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    Goblin Slayer episode 4 is a fun and thrilling episode because it's exactly the sort of grim and harsh sword & sorcery fantasy that we rarely get to see, not only in anime but in any cinematic medium.

    At this past weekend's Spooky Empire convention I managed to avoid the near riot over access to the weekend's limited edition Elvira Funko POP figure. (People waited in line for over 12 hours before local police were brought in to break up the line when Cassandra Peterson didn't arrive on Friday as scheduled.) In the screening room I did watch ten horror parody shorts from And You Films. I also watched the premiere screening of the first episode of the second season of the YouTube comedy/horror series "Blank My Life." I also caught the final five or so minutes of "Ash vs. Marvel Zombies & The DC Dead."

    Watched the Saints beat the Vikings.

    Comment


      SAO: Alicization episode 4 seeks to provide some fluid battle animation to compensate for the series' lack of action up to this point. But a few moments of nice animation don't diminish the episode's weak logic. I could understand Kirito being stunned and senseless if he was an amateur fighter. But he's an experienced warrior who has fought battles even in the real world.

      Watched UsaMaid episodes 3-5.

      Watched Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san episodes 3 & 4.

      Watched Otona no Bouguya-san episodes 2-4.

      The first two episodes of Tsurune surprised me quite a bit. Considering the show's visual design, tone, and production from KyoAni, it's easily described as Free with a different sport swapped in. However, even though I don't find my especially liking any of the primary characters, the show's production alone, including its direction, editing, and score, have a really wonderful balance and create a pleasantly surprising and unpredictable tone. I almost find myself liking this show in spite of myself.

      The first episode of Han-Gyaku-sei Million Arthur is (barely) passable sword and sorcery adventure comedy. And naturally I ended up watching it untranslated just a day before a translated version surfaced.

      Watched Gaikotsu Shoten'in Honda-san episodes 3-5.

      Watched Jingai-san no Yome episodes 5 & 6.

      I'm tentative over the first episode of Ingress. The first episode puts pieces on the board but doesn't reveal much about the larger game, so it's difficult to form a substantial impression of the episode or the series.

      Watched SSS Gridman episodes 2-4.

      I'd tentatively given Pig & Bunny Girl some credit for being moderately unique and original. However, episodes 4 & 5 make me partially swallow my praise because these two episodes situate the series as a degree of clone of Nishi Ishin's Monogatari series. Like Bakemonogatari, Bunny Girl revolves around a fairly milquetoast high school boy with prior experience of a supernatural occurrence who then encounters and assists girls plagued by odd circumstances. The primarily difference between the stories is that while the girls in the Monotagari series are plagued by supernatural haunting, the girls in Bunny Girl somehow manifest their own anxieties as supernatural afflictions. And on a side note, I still don't understand why Sakuta and Mai obsess so much over their relative ages and seniority when there's likely less than a year of age difference between them.

      Watched Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara episodes 3-5. Even with another character introduction, this show isn't quite picking up as I expected and hoped it would.

      Goblin Slayer episode 5 is fine, albeit with one minor caveat. What kind of swordsman doesn't comprehend that a heavy stick can serve as a functional weapon?

      Watched Slime episode 6.

      Watched Himote House episodes 3-5.

      Watched Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan episode 11.

      Watched Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama episodes 3-5.

      Watched Hugtto Precure episode 38.

      The second issue of Batman/The Maxx is once again joyous. It's precisely the sort of kooky satirical weirdness that made The Maxx so beloved. And the second issue is even more fun with the introduction of the equally crazy Joker, the mini-series' second issue is even more fun than the first. The first issue of DC's Hex Wives is a bit wordy yet, ironically, has rather little to say. It sets up an eternal conflict between a coven of ruthless witches and the male-dominated organization that opposes and attempts to extinguish them. Since this is only the first episode, I can excuse the lack of focus on the chicken & egg question of whether the witches are actually a deadly threat or whether they only turn violent upon provocation from the witch hunters. Regardless, the comic sets up a sort of Stepford Wives scenario. Ultimately I think I'll need to read a second issue to develop a more extensive sense of the series. Read Gideon Falls issue 7, The Silencer issue 10, Vampirella: Roses for the Dead issue 2, and Barbarella issue 11. Black Hammer: Age of Doom issue 6 takes the story into an unexpected new direction. I'm conflicted over Rich Tommaso's art because it does fit the story well, but it's so simplified that even the golden age comics it's inspired by. The Whispering Dark mini-series has been heavily promoted as a Lovecraftian war story. I don't know whether the description is apt because the first issue presents itself very much as a modern day war story that ingratiates Christian guilt and the emotional trauma of warfare. So it's unclear, as yet, whether the story is dealing with “normal” rational and explainable horror or supernatural horror. The first issue is perfectly fine military drama but doesn't seem particularly unique. Cavewoman: Moving Day appears to be just a downtime transitional issue. I don't object to infrequent issues of this sort. But since Cavewoman comics only get released on an unreliable, periodic schedule, I'm more partial to action-oriented issues. Read the first two issues of Brian Ball & Trent Luther's zombie apocalypse comic series Rags. I've seen far worse indie comics, so on one hand Rags is commendable. But it's just not very enjoyable. Protagonist Regina Ragowski comes across as a bipolar, antagonistic, and highly selfish person. She does seem to suffer from some degree of PTSD, so perhaps her self-destructive and tantrum-prone behavior is justified, but even if natural, it's not pleasant. Furthermore, the first two comics carefully obfuscate exactly what wartime trauma Regina experienced, so readers have no idea whether she's a sympathetic character or an irresponsible coward. I can help but make comparison to Terry Moore's recent Motor Girl comic mini-series that presented a far more sympathetic and engaging female war veteran suffering from PTSD. So the series protagonist's rapid and bipolar mood swings and self-absorbed attitude are a turn off. Moreover, the graphic art of Rags, provided by Luigi Teruel, reminds me of Hiroya Oku's Gantz. On first impression, it's highly detailed and realistic. But on closer inspection it feels largely scanned or traced rather than drawn. I'm a fan of T&A. I collect Cavewoman comics. I like guns against Zombies. I watch films like Daylight's End, which could almost be an inspiration for this comic series. But Rags just left me cold. I'll acknowledge its technical prowess, but it's not enjoyable to read.

      Continued in next post.

      Comment


        Continued from above.

        Co-writer/directors Christopher Caldwell & Zeek Earl's sci-fi thriller Prospect feels, in many ways, like a throwback to ambitious but relatively low budget and low-tech 70's sci-fi films including Star Wars, Logan's Run, and Zardoz. The film presents an expansive, lived-in, worn out universe of 1960s era simple but functional technology and practical fashion. The movie also admirably hides its low budget beneath strong cinematography, competent acting and writing, and a lot of creative world-building. From a technical and cinematic perspective, the movie is an impressive accomplishment because it's an entirely believable, serious and dramatic space opera. From a more practical and pragmatic viewer perspective, the movie is small, its story relatively enclosed and low-stakes, so it's not likely to be especially fondly remembered by viewers outside of hardcore cinephiles and sci-fi geeks.

        Perhaps as a combination of my own weariness and the comfort of the reclining seats, I must first concede that I periodically drifted in and out of consciousness during the first hour of the 2018 Suspiria. I'm confident that I never missed any full scenes and certainly no important plot points. But I may have missed some cuts, in part because the film is edited maniacally with an exuberant number of cuts. As already confirmed by other critics, writer David Kajganich & director Luca Guadagnino reimagining of Suspiria is a remake by only the most loose definition. The film is a ground-up reinterpretation of Argento's original, almost completely different in style. So comparing Suspiria 2018 to 1977 is pointless outside of academic exercise. Suspiria (2018) is its own unique film. But identical to the original, the reboot is once again captured nightmare logic. Nothing exactly coherently makes sense; the linear narrative makes sense only in broad strokes. And I'm okay with that existence. The movie is the most visually dynamic I've seen in ages. The film includes shots I'm sure I'll never forget. I'll concede that at least an hour of the film could be excised without loss to the narrative. But this movie is about tone. I think any anyone angry that the film doesn't strive for a lean, concise throughline is approaching the film with confused expectations. I'll concede also that the film's climax is abrupt and lacks clear predication. But as a viewer who's always been underwhelmed by the climax of the original, I appreciated the far more substantial and outré climax of this iteration. I also like the epilogue's means of ironically humanizing the mother of sighs.

        In a literal sense, director David Gordon Green's Halloween is practically exactly what one would expect from a 2018 reboot of Carpenter's 1978 film. Halloween 2018 is at once homage to and sequel to the original, updating details and principles to contemporary expectations. Not only does the sequel have roughly double the body count of the original, The Shape has been revised into less of a targeted stalker and more of a collective social boogeyman, an embodiment of random violence that can strike anyone from anywhere at any time. The film also elevates and escalates the traditional concept of the final girl from one motivated by desperate necessity to a slightly more palatable and socially acceptable parallel and rival to the monstrous serial killer, someone who is equally ruthless, devious, and manipulative. To that extent, the film is only a bit disappointing because it only amps up its tension during the final act when the role of hunter and hunted becomes ambiguous.

        After Titans episode 1 laid on the graphic violence a bit heavily to proclaim loudly its “adult” demographic, the second episode largely turned instead to language and a distractingly emphasized repetition of the “F” word to establish its tone. By the third episode the series seemed to have finally settled into itself, and despite its small hiccups, I find myself enjoying it quite a bit. The introduction of the Doom Patrol in episode 4 is interesting because it drastically expands the scope of the show's weirdness. However, the depicted Doom Patrol members lacking Garfield (“Beast Boy”) feel like a largely redundant family. Each member has his or her own unique personality, but all of them have essentially the same back story and same personality conflict, so I really wonder if and how they'll be able to support a show of their own without the series quickly feeling leaden. Episode five, at last, begins to feel as if it's significantly moving the story forward rather than just arranging pieces.

        The first episode of Daredevil season 3 neatly picks up where Defenders ended. This dramatic transitional episode is both fine and necessary, but a prolonged emphasis on this sort of mopey drama is not what interests me about Daredevil. Shoehorning in some action seems obligatory, but I have to wonder if it harms the story's credibility. Hair of the dog may help a hangover, but getting beat up more doesn't help heal a beating. Episodes 2 & 3 still have the same character, and thus the same weakness, as the season's first episode. The series is laying the angst on not with a trowel but with a shovel. And Matt's action scenes still feel largely tacked on, as if filling an obligatory call for one fight scene per episode. I'm also bothered because perhaps my memory is faulty and I don't remember it, but Karen's revelation about her brother feels like it comes out of left field. Similarly, I was shocked and perturbed by the abrupt introduction of Fogy's large family. Obviously he had to have a family. But after two full seasons with no mention of them whatsoever, abruptly revealing that the entire family was actually living just minutes away feels like a massive contrived plot device.

        Watched the Patriots beat the Bills. The Bucs put up a valliant effort but were outplayed by the Panthers. Watched the Saints end the Rams' winning streak. Watched the Patriots also beat the Packers. Watched the Titans defeat the Cowboys. Watched the Steelers crush the Panthers on Thursday night.

        Comment


          Goblin Slayer episode 6 is fine. It's a bit more interesting due to what it suggests for the future than for what it delivers in the body of the episode.

          Finished off Wakaokami wa Shougakusei episodes 19-24.

          Watched Slime episode 7.

          Watched Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-sa episode 6.

          Watched Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san 5 & 6.

          I'm really a bit flummoxed over how to approach a response to the Liz to Aoi Tori anime feature. Seemingly for good reason, the movie is actually a Hibike! Euphonium movie, but it's not advertised as such. Plenty of anime franchises have spawned spin-off OVAs or movies that differ in tone from the original series. Hibike! Euphonium is already a “series about nothing” slice of life drama. In a certain sense the Liz to Aoi Tori movie escalates the franchise's thematic tone. But in another sense this movie is much more focused than its surrounding franchise. Liz to Aoi Tori attempts to illustrate adolescent uncertainty. The movie is an exceptionally low key drama with no significant tension, no real conflict, no exciting climax. The movie revolves around high school girls Mizore & Nozomi and, essentially, Mizore's fear that a distance will develop between herself and her best friend. The film is about the two girls gathering the courage to speak to each other about their honest feelings. So the film largely consists of artistically rendered shots of high school girls walking, eating lunch, playing musical instruments, opening and closing doors, having idle conversations, and just passing time. In a sense, the film can be called Kyoto Animation's rendition of Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart, except KyoAni's film is even more subdued and mundane than Ghibli's slife of life effort. Liz to Aoi Tori earns special credit for deliberately using its languid pace in conjunction with an unusual, delicate soundtrack to evoke a sense of uncertain despair. Both Mizore and Nozomi are afraid of some unspoken Sword of Damocles that both are afraid will abruptly interrupt their peaceful, comfortable routines. The movie is certain to bore viewers expecting action of virtually any sort. But I found the slow, precise character study beautiful and fascinating. And I don't actually like the surround Hibike! Eufonium franchise.

          Caught up on Golden Kamuy episodes 14-18. The goofiness has receded in these episodes, but it's still present, occasionally rearing its head to peek out.

          Watched Pig & Bunny Girl episodes 6 & 7.

          I'm going to discuss some spoilers about SAO: Alicization episodes 5 & 6.


          Read an advance preview of the first issue of writer Kieron Gillen and illustrator Stephanie Hans' forthcoming fantasy thriller comic series Die. It's a morose American adaptation of the "isekai" concept that Japanese comics have been mining for decades. It also feels heavy handed and forced. It's clearly trying to be weighty, deathly serious, and deeply melancholy while also trying to pull a Stranger Things style nostalgia pull from the early 90s instead of early 80s. The writing, however, doesn't feel natural or organic. Likewise, the visual art tries so hard to be gothic and moody that it instead just ends up looking drab despite its use of vivid color. Image is heavily promoting this series, but the first issue rolled a one for me.

          Read the first issue of writer Sam Humphries' new fantasy comic series Blackbird. The art by illustrator Jen Bartel is serviceable but never feels exceptional. The writing is choppy. Not only does the first issue attempt to cover ten years worth of the protagonist's life in only a handful of pages, the entire comic feels like a montage. The storytelling doesn't even feel like it has complete scenes and scenarios. The comic reads like a series of edited highlights lacking context. What's worse, the protagonist is a whiny millennial with an unjustified vicitimization complex. For unexplained reason, she seems to believe that life owes her some mystical epiphany. So she lashes out at everyone around her in frustration because the world isn't kind enough to her. Perhaps I'm just out of touch with this character's personality due to a generation gap, but I just can't sympathize with her at all. Thus this comic seems to me as though it had potential at an early stage of its development. But the comic that got published is rushed, unsatisfying, and unfulfilling.

          For better or worse, Overlord is not quite a bigger budget remake of Frankenstein's Army. While the film certainly has parallels to the 2013 indie monster film, it equally parallels 1996's From Dusk Till Dawn. The first two-thirds of Overlord consists of a brutal, harrowing, and occasionally slightly stupid WWII combat movie. The final third shifts gears, transforming into a fairly gory zombie horror. From beginning to end Overlord never descends into the camp territory of Frankenstein's Army. It's tonally far closer to the exaggerated yet still dramatic Inglourious Basterds (2009). Protagonist Ed Boyce's pacifism feels a bit heavy handed early in the film. It feels as though it almost weighs down the film. But at the same time, it's also necessary both to allow his character growth from bystander to hero and also to serve as a ballast for the brutality that surrounds him. Even when little is happening, the film manages to sustain a moderate level of tension throughout, so it feels briskly paced. However, especially compared to the similar Frankenstein's Army, Overlord never quite utilizes its zombie horror to the extent it could have.

          Watched Daredevil episodes 4-6. On one hand this third season is certainly dramatic and these episodes are commendably tense. Yet this season still distinctly feels as though it's written to fill a pre-determined 13 episodes rather than the episode length determined by the story. This third season still feels as if it's got twice as many episodes as it has story development.

          Watched the second half of the Bucs' pitiful loss to the Redskins. Watched the Packers beat the Dolphins, and the Cowboys beat the Eagles. Watched the Giants edge out the 49ers.

          Comment


            Read a handful of comics. Mage: Hero Denied issue 13 now really feels like what I was hoping this series would have been from the outset. I'm still tentative after the second issue of Patience! Conviction! Revenge! In this second issue Renny attempts to break up a robot brothel, but his plan gets interrupted. Once again, some of the dialogue and some of the scenes are amusing, but the larger story doesn't feel as though it's advancing. Read Ninja-K issues 12 & 13. In recent years publisher Valiant Comics seems to enjoy repeatedly destroying character Colin King's sense of identity and security. Black Hammer: Age of Doom issue 7 is an interesting meta-fictional issue. Quantum Age issue 4 becomes increasingly interesting as its connection to the larger Black Hammer universe becomes more prominent. Just like the first issue, The Whispering Dark issue 2 is a very strong war thriller, but so far its sense of horror continues to emerge almost entirely from the conditions of war rather than from any supposed Lovecraftian source. Gideon Falls issue 8 continues to unfold at an exceedingly slow pace. But the way this issue reinforces the story's surprise twists with time is intriguing.

            Watched the first two short episodes of the Shudder streaming original horror mini-series Deadwax. The show is reminiscent of both “Devil's Vinyl” episode of Constantine (2014) and John Carpenter's “Cigarette Burns” first Masters of Horror episode.

            Considering that The Night Comes for Us was directed by Timo Tjahjanto, one half of the “Timo brothers” who directed Headshot (2016), I'm pleased and relieved to say that Night Comes For Us fully is the movie that viewers hoped and expected Headshot to be. Perhaps most comparable to The Raid 2, Night Comes for Us isn't truly non-stop action, but it's close. More significantly, Night Comes for Us actually manages to surpass the intense graphic brutality of The Raid 2. In fact, most outright horror movies aren't even remotely as grotesquely gory as this martial arts picture is. The Night Comes for Us contains several scenes that are literally wince-inducing in their explicit visceral violence. As is the case with most martial arts movies, the story is minimal and moreover makes even less plausible sense once the bodies start piling up. But as is the case with most films of its ilk, the story exists only as a justification for a lengthy sequence of bone-breaking , intestine spewing explosive action scenes involving kung fu and muay thai fighting, guns, a wide assortment of knives and machetes, and whatever improvised weapons are handy, including meat hooks, cow bones, iron bars, cue balls, and cars.

            I thought Peter Jackson's King Kong was a wildly self-indulgent movie until I watched Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell? Running at over two hours long, the picture could and arguably should be pared down by at least forty minutes. The movie has atmosphere to spare and a narrative that has a lot of moving parts but actually isn't complicated at all. So the film is exceedingly long seemingly only because its director didn't want to excise any of his footage. The movie is a giddy, goofy musical without the singing. Every scene feels like a choreographed dance. The characters are all filled with jubilant gusto, and eventually the film climaxes in a ridiculous satirical bloodbath yazkuza battle reminiscent of the similarly absurd climactic sword battle of Takeshi Miike's Izo. As a send-up of coming of age movies, films about making movies, and traditional yakuza thrillers, the film fires on all cylinders, but, in fact, in this case a bit much may actually be too much.

            Since it's been a few years since I watched James Bickert's Dear God No I'm not presently confident enough to say whether that film or its sequel, Frankenstein Created Bikers, is more coherent and focused. Frankenstein Created Bikers has a loose semblance of a narrative. More accurately, it's a scenario set-up that allows the cast and the film latitude to do virtually anything imaginable. So the movie grabs its opportunity with both hands and indulges in the most wildly, creatively trashy, offensive exploitation excess I've seen in years. The film's dialogue is largely a parodical hybrid of hard boiled noir and southern drawl obscenity resulting in a non-stop assault of hilariously creative and offensive phrases that rightly shouldn't ever be spoken in any company. The movie is an ultimate midnight drive-in guilty pleasure, an ultimate psychotronic trash picture with absolutely no aspirations to high art or any sort of thoughtful commentary. The film is simply Bickert and crew taking inspiration from grindhouse trash cinema and trying to see how far they can push the envelope. And I thank God for their effort because the result is wildly, grotesquely, offensively and stupidly fun.

            Despite being a moderately devoted fan of horror movies, I'll readily admit that the scope of my exposure is partially limited. For example, I'd never watched 1984's C.H.U.D. until this past week. Partially on the strength of its literal title alone, the movie has some degree of cult credibility, but it's actually not especially good. To its credit, the film does avoid camp, but it never manages to create any tension or fear despite its best efforts. The movie feels distinctly comparable to Larry Cohen's earlier monster in the city film Q: The Winged Serpent. That film also was largely a thriller about a detective piecing together a case to believe in the existence of a man-eating monster on the prowl. But despite having a bit less gore, Q still managed to create more tension. Director Douglas Cheek's C.H.U.D. seems to borrow the structure of Q but lack the understanding of how and why that earlier film's pieces fit together as well as they did to create a greater whole.

            Caught the fourth quarter of the crazy Rams victory over the Chiefs.

            Comment


              Goblin Slayer episode 7 is an intense episode reminiscent of the first one. And its final shot is almost laughably reminiscent of a most memorable aspect of Evangelion episode 24. Also watched episodes 8 & 9.

              Slime episode 8 may be necessary for the story advancement, but it's still not a terribly interesting episode. Thankfully episode 9 compensated. Also watched episode 10.

              Watched Jingai no Yome-san episodes 7-9.

              Watched SSS.Gridman episodes 5-7.

              The final few minutes of Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara episode 6 are visually beautiful because of their use of unusual shots and fantastic use of color. However, on the whole, episodes 6 & 7 still don't feel very interesting.

              UsaMaid episodes 6 & 7 are fine. The production values in episode 8 take a dive although the episode does its best to hide the flaws. But the art design is more simpified and character design is frequently off model.

              Honda-san episode 7 is interesting in two respects. I didn't realize that he was publishing his daily life as manga while he was still working at the bookstore. Furthermore him being recognized by a reader at the drinking party was very funny. Also watched episode 8.

              I'm glad that Hugtto Precure episodes 39 & 40 finally explain the mystery that the show has been keeping from the first episode.

              Watched Himote House episodes 6 & 7.

              Hora, Mimi ga Mieteru yo 3-8.

              Watched Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san episodes 7 & 8.

              SAO Alicization episodes 7 & 8 distinctly set up Kirito as a Neo in the Matrix sort of character, so I hope that the future story actually bothers to make use of the idea that Kirito understand the potential to become the most powerful being in his new world.

              Watched Zombieland Saga episodes 3 & 4. How are zombies out of breath after performing if they don't breath in the first place?

              Watched Pig & Bunny Girl episode 8.

              Mamoru Hosoda's Mirai no Mirai is a personal film to a fault. Even a viewer entirely unaware of the background of the movie could still easily guess that much of the film is autobiographical. A personal film would still be just fine. However, the problem and weakness of Mirai is that writer/director Hosoda invested so much of himself and his personality into the film that he lost sight of a sense of purpose and lost track of the audience. Specifically, Mirai revolves around numerous themes but never concentrates on and develops any of them. Mirai is a film about family. Its themes and concepts include the elder child overcoming jealousy of his infant sister and the sense of losing his parents' attention to the new baby, the idea that family members never truly die as long as the family continues to live, the concept that humans are always growing and maturing throughout life, the instinctive human need for family and relationships for both companionship and to establish self-identity, the responsibility of parents and exactly what constitutes a “good” parent, the contemporary shifting gender roles within Japanese society, and the multi-generational cyclical story of human life. All of these unique but related themes are prominent within the movie, but the film never satisfactorily develops any of them, so at end credits the movie seems visually impressive but still emotionally a bit distant, superficial, and hollow. Sadly, the movie has a strong story but doesn't seem to know what it wants to say.

              Watched Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama episode 6.

              Watched Daredevil season 3 episode 7.

              Titans episodes 6-8 are a bit shocking in the respect that the "heroic" Titans are so committedly brutal that perceiving them as anti-heroes may actually be generous.

              Watched the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Thanksgiving evening and the Saints beat the Falcons on Thanksgiving night. Watched the Bucs beat the 49ers. And watched the Vikings outplay the Packers, and the Texans beat the Titans. The Chargers beat the Steelers in a crazy ending. Watched the Eagles beat the Redskins.

              Comment


                The Nausicaa joke in Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san episode 9 was unexpected and amusing.

                Watched Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama episodes 7-9.

                Hugtto Precure episode 41 is an exceptionally good one because it fully exploits the story and character depth that the show has created. Episode 42 is also a strong episode and a historical landmark, if only temporarily.

                Watched Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan episode 12.

                Watched UsaMaid episodes 9 & 10.

                Watched Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san episode 9.

                Watched the first short episode of Barbapapa just to see what it's like. While visually the show doesn't immediately look like conventional anime, it distinctly exhibits its status as a Topcraft anime via its especially fluid animation quality.

                I'm glad that by episode 9 Pig & Bunny Girl has strong, well-established characterizations because episodes 9 & 10 definitively reveal that the series' concept is simply running down a checklist of shounen sitcom anime tropes.

                watched SSS.Gridman episodes 8 & 9.

                Watched Jingai no Yome-san episode 10.

                Watched Horamimi episodes 9 & 10.

                I'm conflicted over how much praise I should levy on FLCL Progressive, torn between very little and some. The series earns some credit for being a moderately logical linear sequel to the 2000 series, but in every respect it's a lesser and derivative production. Seemingly by design the characters are less unique, less conflicted, less wacky. Just as most anime deal with the emotional and philosophical troubles of adolescence, FLCL Progressive does as well, but “Progressive” doesn't feel like a visual embodiment of seat-of-the-pants rock and roll uncertainty that the original series did. In fact, sadly, much of “Progressive” literally recycles the original series' Pillows' tracks as background music rather than as a complementary thematic aspect of the storytelling. “Progressive” introduces the new character Jinyu, but unfortunately she's a parallel to Evangelion Rebuild's Mari. She actually contributes nothing to the story and has no lasting influence on any of the other characters. To its credit, “Progressive” is nicely animated, and it does have some vividly realized animation sequences and offbeat, unexpected oddity. But it simply feels exactly like what critics feared it would be: a (largely) soulless retread of the original that lacking the renegade, off the rails spirit of the original. “Progressive” absolutely could have been much worse. But calling it merely passable is faint praise.

                I have much more respect for the first episode of FLCL Alternative because it's not trying to catch the same lightning in the same bottle. “Alternative” is distinctly still FLCL but with its own identity. This is as much a sequel as it is a reinvention, a new take on the franchise with a new perspective instead of a perspective that's trying to emulate the original series.

                I'm not at all opposed to filler or transitional episodes that take a breath between story arcs, but Goblin Slayer episode 10 feels useless becasue its literally retreads scenarios and information that the show has already gone out of its way to establish.

                The second Hana no Asuka-gumi OVA is a bit different in tone & style than the first. The first OVA is an atypically violent yankee action OVA. The second episode is a bit more conventional in several respects yet unusual in one other way. The second OVA is a bit more dramatic than the first. While the first OVA revolved around Asuka herself, the second OVA is about an organized battle tournament between the local girl gangs, so the episode has more of an ensemble cast focus rather than concentrating on just one protagonist. The episode also spends considerable time depicting Asuka's home life and her past. That's not to say that the 52-minute second OVA lacks action, but the fights are more typical bososozoku-style street brawls than the mortal combat of the first OVA. The second OVA also exhibits a distinct undercurrent of horror influence. There's nothing supernatural about the episode. But it distinctly uses the camera angles and weighted timing typical of horror movies to generate suspense. Ultimately the second episode is stylistically comparable to other female gang OVAs like the Taiman Blues series or a non-comical sibling to Batsu to Terry or Angel Densetsu. Asuka is still tough as nails in the second OVA, but she's not quite as vicious as she was in the first episode.

                Watched Slime episode 10.

                Watched the Titans crush the Jaguars on Thursday night. The Bucs just fell apart in the second-half during their loss to the Saints. I'm disappointed that after five years of expericene our QB still routinely makes rookie mistakes. Watched the Cowboys beat the Eagles in overtime. Watched the Bears beat the Rams.

                Comment


                  Watched the fourth Hozuki no Reitetsu OAD.

                  The publisher characterizations in Honda-san episode 10 were very amusing with the highlight being the description of "Haku-S-Sha."

                  Tortured myself with the atrocious first two episodes of Hero Mask. The first episode is visually a bit ugly, even more cliche, and absolutely the most boring anime I've watched in ages. But the first episode didn't prepare me at all for how abysmally, dismally awful the second episode would be. There are so many logical problems in just the second episode alone that literally trying to list them is more effort than the show deserves. Just, for example: a supposedly dead convict shows up, kills a dozen cops, beats up the hero then lures the hero to yet another trap. Yet repeatedly the only question the hero and his sidekick ask the killer is the nature of the digital disguise mask he uses. Do they question why this guy is still alive? No. Do they question where he came from? No. What he's been doing? No. How he now appears to be superhumanly strong and virtually immortal? No. Why he's obsessed with this particular cop? No. The only thing they ask about is his disguise kit. To put it simply, this show just stinks of a script that a Japanese writer with no more familiarity with American culture than having seen a few American action movies thought would appeal to a mainstream American audience.

                  Watched Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san episode 10.

                  Watched Otona no Bouguya-san episodes 5-10.

                  Watched Himote House episodes 8-10.

                  Watched the sixth Welcome to Japari Park short.

                  Particularly as of episode 10, Sargatanas is creeping up toward being the best character in Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama.

                  Watched Jingai-san no Yome episode 11.

                  Watched Golden Kamuy episodes 19-22.

                  Watched HoraMimi episode 11.

                  Watched Zombieland Saga episode 5.

                  I suspect that with the possible exception of very knowledgeable Spider-Man die-hards, most viewers watching Into the Spider-Verse will be better served by knowing little detail about the film. So I'll keep my observations broad and spoiler-free. The film is praiseworthy in two primary respects. It's clearly a product of creators who were mindful of crafting a quality film. Every aspect of the movie reflects screenwriters and directors that knew the material thoroughly and knew exactly what kind of film they wanted to make. Every aspect of the film's development carefully constructed to be effective and affecting. The movie is a multitude of cogs and gears that all mesh together seamlessly and work together fluidly to create a perfect machine. Moreover, the movie deftly takes advantage of its medium. Virtually like no other film, Into the Spider-Verse embraces and exploits its animated medium to consecutively create scenes that wouldn't be possible in live-action regardless of visual effects. Spider-Verse has been compared to, and by some critics said to surpass Infinity War. In my perspective Spider-Verse isn't comparable to any other MCU movie because the tones of the movies are too dissimilar. This animated Spider-Man movie has its own unique identity and atmosphere. The way it creates pathos through characterization is completely different than the feel of any live-action film attempting the same story beats. Narratively Spider-Verse tips its hat with enough nods and references to gratify both the casual average viewer and the initiated comic-book junkie. The film also treats viewers with at least one unexpected tweak. But outside of narrow, specific instances, the movie's story doesn't do anything especially exceptional or surprising. Rather, it just strives to do very well the conventional story beats that it uses. The negatives of the film are few and minor. Since the cast is large, some of the supporting characters get a bit short-shrifted. I don't know whether the fault was just the screening I saw, but the early sequence in which Miles grabs breakfast before leaving his house to walk to school exhibited noticeably choppy animation. And during a few occasions, particularly the chase scene exiting the cemetery and the battle inside Aunt May's house exhibit some confusing Bay-esque editing.

                  Watched the Seahawks beat the Vikings. Watched the Chargers pull out an amazing all-or-nothing win over the Chiefs.

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                    Watched Zombieland Saga episodes 6-11. I'm a bit glad to see that although its original conceit periodically seems to fade into the background, the show never completely forgets that its core idea is to use (zombie) locodols to promote tourism.

                    In two sittings I caught up on the Thunderbolt Fantasy movie and second season episodes 1-11. The second season feels much smaller in scope, and it definitely has a smaller cast, yet it still feels equally complex in part due to it not needing to hide aspects of its characters' personalities the way the first season needed to.

                    Watched Slime episode 12.

                    Like most people roughly my age, I grew up listening to Queen's music. I think I bought my first Queen album in 1987, and I bought the Miracle & Innuendo albums the day they were released. So I'm happy that I made it out to see Bohemian Rhapsody before it ended its theatrical run. The film is a bit more accurately a biopic of Freddie Mercury than Queen, as the film provides virtually no insight into the lives of Brian May, Roger Taylor, or John Deacon outside of the band's activity. And despite the film's length, it excludes a tremendous amount of history by necessity. And the movie actually even isn't so much a biography of Freddie Mercury as it is a love letter to one of the modern era's greatest artists. The heartfelt and very emotional film pays tribute to Mercury even-handedly, never lavishing great praise on him nor delving into the darkest pits of his personality. In fact, the first time the film even approaches controversy it literally cuts away. The movie lacks a lot of detail and deliberately stays far away from analysis. In fact, it even manipulates history just a bit to achieve its ends. For example, John Deacon joins the band earlier in the film than he actually did. The film plays up the hiatus that recording Mercury's solo albums caused for the band although historically Mercury's solo albums didn't actually deter the development or release of any Queen albums. Freddie informed the band of his affliction earlier in the film than he did in real life. And the film purposefully injects “Who Wants to Live Forever” chronologically several years before the song was written. The movie's purpose is to make viewers love Freddie Mercury and Queen, minor warts and all, and it succeeds fabulously.

                    Watched most of the Texans vs Jets and all of the Browns vs Broncos Saturday games. Watched the Ravens beat the Bucs. Watched the Steelers beat the Patriots in a game that really lived up to its hype. Watched the Eagles beat the Rams.

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                      The cliffhanger plot twist of Pig & Bunny Girl episode 11 is just dumb. Wait. I'll withdraw that assessment and say instead that it strains credibility and more importantly undermines the rationale of the entire episode, to say nothing of a sub-plot that's been running through the prior ten episodes.

                      Although it's not a flawless show, I quite highly recommend the 2001 Grappler Baki TV series for action and martial arts anime fans. The 2018 sequel series, however, is a very different matter. While it bears some similarities with its predecessor series, it's also a very heavily compromised series. Baki (2018) is still grotesquely violent. However, despite still being essentially a tournament anime, as the first series was, the 2018 series is more of a soap opera tournament. The storytelling has a vague idea of purpose but doesn't seem to know how to develop its theme. The story is about a number of escaped death row convicts participating in a no-rules street fight tournament against Tokyo's most skilled martial artists. The convicts seek “to know defeat” while the heroes, presumably, want to hone their combat skills. Except the convicts repeatedly refuse to acknowledge when they've been beaten, and the “heroes” seem to also lack a clear perception of whatever their goal is. With the exception of Baki, none of the other fighters are willing to kill their opponents, yet the opponents see their matches as “victory or death” fights. So the same pattern of heroes beat the snot out of the criminals before the criminals turn the tables because the hero refuses to deliver a coup de grace repeats over and over again to the point of boring redundancy. So the storytelling then switches gears by introducing and focusing on a new character for a few episodes until the character literally vanishes from the story without explanation. (Granted, several episodes later he re-appears, as if the script realized that it had forgotten about him.) The second half of the 2018 series then changes from being predictably redundant to being largely unfocused because the second half of the series abruptly begins introducing and re-introducing multiple characters into the mix. Literally, within a span of just a few episodes, there's a half dozen new characters that literally come out of nowhere. And while the storytelling is arbitrary and uneven, the animation quality is also sub par. Art design generally stays on model, but fight animation is rather limited. Although not literally sequential still frames, the show's fight animation does consist mostly of key shots with minimal in-between animation. Like manga panels, the fight animation primarily consists of a fist then a flash of light then a close-up of the fist connecting. Viewers see very little of the arm or leg actually moving.

                      Primarily because I'd already watched the dozen broadcast episodes, I finally committed myself to finishing off the final four web-broadcast concluding episodes of Satsuriku no Tenshi. I'll give small credit to episode 15 for its attempt to explicate some philosophical and symbolic meaning behind the story, but an “attempt” doesn't mean the effort was successful. This was a bad show from beginning to end. Particularly the final four episodes are frustrating in part because they're obviously too long. The inclusion of a time-filler montage music video and the excessively long and pointless epilogue demonstrate that the final four episodes only had three episodes worth of story and added a lot of padding to fill the extra running time. Furthermore, the very need for an additional three or four episodes just to finish telling the primary story suggests that the show's pre-production planning was lacking. And even with the additional four episodes, multiple plot threads never get explained. The priest only gets the barest minimum of context. And a brand new motivation for Danny gets introduced literally at the last second and obviously never thoroughly explained.

                      Even after watching the first two episodes of Saintia Shou, I still don't have a clear impression of it. The Gonzo animation, rather than Toei animation, looks like a contemporary rendition of Kurumada's typical character design. It's comparable to St. Seiya Omega. But the animation quality is very slightly and subtly better than typical Toei produced shounen anime. The pacing, however, is so lightning quick that a number of plot developments don't seem to make logical sense. But the show breezes by them so quickly that the characters, at least, never seem to even notice the incongruities.

                      Read the 8-issue second Cavewoman comic series, "Rain" along with the series latest one-shot, "Rampage." I really don't mind the gratuitous T&A catfight-oriented simplicity of Devon Massey's contemporary Cavewoman comics, but I have to admit that I miss the far more substantial and thoughtful nuance of creator Budd Root's original stories. While Budd Root's original stories actually considered what people's personalities and social relationships would be like if a small town was suddenly transported back in time to the age of dinosaurs, Massey's comics are literally grindhouse smut preoccupied with depicting Meriem topless and either punching or stabbing things: dinosaurs, zombies, mummies, werewolves, aliens. On one hand, Head Lopper issue 10 is the series most epic in scale so far. However, the issue also still suffers the same weakness that all of the volume 2 and 3 issues have so far. Occasionally the panel layout, transitions, and art are highly confusing, leaving readers struggling to figure out what's happening. Once again, Taarna issue 3 is gorgeous looking but largely incomprehensible because the art and layout doesn't effectively visually explain what's going on. I'm a bit disappointed with Mage III issue 14 because it's exhibiting exactly the same storytelling weakness that typified the prior series. Instead of foreshadowing and laying groundwork for tragedy, the suggestion of the hero's weakness and fall appear too abruptly. Read Black Hammer: Quantum Age issue 5 and the Cthu-Louise one-shot. Both are fine, if unremarkable.

                      Watched Titans episodes 9 & 10. Granted, episode 9 isn't bad. But I didn't think a Hawk & Dove origin episode was necessary before I watched it. And I still believe the same after watching it.

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                        The first season of Hora, Mimi ga Mieteru yo is an odd creature, not only because it's clearly a Chinese comic adapted for a partially Japanese audience. The story seemed to begin as a situational comedy about a man who discovers that his cat can transform into a human. But by its end the story is a BL drama between a human adult and an innocent under-age boy who's half feline.

                        Finished watching Ani ni Tsukeru Kusuri wa Nai 2 episodes 15-24. The second season still has too little Shi Miao.

                        Watched the final episode of Jingai-san no Yome.

                        Watched SAO: Alicization episodes 9-11.

                        Golden Kamuy episode 23 is an exciting spectacle episode.

                        Watched UsaMaid episode 11.

                        Finished off what appears probably to be the first season of Zombieland Saga.

                        Watched Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san episode 11.

                        The first episode of Syfy's comic book adaptation Deadly Class left a bad taste in my mouth because much of the episode wants to have its cake and eat it too. The setting is a literal underground school to train teenage assassins. The first quarter of the show repeatedly emphasizes that the school is a refuge for outsiders, outcasts, the downtrodden and oppressed to learn to fight back against “the man.” However, as soon as the protagonist kid enrolls, he's ostracized for being a murderer because he previously burned down his halfway house with its other residents inside. Logically he should be the ideal student instead of the ostracized outsider. Furthermore, the school has its variety of cliques lead by the elite groups of children of politicians & law-enforcement officials. What? If the school is supposedly for the oppressed and marginalized, why is the student strata topped by wealthy, privileged elites? Why does the entire student body that's supposed to be made of up kids with similar background and experience segregate and immediately embrace exactly what they're all opposed to? Why do kids training to be killers reject a student with a proven killer instinct? Despite being described ad nauseam as a unique school deliberately culled and maintained to be anything but ordinary, "King's Dominion" turns out to be exactly like every other average high school, merely with a difference in curriculum. The first episode of Titans immediately engrossed and intrigued me. The first episode of Deadly Class comes across like a poorly thought-out Harry Potter knock-off.

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                          Watched Pig & Bunny Girl episode 12.

                          Watched Himote House episode 11.

                          Watched Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san episode 11.

                          As of Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara episodes 8 & 9 I'm still watching the show strictly out of grit and respect for P.A. Works excellent prior similar romance/dramas. Unfortunately, this one just isn't working because it lacks both tension and characterization. The story is a slice of high school life drama, so there's no real external conflict or tension. The conflict is supposed to come from Hitomi's inability to see color, which is bluntly symbolic of her disengagement from life. The problem arises primarily that the show does absolutely nothing to explain or illustrate her detachment. Hitomi is slightly more aloof than other characters, but nothing about her personality demonstrates that she's so depressed or bored with life that the world has literally lost its color for her. Moreover, episode 9 abruptly includes a single-sentence hint that her inability to see color is not a recent development but rather an affliction she's had from childhood, suggesting that it's not a manifestation or representation of her psychology but actually a medical (or magical) affliction, which would thereby render it pointless as a literary symbol. Furthermore, the show sets up multiple unrequited love relationships, but none of the relationships are meaningful because the show does absolutely nothing to explain why any particular character is attracted to any other particular character. As viewers, we can't empathize with character's infatuations if we don't understand them. Then, as if the show itself recognized its flaws, episode ten suddenly begins to address both of the narrative lapses that I identified within the prior episodes. But the effort now feels too late to make a turnaround. Watched up to episode 12.

                          Watched Beelzebub-jou episode 11.

                          The final episode of UchiMaid unexpectedly delves into some very moving emotional honesty.

                          Finished off Tonari no Kyuketsuki-san episode 12.

                          I'm conflicted over SAO: Alicization episode 12 because it doesn't entirely fulfill its cliffhanger promise, but it has a valid narrative reason for doing so.

                          Watched Goblin Slayer episode 11.

                          I thought that Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman was passable. Adequate. Not bad, but a film with no noteworthy strengths. So on that scale I rate James Wan's Aquaman a rank above Wonder Woman, thereby placing the film in the company of Marvel's mid-tier films. Aquaman, following upon Wonder Woman, seems to decisively prove that Zac Snyder's grim & gritty vision of the DCU was incorrect. In tone, Aquaman takes another step closer to Disney's Marvel movies. Aquaman never quite reaches the pithy heights of the best MCU characterizations and relationships, nor does the film even seriously attempt to reach the seriousness of introspection and pathos of the best MCU movies. But Aquaman does have two noteworthy characteristics in its favor. It acknowledges that it needs a sense of fun. And moreover its visual execution allows its staff to be creative. Particularly Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, and Nicole Kidman give themselves over to each other and the vision of the movie to create a playful epic. The relationship between Arthur & Mera evokes particularly the relationship between Indy Jones & Marion Ravenwood, and before them Charlie & Rose of The African Queen. Visually the movie knowingly (including arguably at least two nods to HPL) gives the audience exactly what they want to see. If the MCU can have its Wakanda, the DCU can match with its Atlantis. Part of the movie's fun is seeing how the pre-vis artists came up with fun and silly evolutions of the undersea theme. The movie is clearly designed to be a crowd pleaser, and it succeeds by meeting expectations but never threatening viewers' comfort zones or attempting to be anything more than cinematic comfort food. On a related note, the snippet of Pitbull slaughtering Toto's "Africa" is not only the worst aspect of the movie but one of the worst things in the history of mankind.

                          Watched Daredevil season 3 episodes 8-11.

                          Although Titans episode 11 does contain some gratifying comic book moments, the episode also feels as though it uses far more time than necessary to make its point. Watched the Saints narrowly outplay the Steelers.

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                            Slime episode 13 is a fun one because despite the common criticism that overpowered heroes drain suspense and tension, occasionally it's gratifying and fun to just see a monumental smackdown.

                            Watched the final episode of Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san.

                            Watched the final episode of Golden Kamuy season two.

                            Watched Himote House episode 12.

                            Hugtto Precure episode 43 wrapped up one of its ongoing subplots with respectful maturity. Also watched episodes 44 & 45.

                            Watched the final episode of Beelzebub-jou.

                            I'm conflicted over Rascal & Bunny Girl episode 13 because the episode has some good scenes but largely feels rushed and underdeveloped, as though the screenplay abruptly realized that it needed to wrap up the series in just one episode.

                            As much as I want to like SSSS.Gridman, after watching episodes 10-12 I have to recognize that large portions of the narrative are missing. In fact, the show introduces so many concepts and details that aren't explained that they distract the viewer and weaken the show.

                            Goblin Slayer episode 12 wraps up the series adequately because the show simply never aspired very highly. While it briefly teased the possibility of a grand, epic scale story, ultimately the series was content to strictly remain a very narrowly focused and small scale story.

                            Watched the fourth episode of the moderately odd children's anime series Cara to Otama Jakushi Shima.

                            Watched the very short first episode of the Flash anime series Kuroneko Monroe.

                            Watched the second episode of Okojo to Yamane. Since the episode is only 60 seconds, there's not much of it between the opening & ending credits sequences.

                            Watched the 9th episode of Zannen na Ikimono Jiten.

                            The Monster Strike side-story ONA Hanasaku Kizuna no Romantan is the most oversimplified, childish anime I've seen since Lost Song. But in this case, since this is just a short stand-alone promotion, its simplicity is excusable.

                            Reflecting upon Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara episode 13 makes me believe that the show’s intention was to be subtle, to encourage viewers to analyze the characters and develop their own interpretations and analysis of the characters and relationships. But in effect the show simply felt under cooked, like a concept without direction or purpose. None of the show’s characters ever fully stood out because none of them were ever fully characterized and developed. The show is supposed to be about Kohaku learning to overcome her patent sullen morbidity. But having her travel back in time to do so merely feels like a crutch because she didn’t do anything in the past that she couldn’t have also done in her own era.

                            It’s actually a bizarre coincidence that the 13 minute long Nani Iro no Nani web anime short largely aims for and actually accomplishes literally the exact same narrative theme and point that Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara delivers less successfully in 13 full-length episodes.

                            As a tourism promotion, the Kimi no Matsu Basho e web short is just fine. As a narrative anime it slightly feels as though it pads for time to reach its target 15 minute length.

                            As tourism anime go, Itsuka Aeru Kimi ni is unfortunately not very successful. The short does little to inspire viewers to be curious about Ogaki as the short practically illustrates only a hypothetical future rather than present day sights. And narratively An being confident feels like cheating when she's already received confirmation of how her future will develop.

                            If novelty one-hit-wonder songs like “Gangnam Style,” “Who Let the Dogs Out,” and “What does the Fox Say?” are technically passable yet objectively terrible music, the Venom movie is their cinematic parallel. The movie is a “comic book movie” in the pejorative sense that Masters of the Universe, Howard the Duck, and Superman IV are comic book movies. Setting aside the dull establishing first 30 minutes, the bulk of Venom is designed to make preadolescent boys’ eyes widen in astonishment. So anything remotely related to believability or logic goes right out the window. In fact, multiple scenes in the film that are clearly supposed to be serious had me laughing out loud because the film is a terrible guilty pleasure, like a song that’s awful yet still has an intractable energy. Except the Venom movie only just barely reaches the periphery of such status, so I honestly can’t fathom how or why the film became as successful as it was.

                            For reasons not worth discussing, I "watched" the 2004 Jim Wynorski abomination “Gargoyle: Wings of Darkness.” Honestly, I drifted in and out of sleep during its first half. The movie is terrible. In fact, it feels as though its only reason for existence is to serve as cheap DTV fodder to fill a timeslot or sell for a standardized minimum licensing fee.

                            The same friend that chose "Gargoyle" also oped for us to watch the inexplicably highly praised Walter Hill action/suspense thriller Southern Comfort. The “Deliverance” style scenario is fine, and the film’s cast is quite respectable. But the film’s development is patently absurd because it’s strictly based upon the characters behaving in exceptionally stupid and ridiculous ways. The team of soldiers transitions from weekend warriors to Colonel Kurtz wacko savages literally in a span of just hours. Grown men, especially US Army soldiers, even if reservists, ought to have enough common sense to realize that shooting at civilians isn'’t a “joke,” nor is beating up a random civilian then blowing up his home a justifiable action. Moreover, even children know that when lost in the wilderness, stop wandering aimlessly. Practically every decision the soldiers make is “logical” and “believable” only if the viewer assumes that the cast of characters have no concept of morality or common sense.

                            Watched the Falcons beat the Bucs with one second left in the game. Watched the Bears beat the Vikings and the Colts beat the Titans.

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                              The first episode of Manaria Friends is pleasant and exhibits impressive production values but is somewhat difficult to critique because the episode does little more than just introduce a handful of characters.

                              I've mentioned before that Anekoyusagi's Shield Hero novels are crap. Especially the early volumes are hideously composed, rife with contradictions, plot holes, abrupt retcons, and weak characterizations and plot developments that occur for random reasons. The later manga, and now the anime adaptation are slight improvements because they have the benefit of hindsight to lay groundwork that's not in the original novel and establish greater consistency that also lacking in the original novel. But even the first episode of the anime is still not without weakness. By intention, the entire cast consists of liars and/or idiots. Upon arriving in Melromarc, Naofumi sends up so many flags that his betrayal seems inevitable rather than tragic. He may as well be wearing a red shirt. Yet the biggest frustrating plot contrivance is that after he's framed and ostracized by the kingdom of Melromarc, he still decides to level up and defend the kingdom for no other reason than because original author Anekoyusagi wrote him that way. Naofumi justifiably holds nothing but contempt for the country, so there's no logical reason for him to sacrifice himself for the good of the country except that if he behaved realistically and refused to fight the novel would have no plot. Moreover, both in the original novel and even the anime adaptation, timing makes no sense. The waves of invading monsters appear monthly, so Melromarc summons the legendary heroes a month after the second wave. But the heroes need weeks to grind levels. The level one heroes have literally been summoned irresponsibly late, mere days before the next invasion, yet somehow the story manages to magically stretch that couple of days into weeks. The story's characters are unlikable and behave either unbelievably or terribly. The story development feels a bit illogical, but at least the anime has the advantage of foreshadowing forces such as the queen's shadows that didn't actually exist in the original novel. And the anime has the benefit of adding vivid imagery and atmosphere that was sorely missing from the original novel.

                              I'm really not sure what to make of the first episode of the Fate universe “Lord El-Melloi II Case Files.” The episode is simultaneously laughable and frustrating, but I'm uncertain whether it's supposed to be serious or satire because the episode does seem to have a sly sense of humor. The fact that its dialogue is all projected in a dire, prophetic and pretentious tone doesn't make it valid. For example, most of the opening lecture about mirrors and name-calling being a primary form or cursing makes sense in only the most liberal, figurative interpretation. And Bram Nauda claiming that a substitute is the same thing as a fake is just plain wrong, making him seem like an ignorant fool instead of an powerful visionary. In fact, most of the characters in this show seem to have their noses elevated so high that they can't see the reality that's obvious before them. But the very fact that the political infighting between noble mages is so petty and automatic is exactly what makes it ridiculous in an ironic, comical sense.

                              Watched the Persona 5 Dark Sun special.

                              Finished off the exciting and fun Thunderbolt Fantasy II episodes 12 & 13.

                              Watched the Hataraku Saibou special episode.

                              Watched the first two short Asobi Asobase BD specials.

                              Watched the 13th, final episode of Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan.

                              I have a feeling that I've previously watched the Kiniro Mosaic movie, but since I wasn't entirely certain I watched it (again).

                              Queen's Blade Unlimited is evidently an alternate reboot that not only changes perspective but also changes plot details. It's a bit of a strange production because it doesn't seem to clearly understand its itention. The first "Unlimited" OVA contains graphic T&A, but it feels more obligatory than gratitous. A shift of focus away from exploitation would be fine if the show placed more emphasis on its fantasy action elements, but it doesn't emphasis those either. So the first OVA just feels adequate but not excellent in any regard.

                              Some limited animation reveals the Mecha-Ude OVA as a crowd-funded amateur production, but for better and worse it's a very typical shounen anime pilot. The world setting is fairly unique and creative, allowing for a tremendous variety of character and action diversity. But the characters are flat stereotypes.

                              Watched the Aggressive Retsuko Christmas Special.

                              The fourth issue of the John Wick prequel comic is coherent but sadly still rather dumb. Read Savage Dragon issue 28 because I discovered The Maxx makes a guest appearance in the issue. Read Gideon Falls issue 9. A Walk Through Hell issue 6 was supposedly the beginning of a new story arc, but it's not.

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                                The Milky Holmes: Psycho no Aisatsu special is typically very silly and is also surprising because it features an unexpected cross-over that's actually even funnier for the viewer that understands the full context of the joke.

                                Comparing the Precure Super Stars movie to any of the other Precure movies is a bit difficult because Super Stars is subtley different from the prior films. The Super Stars movie is far more story-driven with significantly less action than any of the earlier Precure films. It is a good film, however. But it also feels a bit strange to watch now because it's clearly set very early in the Hugtto Precure continuity, so Emiru and Lulu don't appear in the film.

                                The Nekopara Extra OVA is so cute it's almost criminal.

                                Watched the two Yu Yu Hakusho BD boxed set "Two Shots" and "All or Nothing" OVAs.

                                I'm very conflicted about the first episode of Bang Dream 2nd Season. The 3D CG art design takes some getting used to, and especially during the first half of the episode it's frequently a little bit stiff. Moreover, as if trying to compensate for the animation, the voice acting feels as if it's trying too hard. All of the dialogue and character interchanges feel just a bit forced and artificial. However, the episode's third act that consists of a sequence of band performances is catchy music, and moreover the animation becomes much more impressive as it literally, accurately renders every character's instrumentation (in most of the shots). From guitar chords to keyboard fingering to drumstick strokes and, naturally, mouth movements, every animation detail is spot-on accurate. Even though the episode's third act is basically just a series of short music videos, I can't deny its effectiveness.

                                I began watching the first episode of the 2017 miniseries Itsudatte Bokura no Koi wa 10 cm Datta and found it remarkably familiar. I watched the whole episode thinking that it was redundant with the Zutto Mae Kara Suki Deshita movie. But then I double checked and realized that only one scene overlaps between both productions. So I'm sure that I've actually watched the first episode of “Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart” a year or two ago and immediately forgot about it. It's easy to forget because the concept of kids making a movie is more prominent in Ano Natsu De Matteru, and countless other romantic drama anime have more dynamic and interesting characters.

                                The premiere episode of Egao no Daika is a bit difficult to call because it does little to establish expectations. The first episode introduces the setting and characters but provides little sense of what type of show the series will develop as. As a viewer, I can't tell whether this is a war drama, a political thriller, a coming of age drama, a romance story, a runaway adventure. In effect, the first episode has very competent production values, but the episode simply isn't interesting because nothing has context or significance. Viewers don't know who the heroes or villains are or what the conflict is, so viewers are given little reason to care about the characters or any events that occur within the episode.

                                Unfortunately the first episode of 2019's Boogiepop wa Warawanai really is as bad as I feared it would be. The first episode's plot is literally, “There's a rumor that a murder spree is occurring. An individual steps forward and claims that he's going to resolve the situation. People get curious about the rumors. The “hero” announces that the situation has been resolved. Everybody moves on with their lives.” In effect, the first episode isn't even a tease; it's completely insubstantial. “Maybe something happened. Maybe nothing happened. Either way, it doesn't involve you,” does not make for compelling viewing. Moreover, the episode's production values are sub-par and very disappointing compared to the typical standards of Madhouse productions. The first episode doesn't even have any compelling atmosphere. The only aspect of the episode remotely worth praise is its somewhat appealing opening and ending theme songs. The second episode clarifies that the series is a single story with a wide range of actors and events, so each episode will fill in details from different perspectives, presumably getting increasingly involved, relevant, and revealing. But the second episode still has a bare minimum of characterization and no atmosphere to speak of.

                                Possibly because I'm old and out of touch, I don't fully comprehend the concept of “virtual YouTubers.” In fact, I've only just become aware of the concept very recently. So the NHK Virtual Nodo Jiman TV special seems to me like an especially bizarre example of metacinema, but for Japanese viewers it's probably a hybrid of both parody and genuine contemporary Japanese entertainment culture. NHK Nodo Jiman is a fifty plus year old Japanese televised singing competition show. So NHK broadcasting an episode starring only digital YouTube mascot characters seems a bit strange because how are digital creations supposed to compete with each other in a talent contest? Furthermore, interviewing digital avatars and asking about their hobbies and influences, as though they were real, living people, also seems almost creepily weird.

                                Went to the Saturday afternoon theatrical screening of Mob Psycho Season 2. The screening consisted of a short, insubstantial interview with Mob seiyuu Setsuo Itou followed by the "Reigen Shirarezaru Kiseki no Reinouryokusha" season one recap OVA and the subdued first episode of second season.

                                Watched the Colts knock the Texans out of the Wildcard playoffs. The Seahawks looked dominant and the Cowboys lethargic in the first half of their playoff game. But in the second half the Seahawks got sloppy while the Cowboys got motivated to ultimately win the game.

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