Damage. Exactly as it appears to be, it's DC's iteration of The Incredible Hulk. Because Batman issue 39 reportedly introduced a new hero, I read the issue. I wasn't aware that the current incarnation of Wonder Woman spoke in somewhat pidgin English. It's rather charming. As of issue 3, I think I'm done with Brilliant Trash. I still don't fully understand it, nor do I even care enough to want to. Read the fifth issue of Mage series 3.


        Watched Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san episode 3.

        Unfortunately, the second episode of Death March is simply boring. The episode stretches ten minutes of story, at best, to a full twenty minutes.

        The first episode of Killing Bites surprised me because it wasn't quite as silly as I anticipated it would be. The second episode does fulfill those expectations.

        Watched Hakumei to Mikochi episode 2.

        Sadly, Slow Start episodes 2 & 3 continue to confirm that the series doesn't have nearly as much personality as many prior similar series.

        I'm quite relieved that the second episode of Dagashi Kashi 2 goes a long way toward dispelling my fear that the shorter episode length of this season would compromise the show's ability to focus on candy while still developing characterization.

        Watched Dragon Ball Super episode 124.

        Itou Junji Collection episode 3 still felt flawed, although it's the most atmospheric episode so far. The episode devotes most of its length to a story that doesn't seem to need the length. The episode's second story is presented practically as an afterthought while it seems as though it would have been far more powerful if it had the bulk of the episode's time to develop.

        While the Drifters episode 13 OVA continues to advance the story, it's even sillier than usual episodes.

        Watched the Seitokai Yakuindomo* tenth OAD.

        The second episode of Nanatsu no Taizai: Commandments Revival really felt like it's struggling to create conflict & drama unnecessarily.

        The first episode of Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan practically makes a joke of the fact that it's nearly indistinguishable from the first season.

        Watched Ple Ple Pleiades 2 episodes 1 & 2.

        Watched Clear Card Hen episode 3.

        The narrative construction of Darling in the Franxx episode 2 reveals the major flaw in the show's construction. Pairs of kids piloting the robots requires a near Aquarion-level of emotional compatibility, yet the pilots don't know anything about the complexity of emotion, and their adult instructors don't teach them. Narratively the omission allows for a great deal of cinematic drama and characterization, but none of it makes basic sense because the concept is parallel to the idea of needing a bodyguard, giving the bodyguard a weapon but not telling the bodyguard how the weapon works. The situation is just counterproductive and defies logical common sense.

        The third episode of Ryuou no Oshigoto is a particularly strong one, but it feels as if it would have been better stretched to two episodes to allow more time for suspense and to allow more of the character's psychology and strategy to shine through.

        Watched Pop Team Epic episode 3.

        Watched Yurucamp episode 3.

        Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 15 is a pleasant one.

        Watched Kokkoku episode 3.

        Violet Evergarden episode 2 is nice, and one can defend the story development as exemplary of human nature. But it's also a bit frustrating. Even after Erica got reprimanded specifically because Violet wasn't suited for work duty yet, Erica still allowed Violet to take on duties beyond her capacity, resulting in further easily avoidable damage. At least if the episode was going to insist on that plot development, I wish it had focused more on it and delived more into Erica's reasoning & psychology.

        The second episode of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens still feels ambitious in intention but mediocre in execution. The episode clearly wants viewers to sympathize with certain characters, but those characters are so unpleasant that feeling any pity for them is impossible.

        Watched Mitsuboshi Colors episode 3. I do have to wonder about the wisdom of playing "bomb scare."

        I don't think that Overlord II episode 3 was a particularly weak episode, but I don't understand why Nazarik attacked the lizard people. Ainz clearly handicapped his own attack, so there's no sense that he actually desired to win the battle. But if he didn't intend to win, what was the point of the attack at all?

        Watched Kaiju Girls II episode 3.

        Got around to watching the first episode of the 2014 Constantine television series. It's briskly paced and exaggerated enough to be enjoyable without going over the top and becoming campy. It's thankfully not a slow slog like Outcast. It's comparable in tone to Lucifer but far more satisfying because it concentrates on its supernatural aspects rather than feeling like a sitcom with a supernatural undertone.

        Watched SHIELD episode 7.

        Watched the Patriots come back to beat the Jaguars in the AFC championship. Then watched the Eagles blow out the Vikings in the NFC championship game.


          YoriMoi episode 4 is a solid episode.

          I'm less on the fence over watching Toji no Miko as committed to watching it despite recognizing that it's not especially good. Episode 3 feels rather conventional and very mediocre rather than outright bad.

          Violet Evergarden continues to be gorgeous looking, but as of episode 3 the story still feels dry and hollow. The primary theme of the show is recognizing and empathizing with human emotions. The show is literally about letter-writers who have to capture a speaker's meaning from dictation, sussing out the intention and emotional intent of the message. Yet throughout the first three episodes every character is robotic to a varying degree. The protagonist is a literal human robot entirely lacking in emotional awareness. Yet even the people around her who are supposed to assist and nurture her don't. Literally even her formal trade instructors whose profession is intuiting and conveying emotional intent completely fail to recognize that Violet is fundamentally out of touch with emotion. In effect, the show makes the viewer want to shout at the screen, “You'll all doing it wrong! None of you are even trying!” The show claims to be about lyricism and poetic rhetoric, yet it contains none. Even the climax of episode 3 finally manages to summarize a small degree of emotion within two typewritten sentences, but even those example sentences suggest much more than they actually say, thus ironically continuing to reinforce the show's present weakness.

          Watched Takunomi episode 2.

          On one hand, Precure A la Mode episode 47 was the cliche scenario I expected, but nuance and emotion elevated the episode to being far better than I anticipated it would be. Episode 48 is servicable but still feels just a bit underwhelming. On a technical note, it's interesting because I think it's the first TV episode in which all of the girls use melee attacks.

          Watched Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san episode 4.

          Watched Yurucamp episode 4.

          Hakumei to Mikochi episode 3 has a smaller scope than the prior two episodes yet is still the series' best episode so far because it's more nuanced and concentrates more pointedly on characterization than the prior two episodes.

          Killing Bites episode 3 introduces so many plot contradictions and nonsensical plot developments that my head is spinning in an attempt to keep track of and reconcile all of them. Yuya was introduced as merely a stand-in for Hitomi's financier, yet now he's considered her manager. Hitomi was scouted and recruited to participate in the tournament, except one episode later she's asked not to participate in the tournament. The Killing Bites tournament was created as a betting ring among conglomerates, but suddenly the businesses are all agreeable toward an outside individual altering the purpose of the event for his own personal edification. The were-animal “brutes” were funded and developed by commercial businesses, yet none of those four businesses actually use either their research or their “brutes” for commercial purposes? Really? The one-on-one tournament is suddenly a battle royal, except it's also not like a battle royale because it's also like a chess game. The “brutes” were specifically financed and developed to be cage fighters, so why on earth was a were-rabbit that dislikes fighting even developed in the first place? None of this sh*t makes the slightest bit of sense!

          Watched the first episode of Nanatsu no Bitoku. I'm surprised that its predecessor series, Sin ~Nanatsu no Taizai~, got full-length episodes, yet this show consists of only four-minute episodes.

          Nanatsu no Taizai: Ten Commandments episode 3 wraps up the odd plot developments from the prior episode quite abruptly, but at least it does give some logical explanation.

          I really appreciate the way the story development in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni episode 3 isn't trying to artificially prolong the drama but rather letting it naturally go where it naturally flows.

          After seeing Last Jedi theatrically for a third time, I did become conscious of a few more nitpicky little plot holes or narrative lapses, but they're genuinely minor, and I find that I do still like the movie quite a bit.


            Watched the Bikini Warriors episode 16 OVA.

            Watched Ito Junji Collection episode 4.

            Watched Pop Team Epic episode 4.

            The third episode of Dagashi Kashi 2 is a nice one.

            Watched Darling in the Franxx episode 3.

            Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 16 is fine if unexceptional.

            Dragon Ball Super episode 125 goes by quickly.

            Watched Clear Card Hen episode 4.

            To its credit, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens episode 3 really does get a lot more convoluted. However, despite being more complicated, it's still no more interesting.

            Watched Toji no Miko episode 4. The show continues to be frustrating because enjoying it at all requires overlooking the fact that the basic scenario makes no sense. There's no reason why Hiyori shouldn't have told other people about her suspicions and self-determined mission. Furthermore, since Yukari surrounds herself by the most elite miko, it makes no sense at all that all of those elite miko would overlook anything suspicious about Yukari.

            Viewers that don't follow Pretty Cure will naturally have no cause to watch Precure A la Mode episode 49 and likely wouldn't notice anything unusual about it. But I suspect that long-time Precure viewers will agree that the A la Mode series' final episode is the most unique episode of the series and one of the most unusual episodes of the Pretty Cure franchise, in both positive and negative ways. As if realizing that the prior climactic battle episode was a bit light on emotional impact, this episode did contain the intense emotion that was lacking in the previous episode. But the emotion in episode 49 is entirely created by relationship drama rather than action and conflict. On one hand, the episode deserves credit for being able to evoke heartfelt emotion from strictly characterization. On the other hand, this series simply concludes with a distinctly underwhelming big boss battle. I think that for the first time ever, this season literally functions as a segueway into the forthcoming season. At least for the past nine years the Pretty Cure franchise has existed within a single continuity, but I believe this week's episode is the first time a TV episode has introduced the star of the subsequent season, thereby cracking open the door of possibility just a bit wider for an eventual “All Stars” TV series. I'm also glad to see that A la Mode episode 49 distinctly illustrates that the fighting in “Hugto Precure” will revert back to the traditional melee style. The season's epilogue is also something I don't believe the Precure franchise has ever done before, despite it being something I've long been interested in seeing.


              Kokkoku episode 4 gets a bit more interesting.

              Watched Mitsuboshi Colors episode 4.

              Overlord II episode 4 is a bit more interesting but still serves as just a prelude to the forthcoming episode.

              I'm partially worried by the fourth episode of Ryuou no Oshigoto because the episode does broaden its perspective a bit while at the same time clearly hinting that it's going to become even more conventional and pander even more to predictable expectations.

              YoriMoi episode 5 is exceptionally good. The framing of the shot separating Mari & Megu at the shrine is one of the most exceptionally composed single shots I've ever seen within an anime. Likewise, their "breakup" scene - particularly the way distance between the two girls is utilized - is excellent. Hinata's advice at the shrine is very thoughtful. And seeing Mari truly grow up is very affecting.

              The first episode of Fate/Extra Last Encore is largely a disappointment. Typical of Shaft anime, it's goregous looking. But it makes very little comprehensible sense, and what is comprehensible seems disappointing. If the legendary spirits are now just computer-generated digital avatars, being a "master" is less about being an innately powerful mage and more like being a skilled video game player.

              I'm very disappointed to find that the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei movie just isn't very good. Production studio 8-bit's animation is fine, as is Risako Yoshida's directing. The film's major weakness is a very poor script. Knowing this franchise, I didn't expect the movie to be non-stop action, yet I was still disappointed to find that within the first 50 minutes of the 90 minute film, there's only one brief action scene, and it has no bearing on the film's plot. Furthermore, the script hinges heavily on massive omissions. The film's only battle scenes are strictly caused by confusion and miscommunication because seemingly none of the factions or countries represented in the film communicate with each other, even when they all want the same end result. After a valuable test subject escapes, the film doesn't bother to depict how the organization she escaped from reacts. With a global catastrophe impending, seemingly no country notices or bothers to do anything about it. In effect, the screenplay feels like a sitcom, except it's supposed to be a drama. And the screenplay also feels like about a third of its story is missing. The TV series felt exciting and awe-inspiring. Nothing in the movie ever has much impact because the scenarios simply don't have any sense of tension or weight. Attacking a lightly defended base, destroying empty buildings, or putting out fires doesn't have the same degree of excitement or tension as fights against bloodthirsty opponents. So most of the film's action is actually pretty boring. Ultimately, the film is just so bland that when it concludes it leave no impact on viewers at all.

              Violet Evergarden episode 4 is another gorgeous looking episode that doesn't quite hit the emotion with the strength it intends.

              Watched Death March episode 4. For some reason, I continue to watch this show as soon as new weekly episodes appear despite it being moderately bad.

              Koi wa Ameagari no You ni episode 4 offsets a mildly unpleasant first half with a very sweet second half.

              Watched Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san episode 5. Tomato & melted cheese ramen sounds like pasta to me.

              I intended to just pick through the Aimer Live in Budokan “blanc et noir” concert recording, but I ended up just watching the entire two-plus hour show from beginning to end. On a side note, I hadn't realized previously that the vocalist's name was French and is pronounced like "M.A."

              Read the first two story arcs of Dark Horse's translated Legend of Mother Sarah. It's post-apocalyptic action/adventure: good but conceptually nothing readers haven't also seen elsewhere.


                Watched Yurucamp episode 5. I guess the outclub girls don't know the trick to soaping pots to reduce soot-staining.

                Watched the second episode of Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan. I like the show's old-school visual design that emulates the look of traditional cel animation.

                The second Natsume Yujinchou Roku special is very nice.

                Watched Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens episode 4. At least it includes some gratifyingly violent action.

                Watched Toji no Miko episode 5.

                My worries over the shorter length of Dagashi Kashi 2 episodes has already been dispelled, but episode 4 solidified the sense that the second season is more than capable of delivering outstanding episodes.

                Watched Darling in the Franxx episode 4.

                Watched Nanatsu no Taizai: Ten Commandments episode 4.

                Pleased to see Vegeta get his moment to shine in Dragon Ball Super episode 126.

                Watched Killing Bites episode 4.

                Watched Hakumei to Mikochi episode 4.

                I'm undecided on the first episode of Hugtto Precure. It does exhibit promise. Nono is energetic and confident, making her appealing and sympathetic. And after a season with no good fights, the possibility of a new Precure series that may once again feature good battles is reason for hope. However, despite good production values and promising potential, nothing about this first episode is particularly exceptional.

                Even compared to typical, Pop Team Epic episode 5 was atypically twisted.

                Ito Junji Collection episode 5 is moderately enjoyable.

                Watched Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 17.

                Watched SHIELD episodes 8 & 9. The continued fluidity of Mac's ethics continues to be distractingly annoying.

                Occasionally I watch low-profile action movies in hopes of uncovering another overlooked gem like William Kaufman's Sinners and Saints. Director Brian Smrz's 24 Hours to Live is not a bad effort, but it's also not up to the level of overlooked gem. The gunplay action is intense, graphic, and violent, although it sadly relies on fake-looking post-production CG blood squibs. The film's biggest weakness is simply that it doesn't actually contain a whole lot of action. The action scenes are lengthy, but they're spaced quite far apart. Three of this film's producers were producers on John Wick 1 and/or 2. 24 Hours to Live definitely wants to borrow its approach from John Wick, but it doesn't quite have the scripting or directing talent to pull off the ambition. Particularly John Wick 1 was able to deftly combine an empathetic personal story with intense action because the film used montage well and made the most of its brief downtime scenes. 24 Hours to Live isn't as economical, so its efforts to give its lead characters personal, empathetic backgrounds also slows the film's pacing.


                  Watched Mitsuboshi Colors episode 5.

                  Watched Kokkoku episode 5.

                  Ryuou no Oshigoto episode 5 again develops in peaks and valleys.

                  CCS: Clear Card episode 5 isn't bad, per se, but it disappoints me somewhat because it feels a bit lazy. Especially in this episode Sakura doesn't seem to have to “capture” cards so much as merely find them, and the finding is made especially easy when the cards come looking for her. Prior episodes have made at least a halfhearted attempt to depict her using her collected cards to secure new ones. But in episode 5 she doesn't actually need to use any of her magic cards in order to seal and secure a new one. So hunting and collecting cards doesn't seem to involve any challenge or effort.

                  Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism episode 13 is a strictly by-the-numbers onsen episode.

                  Overlord II episode 5 is certainly the best of the second season, but the prior second season episodes have been rather weak. Episode 5 began with plenty of very amusing humor then transitioned to an interesting battle scene.

                  Watched YoriMoi episode 6. On a side note, durian doesn't actually taste bad at all. It just smells terrible.

                  Watched Kaiju Girls 2 episode 5.

                  Particularly for veteran fans, the opening minutes of the Seitokai Yakuindomo movie are striking and unexpected. Studio GoHands deliberately widens the scope of the show, giving viewers a view of the larger student body and the surrounding community that's never been prominent in the prior anime. Moreover, as if experimenting with possibility, the movie's opening minutes try out a variety of different animation styles. However, after the film's opening credits, it settles into the typical style and formula that viewers expect from the series.

                  Ironically Violet Evergarden episode 5 is the best episode of the series so far despite the titular character only playing a minor, supporting role in the episode.

                  Read the first volume of "Immortal Hounds" (Shinazu no Ryouken). It's passable. The scenario is unusual enough that it requires a great deal of contextualization to be believable. The book largely succeeds. The action is comprehensible. However, the story development feels just a bit cliche and heavy-handed. The amount of drama present feels a bit overblown, the result of the author's deliberate manipulative influence on the story more than the story developing in a natural and entirely believable way.

                  Read the three volumes of Dance in the Vampire Bund: Memories of Sledgehammer. While technically a sequel, the first two books feel more like a transition or even like a tangential epilogue because they contains far less action and conflict than the original series and revolve around less interesting supporting characters from the first series. The third volume goes a long way toward paying off the prior two with substantial connection to the original series and plenty of plot twists, if not actually one or two too many plot twists. The third volume feels particularly cinematic in good and bad ways. It's exciting and contains a lot of kinetic action but also feels a bit predictable with its narrative turns. The third book does set up a natural transition into the “Dive in the Vampire Bund” proper sequel series.

                  After a several-month hiatus, the 13th issue of Monstress is excellent. I can distinctly tell that anyone unfortunate enough to begin reading the series on this issue would be entirely lost. But readers that are familiar with the prior dozen issues will find the new plot developments, the return of select characters, and the further development of particular character relationships in issue 13 very rewarding. Monstress really is epic fantasy on a relatively unique scale because it's so intricately convoluted yet comprehensible with a massive cast of races, characters, and politics. Read Maestros issue 4. Read Steve Niles & Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Trio, which compiles the first three issues of a four issue comic mini-series. Although it is an original adaptation of Shelly's Frankenstein tale, it feels very familiar. However, the scripting is admirably gothic, and the visual art is outstanding, as typical of Wrightson's work. The fourth and final issue of Sherlock Frankenstein is once again excellent. The first issue of creators Simon Spurrier & Rachael Stott's satirical sci-fi/action comic series Motherlands strikes me as tremendously more bawdy than I expect from DC's Vertigo line. While the first issue doesn't contain any sex, it is filled with nudity, graphic violence, and exceptionally creative explicit language. The comic feels far, far more like a publication from Action Lab, Black Mask, or possibly Dark Horse. It's very adult, and I found it raucously enjoyable. Judging by the first issue of DC's new superhero, or anti-hero, comic series The Silencer, protagonist Honor Guest looks far better with her hair grown out than she does on the cover of the first issue with her buzz cut. In personality, she's vaguely reminiscent of DC's take on New Mutants character Domino. The first issue isn't especially unique, but it's solid and satisfying, and has a stronger than expected tie-in to the core DC Comics universe.

                  I'm very conflicted over The Cloverfield Paradox. It's regrettably overly comparable to prior similar films Event Horizon and Sunshine in the regard that some of it is quite good while some of it isn't. Conceptually Cloverfield Paradox is based on a rather lazy and inexplicably confusing setting. I'm unclear on how it's possible to run out of energy sources when all of the sources of renewable energy are still prevalent. Furthermore, the film is supposed to occur simultaneously with the first Cloverfield movie, yet its contextual setting doesn't appear to be the same. The unsettling and horrific mystery aboard the space station is suspenseful and macabre, but it also lacks plausible explanation. The film distinctly suggests, a'la Event Horizon, that a malevolent force is targeting the crew. But the film provides no clear evidence of this force. The body horror elements of the film don't appear to be physically possible, and they get no explanation. I'm unclear on why the film includes and spends so much time with the character Molly. She doesn't appear to contribute anything whatsoever to the film's plot, and I can't place her in relation to the earlier two Cloverfield movies. Furthermore, while this film does provide background to the first film, it doesn't at all provide any context or explanation for 10 Cloverfield Lane. In fact, it seems to undermine the tenuous connection between the first and second films.

                  Watched the Eagles unexpectedly knock off the Patriots in the Superbowl. The Patriots played as they typically do, but the Eagles really went all-out.


                    Death March episode 5 continues to advance at a slogging slow pace. And at only five episodes in the show has practically entirely abandoned or forgotten introductory setting details including the fact that Satou was one of the programmers behind the game world he now lives in and the fact that despite his alternate world boyish appearance, he's actually a mature adult.

                    Watched Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san episode 6.

                    Watched Koi wa Ameagari no You ni episode 5.

                    Hakumei to Mikochi episode 5 is a very pleasant episode.

                    I'm aware that the primary plot turn in Dagashi Kashi 2 episode 5 can be explained, but it still feels unnatural and a bit forced.

                    Watched Killing Bites episode 5.

                    Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens has been bad from its first episode, but as of episode 5 it takes a turn into being a more pronounced bad comedy. The episode literally contains too many ignorant and dumb plot holes for me to even want to waste my time recounting. But many of them are so ridiculous that they can only be interpreted as a weak attempt at satirical humor. By the end of this episode I realized that I'm now watching this show just out of morbid curiosity to experience how awful it is.

                    Watched Pop Team Epic 6.

                    Despite Toji no Miko episode 6 finally adressing one lingering plot hole, the episode's storytelling felt especially artificial and compromised.

                    Dragon Ball Super episode 126 was better than I anticipated it would be.

                    Unfortunately, Ito Junji Collection episode 6 regresses a bit. It's a weak episode because the first story abruptly ends just when it begins to get most interesting. And the second story simply doesn't make sense. The expository details it lays out conflict with the details of the developing story.

                    Watched Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 18.

                    Nanatsu no Taizai: Ten Commandments episode 5 lived up to its promise and delivered the sort of grotesque ultra-violence that characterized the later half of the first series.

                    Watched Mitsuboshi Colors episode 6.

                    Although it's not a sort of "best episode ever," Kokkoku episode 6 is substantial and gratifying enough to pay off the wait through the prior five episodes.

                    Darling in the Franxx episode 5 is quite interesting.

                    Mazinger Z Infinity is literally a grown up Mazinger. Set a decade after Great Mazinger, the entire cast is now adults, and particularly the previously single-minded vengeance-seeking Kabuto Kouji has matured into a reserved and considerate adult who thinks in terms of consequences first rather than actions first. The film still has plenty of large scale mecha destruction action, and a super robot anime wouldn't be a super robot anime without pilots that shout their attack names. But “Infinity” still feels just a bit more reserved and dignified than, for example, 2010's Mazinkaiser SKL. The movie does make certain to gratify long-time fans with plenty of lushly animated action along with fan-service nods to Mazinger anime traditions, Mazinger's global fan base, and even some homages to St. Seiya and Dragon Ball. Around the middle of the film the storytelling arguably gets just a bit distracted and preoccupied with minor asides, but the plot and conflict is never of primary concern for this film. The movie is far more about delivering a nostalgia trip for veteran fans and plenty of explosive, kinetic action for new viewers.

                    Hugtto Precure episode 2 is interesting in the regard that it confirms that it will eventually introduce a fourth Precure, although the episode also seems to pretty clearly hint who the fourth will be. The episode is also interesting to me because it confirms that Cure Yell doesn't appear to be naturally as strong physically as the original Cure Black & Cure White, but when she uses magic her physical brute strength increases far more than any of the other recent generation cures.

                    Ryuou no Oshigoto episode 6 is very frustrating because the episode revolves around Yaichi trying to overcome his perceived weakness, yet he fails to recognize what his obvious weakness actually is. Yaichi thinks that his strategy is weak, yet at the end of the episode Natagiri even admits that the strategy Yaichi uses is best. Yaichi simply allows himself to get distracted by Natagiri's teasing. If Yaichi simply concentrated on his game instead of on Natagiri's taunts, he'd be just fine.

                    Watched Clear Card Hen episode 6.

                    Watched Overlord II episode 6.

                    Watched SHIELD episode 10.


                      I can appreciate that YoriMoi episode 7 is necessary to develop the plot, but the episode still feels as if it drags down the pacing of the series so far.

                      Watched Kaiju Girls 2 episode 6.

                      I'm a bit conflicted over Violet Evergarden episode 6. On initial impression it seems like a second very good episode in a row suggesting that perhaps now the anime has begun to reach the quality of the novels that justified the anime adaptation in the first place. Moreover, at last this episode finally depicts someone bothering to actually teach Violet about her emotions, even if he does so half-unconsciously. The two weaknesses of the episode are, initially, the episode's cliché predictability. Moreover, the bigger compromise in the episode lies in the idea that Leon ironically learns to embrace and unburden his emotions from someone who doesn't even understand the example she's setting. One may argue that Leon is a commendable character because he's intuitive enough to learn from his experiences. On the other hand, his great achievement doesn't feel as commendable when he achieved it because it was passed on to him by accident or coincidence.

                      Death March episode 6 still isn't very good, but at least by the end of the episode it begins to feel as though maybe some sort of significant narrative development is starting.

                      Watched Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san episode 7.

                      Watched Koi wa Ameagari no You ni episode 6.

                      Watched Killing Bites episode 6.

                      Sex Criminals is not a typical juvenile adventure comic. It's a provocative adult comic about the complexity of sexual relationships between adults made even more complex when bizarre supernatural complications are added in. So Sex Criminals typically elevates to a higher level of literacy than typical comic book stories. Issue 21 then featured a fun Freddie Mercury joke but otherwise was a quite routine and unremarkable issue. Likewise, Imaginary Fiends issue 3 continues to be disappointingly average. Black Magick issue 10 is fine albeit not especially eventful. Ninja-K issue 3 is good; issue 4 is even better. Paper Girls issue 20 feels as if its propelling its story forward at the same time it doesn't know where its own story is going. The second issue of The Consultant continues to feel exactly like Garth Ennis writing Justice League although it's literally neither. Mage 3 issue 6 finally feels as though it's beginning to introduce a bit of substantial narrative development. After what feels like a year's wait, the fifth and final issue of Skyborne is entertaining. But since it's just a single extended action scene it doesn't entirely feel like it pays off the long wait for it. The first issue of DC's new hero comic Sideways does seem as if it may have the potential to appeal to a contemporary teen and young adult readership. Although the protagonist's powers aren't exactly like Spider-Man's, the tone of the book does feel very reminiscent of Spider-Man. The graphic art is a bit more detailed than The Silencer, but I thought The Silencer had much more interesting writing. Got around to catching up on most of the Cavewoman comics from the past two years: Raptorella 2, My Little Dino, Ankha's Revenge 1-3, Destination Jungle, Leave My Man Alone, Starship Blish 1-2, It's A Girl's Life, Carrie's Oasis Diary, Deep Water, and Pool Party.

                      Read the first volume of “Alita: Mars Chronicle.” Attractive art, nicely personified characters, and a penchant for shameless graphic violence help keep the otherwise rather mundane story moderately interesting.

                      Read the first volume of the Dive in the Vampire Bund side-story manga. It felt especially familiar, so I'm uncertain whether I've read it before or if it just seems familiar because it so heavily references events that occur within the middle of the primary Vampire Bund manga continuity.

                      Before I dive into the weeds I'll say that Black Panther is good. It's among the upper tier of MCU movies, but I wouldn't rank it among the very best for a few reasons. For one thing, the film is unfortunately boxed in by the surrounding MCU continuity. The primary events of the film occur immediately after Captain America: Civil War, seemingly before the settings of Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. So the movie can't have an appreciable global impact because it can't contradict the settings already established by the prior films. So despite occurring in at least four different countries, Black Panther still feels like a relatively small film. However, it's not an especially intimate film. Because the movie wants to introduce and flesh out its substantial supporting characters, T'Challa doesn't actually get a substantial degree of character development. His emotional responses and changes get divided up among several characters. The tight setting of the film also somewhat works against the movie because the film subtly undermines its own narrative. The film establishes that Wakanda has had a long lineage of Black Panthers. However, the film fails to identify exactly what the hereditary line of Black Panthers have done. Who have the prior Black Panthers been defending Wakanda from? The pacing feels a bit skewed. Even though the movie contains several early action sequences, the first half of the film also feels especially leisurely and expository while the second half distinctly increases the tension and speeds the pace. The disjointed separation in pacing between the first and second halves of the movie is very noticeable and distracting. The film earns some credit for daring to introduce heady concepts including colonialism, racial inequality, and the justification of foreign aid. However, the film does little more than just introduce the concepts. Further to its credit, the movie has great art & setting design, and dynamic character and costume design that feels foreign yet still authentic rather than cheap and exploitative. Thanks to a consistent tight focus, the action scenes have a sense of weight and consequence; however, at the same time the elaborate car chase in the first half of the film looks distinctly artificial, and all of the film's action scenes lack a degree of the exaggerated larger-than-life scale that has now come to typify the MCU movies because characters including Iron-Man, Thor, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Hulk, and even Spider-Man tend to create such elaborate collateral damage while Black Panther is an unusually strong and agile yet otherwise normal human being.

                      Finished off Black Mirror season 3 episodes 4-6. These episodes are appreciably better than some of the earlier ones, but they still have flaws. "San Junipero" is an interesting, provocative romance until it gets ugly then begins to compromise its principles. "Men Against Fire" is an excellent episode until it doesn't know where to end. As soon as the video recording of the protagonist's enlistment appears, all of the episode's remaining plot developments make zero logical or logistical sense, thereby compromising what was, up to that point, an excellent episode. "Hated in the Nation" is an intense crime thriller first compromised when the otherwise intelligent Detectives Parke makes the worst decision possible to escape from "nature" by staying at an old, insecure house in the woods. Then the episode ends with a deliberately creative yet intensely frustrating cliffhanger ending.


                        Watched Dagashi Kashi 2 episode 6. I'm glad to see the show finally introduce one of the two new characters.

                        Regrettably Nanatsu no Taizai: Imashime no Fukkatsu episode 6 just isn't very good. The first half of the episode may relate some vital back story. But as long as it doesn't include the series' main characters it feels less interesting. The second half of the episode is all exposition with a terribly artificial plot twist.

                        I'm very conflicted over Dragon Ball Super episode 128. Vegeta got his moment to shine. And the episode does explain how Goku is able to awaken again. But his ability to reach ultra instinct again feels more like magic than tapping into a hidden reserve of strength.

                        The live-action kamishibai segment in Pop Team Epic 7 was really neat.

                        Watched Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 19.

                        Excusing some obligatory heavy melodrama, Darling in the FranXX episode 6 is very good.

                        Watched Hugtto Precure episode 3.

                        Watched Clear Card Hen episode 7. At least this time around Sakura put a little effort into securing a new card.

                        Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens episode 6 is another disappointment. The Niwaka Samurai is supposed to be the very best of the best while the Submarine Ninja is a braggart who's only taken out weaklings, yet they're evenly matched? Since the episode does nothing to demonstrate that the Niwaka Samurai was holding back, the viewers' only conclusion is that he's not actually as skilled and formidable as his reputation claims.

                        Kokkoku episode 7 is an interesting one because it concentrates on making the story more complex rather than either suspense or action.

                        Watched Toji no Miko episode 7.

                        Ito Junji Collection episode 7 is definitely one of the series' better episodes because the stories are highly weird and creepy.

                        Ryuo no Oshigoto episode 7 forces me to wonder how knowledgeable creator Shirow Shiratori actually is about shogi. As I predicted last week, protagonist Yaichi does recognize and overcome the specific obstacle that was affecting him in episode 6 exactly the way I anticipated he would. However, the execution in the episode is remarkably superficial. Rather than carefully explain how Yaichi extricates himself from being cornered, the anime does the literary equivalent of, “Yaichi made a series of unconventional moves and won the game.” Like a deus ex machina, without any explanation of strategy, Yaichi just suddenly performs some sort of magic and turns the tables on his opponent.

                        Watched Hakumei to Mikochi episode 6.

                        Watched Overlord II episode 7, which turned out to be disappointingly dull and rather sub-par in production values.

                        Watched Kaiju Musume 2 episode 7.

                        Hellraiser: Judgement appears to be the “Phantasm: Ravager” of the Hellraiser franchise. In other words, it's a commendable fan film but still an ambitious failure. To its credit, Hellraiser: Judgement does wear its affection for the franchise on its sleeve. However, at the same time the script and directing from Gary J. Tunnicliffe are handled with a too broad brush. Especially the opening scene plays as Hellraiser inspired more by the Saw franchise than Clive Barker. The middle of the thankfully short 81-minute film is literally a poor man's remake of Seven. The climax gets back to the franchise roots, arguably a bit too faithfully while at the same time integrating new revisionist concepts that would make Last Jedi purists claw their eyes out because the rewriting of established canon is so extreme. On the positive side, actor Paul T. Taylor portrays a passable Pinhead, although he's no Doug Bradley. Regrettably, the weaknesses are virtually everything else. The film is passably acted but looks like the cheap shot-on-video production that it is. Furthermore, the production seemingly couldn't even gather enough acting extras to make the sets feel authentic. The movie features plenty of blood but minimal viscera and gore. The movie tries to evoke an unsettling, creepy atmosphere but never goes far enough to be affecting, partly due to budgetary limitations. The film is filled with poorly scripted logic holes, most of them contained in the first third of the film. Why isn't detective Egerton wearing gloves when she appears at the first crime scene, and why aren't there any other police, EMTs, photographers, or forensics specialists present. Why don't detectives Carter & Carter know that they've been assigned a new partner? Why do they ask Egerton why she's been assigned to them instead of asking the supervisor who did the assigning? Why does David Carter have to explain who the medical examiner is to detective Egerton? And why doesn't said medical examiner recognize her? And the biggest seeming logical flaw in the picture is why the Auditor consistently seems so squeamish. He's supposed to be an emissary of hell, yet he flinches at the sight of every violent or grotesque event. If Hellraiser: Judgement was an amateur film festival presentation or YouTube fan film it'd be highly praiseworthy. On an estimated $350,000 budget, it's an impressive effort. As an official Dimension Pictures commercial entry in the Hellraiser franchise, it barely warrants acknowledgement as a footnote.


                          Watched YoriMoi episode 8. I appreciate the way this episode spent time to depict the little details.

                          All I could think about while watching Violet Evergarden episode 7 was the idea that the episode should have been extended to two episodes in order to allow the plot, character introductions, and late-episode revelations space to breath and have more impact on viewers.

                          Masochistically watched Death March episode 7.

                          Watched Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san episode 8.

                          Koi wa Ameagari no You ni episode 7 is a good episode with an exceptional sequence in the middle.

                          Watched Yurucamp episodes 7-8. Previously watched 6 but forgot to mention.

                          Watched Hakumei to Mikochi episode 7.

                          Dagashi Kashi 2 episode 7 is a lot of fun.

                          Watched Toji no Miko episode 8.

                          Watched Hakata Tonkatsu Ramens episode 7.

                          Ito Junji Collection episode 8 may be the best episode of the series so far because both segments of this episode actually delivered the creepy, grotesque oddity viewers anticipate from this series.

                          Watched Nanatsu no Taizai: Ten Commandments episode 7.

                          For the most part, Killing Bites episode 7 is typical silliness. But Yoko's motivation is especially dumb because using violence to demonstrate that violence isn't right doesn't make any sense.

                          Watched Pop Team Epic 8. The "You can pass" joke was pretty darn amusing to me.

                          Watched Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 20.

                          Watched Darling in the Franxx episode 7.

                          If such a thing as a devoted cult following for the Undisputed movies exists, Boyka: Undisputed 4 was made primarily for it. The fairly unremarkable movie is notable only for how remarkably simple it is. As though Undisputed 3 wasn't sufficient redemption for anti-hero protagonist Yuri Boyka, despite being literally titled “Undisputed 3: Redemption,” Undisputed 4 is literally his redemption movie. Viewers watch the film anticipating some surprise or plot twist that never comes. The movie is patently predictable and is surprising only in the regard that it strictly never deviates from the plot path that's most obvious. Other small weaknesses include the fact that actor Alon Aboutboul portrays his Russian mobster character as an Italian stereotype. And the stylistic sameness of all of the film's fighters becomes rather redundant. But at least director Todor Chapkanov realizes that the true headliner of the film, above even star Scott Adkins, is the movie's fight scenes. Although the movie doesn't actually contain very many of them, when the fights do take center stage, director Chapkanov keeps his head down and gives viewers what they want to see.

                          Watched Black Mirror season 4 episodes 1-4.


                            Watched the Dog Days season 3 episode 12.5 hot spring omake OAD. I'd forgotten how big the show's cast had gotten by the end of third season.

                            Watched Clear Card Hen episode 8.

                            Kokkoku episode 8 simultaneously feels more conventional and more complex than earlier episodes becuase of its particular story development.

                            Watched Mitsuboshi Colors episode 8.

                            With only three prior episodes, calling Hugtto Precure episode 4 the best episode of the series so far may not seem to mean much, but episode 4 is particularly strong even in comparison to the previous season. The episode has a meaningful characterization arc with a climax which one again defies series' conventions. Homare's ice skating scene is only about two seconds long, but it's nicely animated. And the episode features a lengthy fight scene that's more intense than any action scene in the entire Precure A la Mode series.

                            Ryuou no Oshigoto episode 8 is another episode that makes me question that creator's familiarity with Shogi. During Ayumu's match with Shakando, the show only refers to Shakando using "beautiful and natural moves" with no details.

                            The later half of Overlord II episode 8 is just barely passable since it focuses on a character that viewers somewhat care about.

                            Since I don't know how much, if any, Japanese creative involvement there was in the creation of Spiripact season 2, I'll give the show benefit of the doubt and consider it a Chinese/Japanese co-produced anime rather than deem it a strictly Chinese production. Seemingly the second season did premiere simultaneously in native Chinese and a Japanese broadcast dub. For a Haloliners/Tencent co-production, the technical production values are only slightly below par compared to typical Japanese productions. So that trait is of minor credit. A bigger problem, however, is the story and character development which feel so flat and routine that the episode is terribly boring.

                            I don't think that YoriMoi episode 9 was a flawless episode. Some of it felt like padding, and some of the editing was over-obviously designed to create transitory tension. But the strengths of the episode helped tip the scale a bit favorably.

                            Quite surprised to see a major battle occur in Kaiju Girls 2 episode 8.

                            Violet Evergarden episode 8 once again suffers from the same problem that's compromised prior episodes. The pacing of this episode does no favors. Since this episode rather rushes through a span of months, if not years, it doesn't adequately explain important moments. The episode excludes Violet's younger childhood, so viewers have no idea why she's feral and illiterate and furthermore have no idea why the military would decide to take in her – and only her – as an draftee. The episode also entirely skips over what, if any, combat training she receives, so there's no clarification about whether she's just a naturally talented killer or whether she's had prior experience or whether she's had training. The prior episodes have distinctly suggested that Major Bougainvillea felt some degree of romantic love for Violet because his dying confession has never come across as strictly platonic parental affection. Yet in this episode there's no evidence of any sense of romantic interest. In fact, the span of time that viewers get to see of a warming and devoted relationship between Gilbert and Violet is so brief that it doesn't seem to justify the intense devotion that Violet feels. And on a technical side note, I'm confused about how and why seemingly both warring countries appear to have developed repeating bolt-action rifles, semi-automatic handguns, and field artillery yet don't appear to have invented any type of grenades or bombs, to say nothing of aircraft.

                            At this point I'm only amusedly hate watching Death March. Episode 8 is abysmally stupid because all evidence continues to suggest that Satou is the strongest being in his new fantasy world, by a pretty wide margin, yet he's still so committed to upholding the ruse that he's a novice weakling and holding back his abilities that he actually does himself disservice. Not only does he allow himself to be troubled unnecessarily, he allows his companions to suffer needlessly all because he won't act appropriately, even when no one is around to see him and despite the fact that he's not a pacifist or coward. Quite simply, his characterization is just terribly written. He's supposed to be a grown adult, yet he has the psychology of a timid adolescent who's more concerned with staying innocuous and “safe” than being a responsible and dependable adult.

                            Koi wa Ameagari no You ni episode 8 is a bit of a more subtle although potentially very important episode.

                            Occasionally we're fortunate enough that genre movies come along that truly defy convention and challenge viewers by being steadfastly provocative yet opaque and ambiguous creative visions. In recent time, writer/director David Lowery's A Ghost Story was such a film. Now writer/director Alex Garland's Annihilation is another such vanguard. Stylistically most comparable to Tarkovsky's Stalker and Kubrick's 2001, Annihilation is a long, slow journey that forces viewers to consider their own responses and reactions to stimuli. To make another comparison, Annihilation is the film that Ridley Scott wanted Prometheus to be. Saying much more is a disservice to potential viewers. This is a film most rewarding to viewers that go in knowing next to nothing about the movie, albeit this is a film which prioritizes philosophical questions and fantastic situations over distinct and simple answers.

                            Read a few comics. Monstress issue 14 is once again excellent. This issue expands the scope of the story even further and significantly escalates the sense of rising tension for multiple characters with multiple parallel character and story arcs. This issue is also especially gorgeous looking even in comparison to typical issues. Maestros issue 5 continues to be exceedingly profane, crude, grotesque, and also gorgeous looking and highly entertaining. The first issue of writer Cullen Bunn & artist Blacky Shepherd's Pumpkinhead mini-series is essentially exactly what one would expect. The graphic art is a bit weak, although not as bad as Andrea Mutti's art for the Highlander: American Dream movie spin-off. The writing is entirely predictable and rote, although it does hint at the possibility that future issues will be a bit more creative. Given the minimal depth of her movie appearance in 1981, I didn't expect a great deal from the fairly long-delayed first issue of the Taarna comic book series, but even my minimal expectations were somewhat let down. The graphic art by Esau Escorza is quite attractive, but the artist's ability to comprehensibly depict action is a bit lacking. Particularly in the first issue's climactic battle sequence, the art tries to depict chaotic action but instead largely just comes across as chaotic, with the reader somewhat unable to distinguish what's happening. Alex de Campi's writing is even weaker because the script reads like an abbreviated plot outline rather than a fully developed story. Readers can follow what's happening in roughly the same way a viewer can interpret a story from a music video. But readers having to piece together a story by interpreting sporadic hints and scenes isn't solid storytelling. To its dubious credit, the sixth issue of Redlands is a brutal, vicious, and angry slice of storytelling that pits immorality against ruthless vigilante justice, in other words, shades of evil. However, I'm shocked and frustrated that the issue is described as the conclusion of the first story arc when the issue very clearly drops obvious hints that the present story is not actually complete. In a literal sense, a pair of detectives are hunting for a specific individual. They find a witness who points them to where the targeted individual is. Then abruptly the story concludes? Isn't something missing here? The first issue of the new Vertigo comic series Death Bed (as in the story begins with a hero on his deathbed telling his life story) is the most fun I've had reading a comic in an age. Joshua Williamson's writing can be called a bit expository. It's also a bit cliché, but the cliché can be excused since the comic is a satire. The real treat is Riley Rossmo's graphic art which resembles a hybrid of Sam Keith with Jeff Lemire. The visual art is highly atmospheric and especially expressive. The result is a jaunty, silly, over-the-top and wildly fun adult adventure. It's provocative, bloody, and foul but never crude. It uses its adult content to incarnate its story rather than just use it as crass shock value.


                              Watched Killing Bites episode 8.

                              Watched Yurucamp episode 9.

                              Watched Uchi no Oochopus episode 4. It's a cute short show for young children. Despite being full CG, it has an interesting, cute design with a pretty remarkable 3D effect.

                              Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens episode 8 actually isn't terribly bad because it doesn't try to be over-ambitious.

                              Hakumei to Mikochi episode 8 is an enjoyable one because it varies from the show's established tone and formula yet still feels faithful to the context and characterization of the story. While the series is typically a slice-of-life drama, this episode is a playful action/adventure.

                              Dagashi Kashi 2 episode 8 is fine, although Hotaru's absence is really starting to feel apparant.

                              On one hand I respect the way Toji no Miko episode 9 tries to add shades of grey to its narrative. But at the same time I'm disappointed that the second half of the episode completely disregards all of the context and detail the series has set up in order to create just a bit of transitory action & suspense. FineMan says that the Origami Family doesn't have the power or authority to oppose a US military vessel, yet only seconds later the episode depicts the Origami soldiers cordoning the US submarine. And Yume easily powers through all of the cannon fodder toji, yet those same girls were supposedly strong and skilled enough to defeat the series' heroines who are a match for Yume. This equation doesn't add up.

                              All I can say about Dragon Ball Super episode 129 without dipping into spoilers is that it gave me goosebumps.

                              Watched Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan episode 3.

                              Watched Darling in the FranXX episode 8.

                              Ito Junji Collection episode 9 features two creepy stories, yet both of them feel as though they should have been extended out to full episode length apiece to allow for a bit more development.

                              Watched Pop Team Epic episode 9.

                              Watched Clear Card Hen episode 9.

                              I'm very conflicted over Mahoutsukai no Yome episode 21. Setting aside the secondary plot twist related to Stella, the core conflict of the episode does feel plausible. But at the same time the way everyone behaves is entirely contradictory to all of their principles. No one talks about Elias' plan even after everyone has agreed not to act rashly or independently. In fact, the entire series so far has been about trusting others and asking for help, yet at the most critical moment, all of the characters set aside that core principle.

                              Nanatsu no Taizai: Ten Commandments episode 8 remains a bit ridiculous, but at least most of the episode is unpredictable and exciting. However, the ending plot development is inevitably predictable because it gets telegraphed well in advance.

                              I've listened to Leo Ieiri's new fifth album, "Time," several times now. I'll share more detailed thoughts on it soon.

                              Finished off Black Mirror season 4 by watching episodes 5 & 6. Although interesting, these two episodes are weaker than the prior three. “Metalhead” is a nice looking episode. The decision to film the episode in monochrome gives everything an attractively desolate aesthetic. However, from an American perspective, the episode seems to have an oddly pro-gun perspective because the only thing that seems to reliably give the protagonist a chance at survival is a shotgun. And the viewer has to conclude that if the episode had been set in America instead of Britain, the scenario would never have escalated to the degree it did because well-armed Americans would have shot all of the robot guard dogs to bits. The “Black Museum” episode is an amusing satire. It has to be taken as a satire because if it's supposed to be a serious drama too many of the small details are entirely illogical or implausible.

                              Constantine episode 3 is quite fun, although it's a bit awkward and grating that everyone insists on referring to the LP as “the acetate” instead of just calling it a “record.”


                                Creator & co-director Kazuto Nakazawa's Netflix original anime series B: The Beginning is a commendable accomplishment. The editing in the first episode is a bit pretentious, and through the first half of the series the occasional scenes of Koku's “normal” life and his relationship with Lily are so sporadic and insignificant that the series may have been better off to just edit them all out. Furthermore, both climactic confrontations are so long that they feel like they're padding to fill the episode's running time. But apart from these rather minor weaknesses, the show is a solidly constructed and impressively assembled hybrid of detective thriller and super-powered angst-riddled kids battle stories. The show has remarkably few plot or logic holes. While characterizations are diverse and interesting, they're not especially empathetic. But such an observation is representative of action anime in general. The show is intense, graphic, and grotesque enough to satisfy viewers who anticipate that adult-oriented anime will be provocative and “dark.” The action is lavishly animated on a clearly generous production budget, by anime standards. The show is a representative example of why Production IG is so associated with and acclaimed for producing high-end intelligent and provocative adult-oriented action anime.

                                Watched Kaiju Girls 2 episode 9.

                                Unfortunately, Overlord II episode 9 really didn't live up to expectations. And more importantly, it undercuts the sense of anticipation that the episode's cliffhanger should build. A team of assassins determined to antagonize the protagonists should be exciting, but this episode has already demonstrated that the second season doesn't always satisfyingly fulfill its promises.

                                On one hand, YoriMoi episode 10 doesn't seem like an exceptional episode, although it's not the weakest of the series. However, a but under the surface it's commendable for following through with its committment to characterization. And I like the simplicity and meaningful concision of its final plot point.

                                Despite being only five episodes in, Hugtto Precure is already a better season than Precure A la Mode was.

                                Ryuo no Oshigoto episode 9 is clearly driving toward a climactic championship battle for Yaichi. But the problem is that the show routinely only tells viewers that his opponent is skilled without ever showing viewers, in detail, what the meijin is capable of or why he's such an intimidating opponent. Many such hobby anime may seem turgid and didactic with their extensive emphasis on strategy. But by comparison, Ryuo no Oshigoto demonstrates that when hobby anime don't have that degree of detail, they lack intensity and don't feel convincing.

                                Watched Kokkoku episode 9.

                                Lately I've been listening to Leo Ieiri's new fifth album, “Time.” In summation, the disc is on par with her prior albums. Stylistically this one skews slightly closer to “Leo,” and “We“ in the regard that it's slightly more pop oriented than folk/indie influenced as “A Boy” and “20” were. The first track, “Zutto, Futari de,” is a fairly conventional and representative J-pop ballad elevated by especially soulful vocals. “Harukaze” is another standard J-pop tune with a particularly upbeat, catchy rhythm. Prior albums have typically included one breakout exceptional track. On “Leo” it was “Shine”; “A Boy” had its title single. The “We” album had “Hello to the World.” On the “Time” album it's definitely “Relax.” The song distinctly takes inspiration from contemporary American R&B/dance music and experiments with autotune. But it's also irrefutably infectious. The fourth track, “Koi no Hajimari,” is pleasant, acoustic ditty reminiscent of Ieiri's more folksy songs. “Tokyo” is a bit of a more aggressive, jazzy influenced rocker, but while it gets credit for being a bit risky, it's ultimately also a bit disposable. “After Dark” recollects the catchy J-pop sound of Ieiri's first album and tracks like “Sabrina.” It may not be especially progressive, but it is very catchy. “Fantasy” is the album's most aggressive rocker by far. The song actually sounds a lot like an updated version of an 80's or early 90's J-pop tune. While the song isn't among Ieiri's, or even the album's strongest, the energy in it and the commitment to it give it some irrefutable strength. Ieiri is a good enough vocalist to be able to pull off the song, but this sort of harder rock just isn't her forte. “Arikitari Desu ka” is a pleasant acoustic-style ballad that allows Ieiri's voice to shine and serve as a cool-down from the intense beat of “Fantasy.” “Datte Neko Dakara” is where the album distinctly takes a slightly dip. The song features a higher octave vocal in a bubblegum pop tune that's not bad but isn't remarkable in any way. “Papa no Tokei” picks up the pace but also sounds just a bit redundant, continuing the transitory sensation that the album has hit a lull. Like “Arikitari Desu ka,” “Binetsu” is another acoustic-style ballad that keeps the musical accompaniment in the background to allow Ieiri's voice to serve as the highlight instrument. However, the song itself is such a conventional J-pop tune that it still continues the album's descent into a weaker span. “Inori no Melody” is another soft ballad, this one stylistically comparable to much of the “A Boy” and “20” albums. However, the powerful emotion in this song elevates it above average and lifts the album out of its three-consecutive track slump. The album wraps up with the happy anthemic “Daijinamono Subete,” that's difficult to dismiss because it has a degree of earworm catchiness.