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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.


      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.


        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.


          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.