One Punch Man 01

October 5th, 2015 by Author

The moment when Saitama gears up to fight the King of Subterrans was highly reminiscent of the showdown of Sunred and General Vamp in Sunred 26. So good. Both end abrubtly for the same reason :-) .

The Goodness of Shirobako

September 14th, 2015 by Author

A number of my Japanese colleagues either watch anime regularly, or know that I do, so whenever we meet the conversation turns to what was good recently. Of course, last time it happened, I had to trot out Shirobako and then compress its essense into a conversation bite. I went for ep.12 as an example, and on reflection, there’s no better.

You see, I never had a high regard for Anno. While everyone falls over backward in reverence, I thought that Eva was perhaps half-baked and a bit on the psycho side. It became milked like Star Wars, too. Given that, Shirobako 12 succeeded in portraying Anno in a positive light admirably. At least I think I know now what about him is worthy of respect. It was a revelation, frankly.

To know the details of the revelation, one perhaps should watch the whole thing. But one example part that stuck with me in particular is how the meeting of Aoi and (K)Anno opened. In the course of the series, we visited a few homes, such as those of Aoi’s girl friends. All of them live in small, cheap apartments (except Rii), yet each place has a special personal touch. Some cook more than others and thus their kitchenette areas are more elaborate. Aoi, obviously, has her 2 toys placed prominently, and so on. This way to support a character study is nothing new, although it’s clear that someone among Shirobako’s creators spent an effort on it. One way or the other, the rooms look lived-in.

So, when Aoi enters (K)Anno’s meeting room, it comes as a shock that it’s completely empty. It has basic furniture, certainly, but otherwise it’s devoid of any small private artefacts… Except that positioned prominently is a giant model of a submarine in 1:48 scale, under a glass box upon a pedestal. The direction of that scene is astonishing. And of course, there’s more where that came from.

P.S. Another fantastic moment is that (K)Anno does not miss an opportunity to preach, such as mentioning that contemporary animators ought to pay attention the basics more. It sounds so amazingly him. But while his interviews serve to magnify this annoying trait, Shirobako manages to admit it, yet demonstrate convincingly that it’s not only natural and excusable, it’s small compared to his big vision for the anime, big thinking scope, big wisdom.

UPDATE: Chris e-mailed with additional details how the interior design of the room pays homage to EVA. While a great example of how good references are made, it’s not the thing upon which I want to focus. Otherwise, I’d ramble at length about possible link between the Surcouf and EVA and anime in general.

Hataraku Maou-sama

September 6th, 2015 by Author

Instead of being productive, I spent Saturday watching Devil is a Part-timer on Netflix. There’s not going to be “Anime begins” nor “Anime ends” — I marathoned the whole thing before I had a chance to blog it.

Until now, I rested under a mistaken impression that Maou was an anime of funny hijinks that occur in the Devil’s workplace at McDonald’s. Although hijinks occured, the series had a dynamic plot at its core. Now, I’m sure the plot was full of holes, but who cares. It was fun and very well executed.

What’s amazing though, they managed to wrap up an ending of a continuing story that did not suck. Even more amazing: remember the primal rage that Kawamori prompted in viewers with unresolved Ranka and Sheryl? It’s basically the same thing here, but… it’s completely fine! How about that?

Overall, it feels like Dog Days Season 1, before the pathetic extensions.

Since we broke out the comparisons, remember Shingu? One of concepts in it was a bridge person. Everyone else is “in”, an alien or a magic user, but the group includes a normal human. This is rather common, look no further than Haruhi for another example. In Maou, however, this line is clearly under-developed. If one goes by the the spoileriffic OP with Chi-chan running to the center, it seems like she had to have a bigger role. ED has some of her moments, too, which made no sense.

There’s a bunch of other hints that the original source, perhaps, offered the bigger field. Especially in the ep.13. Nonetheless, it detracted very little.

Liked: Yes
Rewatch: Sure.

P.S. If things progress naturally, without the author twising the characters into pretzels, Emilia is going to win. But there is no way to know, of course.

P.P.S. Suzuko (Bel) is the best girl. Okay, I know about her past, but whatever, she still is. {Update: Evirus agrees.}

P.P.P.S. Steven has no taste:

I watched the first two episodes of Hataraku Maou-sama, and, well, it wasn’t shit. But it wasn’t good.

I said “this must be the best anime ever” a few times when I watched it, but I toned it down to “anime of the year” for Twitter.

UPDATE: Now you’ve said it:

[…] but my memory is that the only thing in that show that was of even slight interest was the human female coworker with the ridiculous jugs. // It wasn’t terrible; it’s just that I didn’t find any of it interesting, except the coworker and her jugs. That wasn’t enough to keep me watching, […]

Sasuga Steven. Still, he liked Divergence Eve for the story. One would think the plot and characters of Maou counted for something.


September 4th, 2015 by Author

The Wakako-Zake is another great 2-minuter, focused entirely on the subject. There’s no amazing plot tension of PuPiPo or heart-shaking feels of Danna o Wakaranai. Instead, we get a back-to-basics food anime. And no crazy lesbian tension nor over-the-top fights.

Personally, I find the lack of human interaction somewhat disappointing in Wakako. They mix some in once in a while, and when they do, it adds a certain edge that I appreciate. Done right, it does not have to detract from the food of the episode. The best, I think, was the 05 where Wakako notices a guy who knows his yakitori.

For that reason, the series does not deliver the impact of e.g. Danna, but nonetheless, very nice.

I’ve got nothing

August 31st, 2015 by Author

This season is pits.

Cinderella Girls is almost unbearable. Omo seems to think that I need an idol to latch on (if I understood him right). Not true, I already have Miku and Rin. Sorry, I meant “RIN RIN RIN RIN RIN”. Anyway, it’s somewhat of a nightmare, although a very well put together. By now the overall plan have become clear: Noriko Takao aims to give a gazillion idols their cameos, while using their appearances to drive various facets of the story. Omo highlighted perhaps the greatest success of this strategy: Mika Jougasaki’s episode 17, where she uses tactics of resistance to deal with the company management railroading their idol employees. In a way, her approach was more mature than Kaede’s, and she’s only 17! Generally though, I’m not pleased. Keep promising to drop it, but then every time they show me Sae or pull some other trick.

JitsuWata is simply poorly made, especially in the art department. But it’s less horrible than its in-season competitor Monster Musume, just enough to stick with it. Nagisa is the best, BTW.

Wakako-zake is great, but it’s a 2-minuter.

Anyway, here are a few pictures.

Wooser was already blogged. Miss Monochrome is playing Liberty in this prudish re-enactment.

Wakaba*Girl shares the main problem with Watamote: the lead chearacter is an idiot. Granted, she’s a friendly and kind idiot, not a sociopatic jerk. It should make a bigger difference than it does in practice.

The DannaWakaranai thing is better than it has any right to be and I rewatch it a lot (been blogged, too — should’ve created a category from the start, but who knew).

The Opposites Game

August 30th, 2015 by Author

About a week ago I played an opposites game in a mixed group with native speakers. It’s a game where participants form a circle and ask their neighbour to name an antonym for a word. Americans go heavy on adjectives at first: takai-yasui, semai-hiroi, and so on. Japanese endeavour to be above it. For example, did you know that the opposite for yama (mountain) is kawa (river)? But either way, in a few revolutions the vocabulary gets drained and players start getting creative. I didn’t want to do it, because it ran a risk of revealing the power levels, but eventually I resorted to the question from Danna 02. My relay neighbour was a native speaker, BTW.

Wooser S3 05

August 21st, 2015 by Author

Wooser is as uneven as Nichijou. Fortunately, it’s similarly brilliant at its peaks. I thought ep.5 of the current season was pretty amazing, although not in the way of some kind of dramatic or artistic quality. Here’s how it works.

At its core, Wooser is an advertisement machine nowadays. Well, it always was like that. For instance, the greatest episode of S2 was the collaboration with Idolm@ster, where Wooser praises the adjective “slender”, while Chihaya is projected in her movie outfit. Still, the creators learned to run with it even better than before.

As an aside, the whole thing reminds me of Danny Choo a lot. It’s the same absolutely relentless push of merchandaising, that miraculously fails to become crass and worthless.

So, nowadays, when they turn to the good old comedy content, it attains a quality of eerie suspension above the reality, while referring to whatever it is they are mocking. Allow me to illustrate with retelling — not that I would ever hope to match the IKnight, the greatest anime reteller of all time, but yes, the same idea.

We begin with Wooser creating an own multi-clone, Wooser 53, who in turn meets Miss Monochrome. The two hit it off immediately and form an idol unit. You can already see the cameo, aka “collaboration”, serving as a basis for what’s to come. As they start to hit fame and fortune, Wooser 53 and Miss Monochrome split, with the former flopping and the latter continuing her raise. It is a lifetime for the two, compressed into 10 seconds. Finally, we are shown a scene where Wooser 53 and Wooser’s Companion attend a Miss Monochrome’s gala. Wooser 53 dies there and then, and the last thing he sees is Miss Monochrome’s idol brilliance.

But that is not all, oh no. When Companion sees that Wooser 53 is dead, she starts talking to him, saying “Wooser no baka!” and “Look how she’s shining” (she’s not clutching his limp body, but it’s basically that kind of scene). I think the greatest touch about it, you cannot even tell if they are lampooning this popular tear-jerking move, paying a homage to it, or aiming for something else entirely. It is a thing in itself and in the same time it derives its power from the connection with its context.

They unwind the emotions by cutting to the scene of Wooser 53’s funeral, where a Companion eulogises him as “a real trash of a man”.

Knights of Sidonia ends

August 16th, 2015 by Author

The most important thing to know about Sidonia is that everyone who promised a great ending lied. Not only it’s deus ex machina ending, it’s also OreTata ending (yes, I learned that term from Shirobako).

The rest of the series was faulty all over, starting with a completely senseless alien threat (about as bad as one in Attack on Titan). The world creation did not pass a smell test — worlds even have floating islands from Dog Days. Only characters were okay, but it wasn’t enough.

Oh well. At least we supported “anime” “industry” by watching it dubbed on Netflix. Except that it was a B-list 3D flick that perhaps did not merit supporting.

Liked: Very meh despite exciting battles and nice harem hijinks
Rewatch: God, no. Not even if they resurrect Shizuka in Season 5.

Evirus on Cinderella Girls

August 13th, 2015 by Author

From the department of "I told you so":

How about spending more time with the ostensible lead trio in New Generations? How about that?

I wanted to write here how much I relate to Mika because the same “corporate forces” made me to dust off my C++ and travel to Oregon; and that adults do what adults gotta do, but eh. Evirus describes highlights of Cinderella Girls and my disappointment with the series overall perfectly, so why bother. RTWT.

Pon on Hyouka 02

August 8th, 2015 by Author

To give a good example of the things that propelled The Bros up the ranks, here’s what Pon saw in Hyouka:

What you need to do now is pick out specific examples. Like, it’s interesting how Oreki’s thought processes, even considering that the show has to convey them visually because it’s a TV show, are based in language. You get instances of people whose bodies are partially or entirely replaced by kanji. And then Chitanda is the notable exception to this. She’s always a jorogumo or a dog or has light shining out of her face, but she’s never occluded by language. There’s something more primal about his attitude toward her. Which, you know … makes sense.

Long time ago, I saw an article that collected descriptions of their thought process by several intellectuals and scientists. Very few used language-based symbolic thinking, surprisingly. Most tended to employ the visual cortex and see the abstract thoughts and objects, only using the language to “tape out” checkpoints and final results. The advantage of kanji in such use is that one can imagine them where Western advanced mind has to invent the whole apparatus from scratch. One of the article subjects, for example, used collections of dots.

When I watched Hyouka, I missed the meaning that Pon collected, in part because assgning kanji to people is rather commonplace. Here’s an example from Shiroboko: