Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category

TLDR: Anime I never started

October 14, 2017

Sometimes you don’t have to watch even the first episode. Sometimes you happened on the first volume of the manga. Here’s two.

Inuyashiki: From the creator of Gantz. Actually, that tells you all you need to know. Old guy and young punk are reincarnated as robots. Old guy becomes superhero. Young punk becomes supervillain. Much bloodshed and dismemberment, most of it gratuitous. I dropped the manga after the first volume.

King’s Game: Normally a slightly racy kids game. Whoever is ‘king’ gets to tell the others what to do (“kiss the person to your right”). In this one, everybody is out to kill everybody else, because some ‘king’ made that decision. I don’t even…

This is why one reads manga.

 

 

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Mahōtsukai no Yome: The tragedy of the librarian

October 11, 2017

The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star, the story of Hatori Chise, and how she came to be how she is, has another story embedded in it: the story of Miura Riichi and the promise he couldn’t keep.

The OVA mainly looks at Miura as the Librarian of the Forest, who protects Chise in Episode 1, and lends her books in Episode 2. In Episode 3, tragedy strikes.

It turns out that Miura isn’t a person at all. He’s a ghost, a spirit (although he doesn’t know this), who died perhaps 70 years ago.

At that time, he was a student, studying in the home of a rich family with a beautiful daughter, Mayumi. She is to be part of an arranged marriage, and gives Miura a book (春惜しむ, Haru Oshimu, roughly To Lament The End Of Spring), saying she wants him to return it to her, and that by the way she really likes reading the last page of a book.

The next thing we see is him running through the woods, at night, with the book. He is evidently desperate to return it. Unfortunately, he trips in the dark, and falls down a steep embankment, impaling himself on a branch at the bottom, and don’t you just hate it when that happens?

We go from a dark and stormy night to Miura standing outside the Library, book in hand, shirt clean, with no sign of impalement. An indeterminate amount of time later (“I have no idea how long I’ve been here”), we have the events of episodes 1 and 2. Miura is killed by the dark fey, and the library is destroyed. But before he dies, he gives Chise the book and asks her to return it to Mayumi.

Chise finds Mayumi, now an old woman, Niikura Mayumi , waiting to die in hospital. She returns the book, and Miura has kept his promise. However, that’s not the tragedy.

The last page of the book had a hand-written note: Wait for me on the final platform. What are we to make of this? My interpretation is that she was in love with Miura, didn’t want the arranged marriage, and was planning on eloping with him. I admit that’s a lot of meaning to infer from a short statement. It would be useful if she had given him a little more information, like Pack a lunch.

So, the tragedy we don’t see is young Mayumi, waiting at the train station, wondering what happened to Riichi, until her parents arrive to drag her off to a loveless marriage. Despite that, she seems to have made the best of it, with a married daughter, and several grandchildren. One wonders what would have happened if he’d thought to take a cab to the train station. But that would make it a whole other story.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2017, part 2

October 6, 2017

Three up/three down – the off-puttingness continues. This started off being a potentially busy season, with twelve anime that I was considering watching. Fortunately, seven of them blew up on the pad. So far.

The first two in this listing could easily be swapped and few would notice the difference.

1. Dies Irae: Godlike beings fight grotesque monsters for obscure reasons during the latter days of the Third Reich. Too much shouting, fighting, and dismemberment for me. Later episodes will, I think, shift to modern day Tokyo. It won’t help.

Everybody wants to be Wolverine

2. Garo – Vanishing Line: Grotesque hero fights even uglier monsters, assisted by his talking motorcycle. Too much shouting, fighting, and dismemberment for me. This is not a Kino spinoff.

I guess they forgot that modern cameras have a ‘red eye’ setting

3. Taisho Mebiusline Chicchaisan: The title is longer than the episode. Country boy and his sword come to Tokyo to study and get away from the grotesque spirits of the dead that only he can see. On his first day there, he gets turned into a chibi figure. Nobody notices. First episode was about three and a half minutes longer than it needed to be.

They just happened to have a yukata his size

 

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2017, part 1

October 4, 2017

There are some anime that are so off-putting that there’s no reason to invoke the three episode rule. Here’s three four that fell at the first fence.

1. Sengoku Night Blood: Young woman is whisked into an isekai by a wonky smartphone app. Said world turns out to be filled with bishies who are historical figures who are vampires. We good? She may or may not be rescued by a talking tanuki who isn’t Shimogamo Yasaburō.

2. Black Clover: Remember how Tanya the Evil was raised in an orphanage and used her magical abilities to claw her way to the top? Why don’t we have twins, raised in an orphanage. One is calm and competent and is gifted with the way to the top. The other, the protagonist, is an incompetent, unmagical, spiky-haired loudmouth who plans to shout his way to the top. With a first episode like this, everyone who watched it thinking it was the second season of Honey and Clover is sure to be captivated!

3. Juni Taisen: A collection of twelve psychopaths, representing twelve different families of psychopaths, representing twelve psychopathic interpretations of the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac, takes part in a psychopathic death match anime. It’s like Fate/Stay Night with worse costuming and no cute girls.

4. Urahara: Three girls in a dress shop fight to keep UFO’s from stealing Japanese culture. Squeaky voices. Kids book style backgrounds. Best part was Rito-chan coming to work on a skateboard. Then a Japanese expat from America, who appears out of a giant nursing bottle, turns them into magical girls, who can fight for justice and the nihongo way.

Did I mention there was a talking tempura shrimp?

 

What’s with these anime endings?

September 29, 2017

The season just ended will go down in history as the Endless Summer. As in, the summer with no proper endings.

I admit I haven’t watched every anime in the Summer of 2017 — there were roughly 25 new series, of which I watched about seven all the way through, so something less than 30%. Of those seven, five (20% of the total) ended without resolving a major plot component. Admittedly, most were slice of life shows, with few dramatic arcs, but even in 2013’s Non Non Byori, the end of the first year of school marked the end of the first season. Most of these were just, unsatisfactory.

Show Ending
 

Gamers

Episode 11 left us hanging, with no idea how the romantic triangle would resolve. Then Ep 12 was a fanservice onsen romp.

A Centaur’s Life

This is a slice of life show, but there are several threads left hanging as the last episode was devoted to dungeon game fanservice and arm wrestling

Tsuredure Children

Not exactly a slice of life, it followed the romantic travails of almost a dozen different couples, and managed to end in the air, with a couple of couples romantic issues unresolved

Aho Girl

The last episode of this slice of life show could have been stuck in anyplace after Episode 1 and no-one would notice. And in case you hadn’t figured it out, Aho means idiot.

Restaurant to Another World

Slice of life cooking show that ends with a heretofore unexpected link between the restaurant and the other world. One which doesn’t change anything.

In Another World
with my Smartphone

Finally, something approaching an ending. Our Hero gets the girl. In fact, he gets all the girls. Everyone in the harem agrees to share him. No word about the sex-starved android.

Magical Circle Guru Guru

The only other one with a proper ending is the one based on an 8-bit game. Our Heroes win through in the end, the kingdom is restored, and the Mage is off on another adventure with her Hero.

Anime Preview Fall 2017

September 22, 2017

Time for my semitraditional anime Fall Preview.

I base these on just the title and the cover art, unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who, you know, actually read the press releases,

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (Himoutou, Classicaloid), kids stuff (Yuuki Yuuna, Time Bokan), movies and OVA’s, and anything with idols in the description.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

Kini no Tabi: A boy and his motorcycle

Mahoutsukai no Yome: Magical eland traps girl in web of thorns

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou: Moeblob road trip

Kujira no Kora : Girl sells sex toys to her friends

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

Two Car: two girls, one motorcycle

 

Boku no Kanojo: Who will be the next Aho Girl?

Dies Irae: hobbies for your basement

Konohana Kitan: young fox girl is forced to work at her grandmother’s hot spring

WON’T WATCH. The cover art and/or the title tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

Imouto sae Ireba Ii: writer tries to create Abbey Lane as a real girl

Infini-T Force: Power Rangers help shrine maiden

Osake wa Fuufu: Wakakozake meets I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying

Dog Mansion: old man learns the art of team breakdancing

Junni Taisen: when gravity fails

Vanishing Line: motorcycle with a gun

…and 33 more that didn’t even make the “I won’t watch” cut.

Tanya: Someone is wrong on the Internet

July 25, 2017

It’s always painful when even the supporters of a show get it wrong. The latest misinterpretation of Tanya is by Nick Creamer, over on ANN, and it looks like none of the commenters has any concept of WW’s I and II beyond watching Thomas Kretschmann movies. Herewith, seven key points to keep in mind when reading any of it:

  1. The Empire isn’t imperialist. They never invaded anyone that didn’t invade them first. When the not-Scandanavians invaded the Empire, everybody’s reaction was WTF? Who would do such a stupid thing? The narration at the end of the series points out the irony that all the Empire’s actions were out of fear of their neighbors.
  2. The officers aren’t Nazis. The talk of serving the homeland appears on both sides in the anime, and is no different than what you would have heard in any military headquarters in our Europe in the early 1900’s. The counter-invasion of not-Scandanavia horrified the generals.
  3. Nobody’s a good guy. Soldiers on both sides did terrible things, because that’s what one does in a war. At the start of Episode 1, the not-French were killing not-Germans who were disorganized and fleeing, and doing it with a smile. In Episode 2, Anson Su, lead element of the invasion force, did his best to kill a young girl who was merely acting as an observer. Yes, she turned out to be a fierce fighter, but that was later. As far as he knew, she was like his daughter.
  4. Nobody’s a bad guy. These are military professionals, engaged in high-stakes, high adrenalin actions. They are excited in their work, and proud of their accomplishments. If they sit and mope and come all over angsty about their actions, they do it after the battle, when such thoughts won’t slow down their reactions. Tanya does it on the train. Su does it, a little bit, right before the fjord raid kicks off.
  5. Tanya isn’t a sadist. Throughout the series, none of Tanya’s actions were, as far as I can tell, violations of the rules of war, either in her world or in ours.  None of her acts involve inflicting pain without purpose, and at least twice she says she hates killing. The guy she fired in Episode 2 failed to show for work on time, and failed to respond to training. Tanya’s only “sin” was in not feeling any emotion about it. Her approach to training was similar to that used by the US Marines and the UK Commandos. She thought it would drive them away. Instead, it created an elite unit. On at least two occasions, Tanya changed her approach to a problem in order to minimize her casualties.
  6. Tanya isn’t power-hungry. Here in our world, and in the new one, her goal is to achieve a quiet life. All of her actions point in that direction. Play by the rules, and do your job well, and you will be on the escalator to a good position and a quiet life.
  7. Being X isn’t God. Maybe he’s A god (responsible only for reincarnation, in a Japanese division-of-divine-labor sort of way), but in Episode 2 he complains of being unable to handle so many billions of souls. To which Tanya replies that overwork is an indicator of a failed business model.

If you want to develop a less biased view of Tanya, when you watch it, imaging that it stars Sylvester Stallone, instead of a 10-year old girl.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017 – 3

July 16, 2017

I’m crying here. I was going to have just two TLDRs this season, but sometimes one has to reopen the books for new challengers.

Shining Tears X Wind: Pronounced crosswind. STxW (pronounced stew) is a Crunchyroll re-release of a 2007 anime based on a Sega mobile game. Parallel worlds. Multiple handsome heroes. Multiple ornamental girls to fill out the handsome heroes’ harems. The girls also act as …ah… receptacles … for …um… magic swords … that the heroes store in their oppai, bosoms, chests. King Arthur it ain’t.

They wanted to copy the tank chase scene from GaruPan, but didn’t have the budget

Graphics and animation appear to be done using the same 8-bit technology they used for the game. If you liked the game, then (A) you will like this, and (B) we can’t be friends anymore.

True Tears: Crunchyroll re-release of a 2008 anime. High school boy lives in the same house as a cute classmate who he thinks likes him but she really likes the brother of a girl who he also thinks likes him but all she wants him for is his bodily fluids.

Trust me, it will all end in tears before bedtime

None of them are very likeable. Well, there’s the girl standing on the beer crate.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017-2

July 11, 2017

And the losers keep straggling in.

Konbini Kareshi: Grand Hotel, the anime version. Six couples and how their lives are changed by their experiences at the local Lawsons. The boys are the type I spent my high school days avoiding. The girls are the type who spent their high school days avoiding me.

I wonder if I’ll find the girl of my dreams in there. They carry everything else.

Fox Spirit Matchmaker: Fox maiden vows to excel at matchmaking despite the urgings (threats) of the sexy head of her powerful fox clan, all the while avoiding marriage to a jerk who is also a powerful priest who is attempting to avoid marriage despite the urgings (threats) of a bunch of gunsels from his powerful human clan, all the while fending off attacks from a different fox clan, along with some nefarious plots by a fat underhanded plotting priest. Got that? Feels like the producer just threw everything he could think of into a pot and called it stew.

This picture sums it up: One third sexy fox ladies, one third chibi fox follies, one third assholes

Aho Girl: Aho is the word for idiot. It’s for when you’ve already said baka. Our protagonette is an aho. Bright, cheery, infinite mood swings, no short term memory, banana fanatic, zero common sense. Her neighbor (one can’t say ‘boyfriend’, he tells her mother she’s a monkey — her mother agrees) keeps her in line through force and violence. All the girls love him.

The carrot banana and the stick

Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU: Bunch of guys with swords, who are swords, fight demons, who are time travellers, with the aid of a fox with a computer. Running with swords. Fighting demons. Bantering with the guys. Running…

With a thousand years of experience, you’d think they’d find a better way to run with a sword

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2017 – 1

July 6, 2017

Two days into the Summer Season and already the rejects are piling up.

Saiyuki Reload Blast: AKA Saiyuki Version V. Latest in a long line of anime adaptations of a long line of manga. Based on the Japanese version of the Chinese compilation of the Buddhist folktale collection called Journey to the West. Bad art, ugly characters, poor acting, static fight scenes, and a stupid AI jeep (Kino should sue).

Which one is the monkey?

Netsuzou Trap: Girl sexually molests another girl. Other girl not sure she objects. Does that make it right? Did they limit the length to 9 minutes because they ran out of body parts to fondle?

French kissing while hanging off an apartment balcony three stories up and she’s afraid her mother will walk in and see them

Knight’s & Magic: Programmer dies and is resurrected in a magical fantasy world with knights in shining mechas. Develops new magical apps by applying good coding practices to existing magic. The weak spot, of course, being the lack of code comments and documentation. Unless maybe the extraneous comma in the title means that everything that follows is a comment.

Patlabor it ain’t

 

Anime Postview: Spring 2017

July 4, 2017

 

The usual disclaimer: this is a look at how well I did in my Spring 2017 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

It was a marginal season. At least five of the more interesting titles were sequestered behind the Amazon Anime Strike double paywall.

Shows I said I Will Watch, because the the cover art was properly enticing, or I liked the first season:

Saekano 2: Didn’t get to watch, because it’s behind the AASDPW. I’ll buy the Blue Ray.

Uchouten Kazoku 2: Haven’t finished it yet, because I decided to watch Season 1 again. Yes, I’ll buy this Blue Ray, as well.

Shuumatsu Nani: Wasn’t great. Wasn’t bad. I liked the world-building, thought the backstory was contrived, and the ending was rushed.

Shows I said I Might Watch, because the the cover art wasn’t too bad, or the blurb sounded enticing:

Nanatsu no Taizai: Dropped after two episodes. Don’t get me wrong, I like fan service, but I like it to be fan-servicey, not cute censorshippy. I’d have to buy the Blue Ray, and I probably won’t.

Kado, Sekaisuru: First half was an interesting first contact story. Second half went downhill. Ending was too contrived.

Tsuki ga Kire: Too, too fumbly teen romance. Very sweet. Couldn’t stand it. Dropped.

Shows I said I Won’t Watch, because of the cover art / title / blurb. Sometimes I watch these anyway.

Tsugumomo: Which, I find out, doesn’t mean extraordinary peach. Very 90’s in style, and most of the females are pre-teens. Well, thousand year old spirits trapped in pre-teen bodies, and try telling that to the Customs Agent. Dropped.

Sakura Quest: I started, but haven’t finished. Country girl goes to the city and gets reassigned to the country. I plan to finish it this Summer.

So, eleven shows, of which, two were good, and three were OK. Three were tried and dropped. Three were not even tried. I’ve made better predictions. If that’s the case, what was I watching? Well, mostly I tried various programs and then dropped them. Sometimes it took me a while to get to the Why am I watching this? point.

Alice & Zoroku: Superpower girl finds a home with supergrumpy old man. First half came to a satisfactory conclusion. I understand the second half is different. I plan to finish, someday.

Kanokon: Various canid spirit beings have the hots for a middle schooler. Dropped.

Eromanga Sensei: Oreimo with the objectionable parts bowdlerized. Dropped.

Love Tyrant: Cupid falls in love, gets involved in a foursome. I finished it, because minimums must be acceptable, etc…

And to tell the truth, I even found myself going back and resurrecting things like School Live and Demon King Daimao.

 

 

 

Tanyastuff — 2

June 24, 2017

This is Part 2 of an on-going analysis of The Saga of Tanya the Evil. Subsequent entries will look at the story as laid out in the light novels.

A major factor in the rollout of Tanya’s War, and one I hadn’t considered earlier, is the structure of the Empire itself. In Tanya’s world we have a unitary Germanic empire. In our world, Central Europe was occupied by the German Hohenzollern Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire. It was the interactions between these two empires (plus the interlocking treaty obligations on both sides) that allowed what should have been a relatively minor Balkan skirmish to spiral out of control.

In our world, for a number of reasons, Austria wanted to expand its influence in the Balkans. They were afraid that Russia would actively oppose them, and asked Germany for support in preventing this. Germany gave them the famous blank check approval for any of their actions.

The first problem is, given the technology of the day, whoever mobilizes first can destroy their opponents, even if the opponents are part way through their own mobilization. So mobilization is essentially a declaration of war. The second problem is, once a country has mobilized, essentially all their neighbors are at risk. So Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia. Two days later, Austria, Serbia, and Russia all issued mobilization orders. Three days after that, Austria declared war on Serbia, and a week later, Germany (rejecting Russian protests that they were mobilizing against Serbia, not Germany) both started mobilizing and declared war on Russian. Roughly two weeks from assassination incident to WWI.

In Tanya’s world, the Empire isn’t dragged into a war by treaty obligations. They were engaged in an on-going border dispute with Legendia, part of the Scandinavian Entente. The Legendistas invade and are stopped by the the Imperials, including the newly-arrived reinforcements. So we have at least a partial mobilization aimed at the North. In order to permanently suppress the threat, the Empire goes to full mobilization and conducts a counter-invasion of the Entente. We could think of this as similar to Austria invading Serbia, except that the ‘pretext’ was a much more serious incident. In essence, the Empire gave itself a blank check.

At this point, of course, not-France also mobilizes, and invades the Empire. We are not told if this is a treaty requirement, or mere opportunism. The result is a slow-rolling development of a border skirmish into a world war.

The rest, as they say, is isekai.

 

TLDR — Gantz

June 19, 2017

Here’s how to watch Gantz: watch Episode 1 to convince yourself I’m right, then fast-forward through the rest, stopping only if the screen turns red, or black, or pink, depending on your interests.

Gantz is a two-cour anime from 2004. An alien-in-a-sphere makes copies of people as they die, and forces the copy-people to fight and kill things. That’s it. Collect people, put on fighting suits, go kill aliens and each other. If the screen is mostly black, that’s the fax-folk running around in their combat suits, looking for aliens. If it’s mostly red, they’ve found the aliens, or undeserving humans, and are eviscerating them, or maybe being eviscerated, it varies. If the screen is mostly pink, then it’s naked scenes, which don’t happen nearly often enough to make up for the red and the black. The rest of the time, the characters are shouting at each other about the morality of killing monsters and why aren’t the others doing more to help. Not enough pink to make up for that, either.

Red and Black
(At this point there’s about five minutes of yelling)

Gantz is available on Crunchyroll. In fast-forward mode, it’s about six minutes of play time between thumbnails, and about two and a half minutes of real time per episode. That means you can get through all 24 episodes in about an hour. Not counting pauses for pink, of course.

…and Pink
(Some more yelling here, as well)

What I like about Flying Witch

June 11, 2017

There are a number of reasons to like Flying Witch, beyond the clean art, the well-rounded characters, the mountain country music, and the true slice-of-life approach. Flying Witch seems to have made a deliberate choice to negate a number of standard anime tropes, and on the way, shows us how a great anime could be made.

non-Missing Parents: Unlike almost every modern life anime I’ve watched in the last ten years, both the parents are present. Even more rare, both parents have active roles in the series. Kuramoto Keiji, the father, is a farmer. He appears in most of the episodes, and is a strong supporting character, as opposed to being a walk-on extra. In Episode 3, he helps Makoto start a garden, and in Episode 10, he shows the girls how to thin apple blossoms.

Nana, the mother, is not only responsible for typical motherly things — she does the grocery shopping — but she also has her own career as a children’s book illustrator.

non-Loli Imouto: Kuramoto Chinatsu, the little sister, is a typical real-life little sister, not a nee-san besotted loli. It is difficult to express how refreshing that is. I think the only other anime I’ve seen with a realistic little sister is Haruhi. And, unlike Kyon’s un-named little sister, Chinatsu is a major member of the cast, and has her own half-episode, where she follows familiar Chito around the town.

non-Romantic Male Lead: I’m not even sure that Kuramoto Kei qualifies as a lead. He’s really just a strong supporting character (I think Chinatsu gets more screen time). In any event, he’s got zero romantic entanglements. The closest he comes is an offhand mention that the witch Inukai is kindof his type. In addition, he enjoys domestic activities, like cooking. He might be a great catch as a husband, but nobody’s chasing.

non-Romantic Childhood Friendship: Ishiwatari Nao is Kei’s childhood friend and high school classmate. There are zero romantic vibes between them, not even a subtle jealousy. In Episode 1, when Kei tells Nao that the new boarder is a girl their age, she simply says “lucky for you.” Later, when Makoto’s sister Akane tries to make them a couple, they both look at her like she was an idiot. She has her own life, and her part-time job is helping out at her parent’s store, which she does to help out, not because they’re poor and she has to be a provider.

no Fanservice: None. No beach episode. No walking in on someone taking a bath. No comparison of chest sizes. No nosebleeds.

Life-centric, not High School-centric: They are high school students. They go to high school. They might have club activities. But other than the opening ceremonies, in Episode 1, and the cooking class, in Episode 10, the school does not impact their activies at all.

Passing the Bechdel Test: Females are in the majority in Flying Witch (nine to two), they are all named, and they all talk to each other without mentioning the male characters. In the first episode, Makoto and Nao speak briefly about how self-centered Kei is, and that’s about the extent of it. The women are more interested in getting on with their lives than they are in worrying about what some man is doing.

The bottom line is, the Flying Witch flies in the face of traditional anime tropes, not by fighting them or parodying them, but by ignoring them. And that brings the story closer to real life. Of course parents play a big role in the lives of high school students. Of course people just out of childhood have childhood friends, and the fact is, much of high school life doesn’t involve romance. In real life, little sisters are little sisters, and as Araragi Koyomi has said, siscon is fantasy of those who don’t have little sisters.

Look at it this way: a live-action Flying Witch would make a great fantasy series, whereas a live action Toradora would be unbelievable, and a live action Oreimo would be just creepy. I’m hoping this marks the start of a new fad in anime.

Tanyastuff

June 6, 2017

One of the nice things about writing a blog by me for me is that I don’t have to go chasing after the Next Big Thing. I can sit and chew over a topic of interest. In this case, it’s continuing thoughts on The Saga of Tanya the Evil (Japanese title – Young Girl’s War Journal). Part of the reason for this is that even people who like the series get major parts of it wrong (Berry,over at Angry Anime Bitches is the only one who got Tanya mostly right). As I said the last time, Tanya isn’t really a female and “she” isn’t really evil. The body is that of a young girl, but the mind is a middle-aged Japanese salaryman. For that reason, I’ll refer to Tanya as he. And I’ll talk some more about the lack of evility.

Tanya is a good combat commander. At a personal level, he’s exceedingly brave. In Episode 7, he’s first out the door when they sky-dive into the fjord.


In Episode 9 he leads the V-1 strike,


and in Episode 10, he’s first into Facility A, a possible enemy headquarters bunker.

As a unit commander, Tanya exhibits a certain audacity. After taking out the Dakian command post (Episode 5), he decides, on his own initiative, to press on, strike the Dakian capital itself, and destroy a munitions factory there[1].

In Episode 11, he realizes that he’s the only one who knows what the Republican Fleet is up to (withdrawing the army to not-Algeria to continue the war). He decides to exploit a loophole in his status[2], ignore a Theater directive, and lead a V-1 strike on the embarkation port.

At a personal level, Tanya is not the sadistic killer that many make him out to be. Yes, there’s the incident at the training school, but the trainee involved had already said that ‘she’ reminded him of his little sister, and that he didn’t find her particularly scary.  Extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures.

In building his rapid response force, Tanya’s main goal was to avoid combat as long as possible. In this he is hampered by his lack of understanding of human nature. His recruiting poster was designed to discourage recruits[3], but instead attracted the most daring. His harsh training was designed to encourage them to drop out, but only succeeded in producing an elite, high esprit unit, a fact that leaves him somewhat befuddled.

Nothing that he did was hurtful simply for the sake of causing others pain. He is not, as some would have it, a Yoshikage Kira (from Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure) , because he’s not a natural killer.

From time to time, Tanya demonstrates deep personal concern for others. In Episode 7, he becomes positively insubordinate when he thinks the Northern Front is about to launch a major attack without proper supplies.

And even though it was his paper that exposed the loophole that allowed Imperial forces to destroy the city of Arene (Episode 8), he is not happy at being part of the operation, again to the point of insubordination. Nevertheless, he assuages his conscious with the Nuremberg Defense, and later, in a soliloquy on the train in Episode 9, he says that his hands are clean, ‘probably’.

The only things that make Tanya seem evil are the English title, the fact that it looks to be a nine-year-old girl doing these things, and that LtCol von Rerugen says ‘she’ is a monster in the form of a little girl, in both the first and the last episodes[4]. If the title were changed to Rambo Isekai[5], opinions would be totally different.

Finally, a reminder that the Empire Tanya fights for is not Nazi Germany, nor even Wilhemine Germany. They did not start out to conquer Europa. Instead, they were an existing empire that suddenly began to modernize, and to expand its economy. They were surrounded by countries that were ahead of them economically, a situation that usually leads to war on its own. These natural forces, helped along by Being X[6], were enough to coalesce the peripheral countries against the Empire.


[1]In Austro-Hungarian terms, that’s like stopping an invading army near Belgrade at lunchtime, and attacking Bucharest that night.

[2] His mission is to support the Theater forces, but he’s still under the command of Strategic Headquarters, and their task was for him to ‘test’ the V-1s.

[3]It is, in fact, a paraphrase of Shackleton’s supposed advertisement in a London newspaper, seeking volunteers for his Antarctic expedition: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

[4] There are some elements of the Wiki article that run counter to this, but those are based on the light novel, which I have not yet read.

[5] Isekai, or ‘alternate world’, is a light novel/anime genre where the protagonist somehow ends up in an alien or fantasy world.

[6]It’s not that Tanya doesn’t believe in God (although he doesn’t). It’s that he doesn’t believe that Being X is God, because of how absurd his creation is. As he said in Episode 2, if X is anything, it’s the Devil.

Anime Preview: Summer 2017

June 3, 2017

Unlike some others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art, and maybe a bit of the blurb. Consider yourself warned. If you want a real preview, pop on over to AniChart.

First, let’s say what’s normally not in here. Kids stuff, shorts, sequels to originals I didn’t like, anything with Isekai in the title; movies and OVA’s.

WILL WATCH: The the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

Also includes second seasons.

Owarimonogatari

Hey, it’s ~monogatari! Of course I’m watching it.

Centaur no Nayami

Slice of life in a world where centaurs are real and hair stylists are imaginary beings

Youkai Apartment

Invaders of the Rokujyoma meets The Kawai Complex Guide to Hostel Behavior

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

Princess Principal

A band of busty girls spy in London

Tenshi no 3P

A typical hikki boy and his all girl vocaloid church band

Vatican kiseki Chousakan

A beautiful girl and her all boy cryptographic church band

 

 

WON’T WATCH. The cover art / title / blurb tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

Battle Girl Highschool
Like Ikki Tousen except their clothes stay on

Hitorijime My Hero

A history of Japanese transport

Koi to Uso

Fish and Otters

18if

A group of refugee animators from Hand Shakers ends up at Studio Gonzo

Netsuzou Trap

Remember how well Yuri on Ice did, with no girls? Why don’t we try a Trap with no boys?

…and 35 more that didn’t even make the “I won’t watch” cut.

Tanya the Evil: Sub Rosa

April 30, 2017

In Episode 9, Tanya meets an old classmate, Major Uger, on a train to Strategic Headquarters. He’s assigned to the Railway Division at HQ, working for General Zettour. In the dining car, he fills Tanya in on the Empire’s secret plans for the next offensive.

Sub Rosa

Their talk is secret, and the producers found the perfect way to depict this.

The Rehabilitation of Tanya the Evil Part 2: Tanya

April 28, 2017

As I said in the first of these essays, the English title of this anime pre-judges the character, and primes the viewer to interpret her actions as evil. The Japanese title is better: Yojo Senki (幼女戦記), Young Girl’s War Record.

In the first episode, we drop into the hell of a WWI-style Western Front battle, and meet Tanya Degurechaff,  a hard-charging, hard-ass 2d Lieutenant who was drafted as a flying mage two years earlier (at the age of nine). The opening incident has her disciplining two officer candidates who disobeyed her orders (because they wanted to be heroes), by reassigning them to bunker duty. In another incident, she leaves her platoon, and an exhausted Corporal Viktoriya Serebryakov, in a support position, and then attacks (and wipes out) an enemy mage company on her own. This establishes her basic personality: by-the-book disciplinarian, superb flyer, heroic officer. Serebryakov idolizes her as the fairy of the battlefield.

Fairy 01

Members of the high command who have met her say she’s an evil demon. That’s probably because a combat attitude that would be laudable in a middle-aged officer sounds creepy when it’s an 11-year old girl.

Three down, nine to go

At this point, I am going to change the gendered pronoun to “him”, because in the second episode, we see that she isn’t really an 11-year old girl at all. “She” is a middle-aged Japanese salaryman who was reincarnated as the orphaned infant Tanya. Why did this happen? Our un-named salaryman is an atheistic, cold-hearted, by-the-book bureaucrat, interested only in furthering his own career. At the start of the episode, a man he’s just fired (for cause) pushes him in front of a train. In the frozen final instant of his life, he gets into an argument with God (who he calls Being X) over whether he exists [1]. As punishment for his lack of faith he is reincarnated as Tanya, and must find faith in God in this new life, or go to Hell forever. Think of Tanya as a male midget doing loli cosplay.

Tanya decides to fight Being X, refusing to have faith, and seeking his own solutions to all the many predicaments that X inflicts on him. His approach is to apply his knowledge of modern business practice to allow him to live a life of ease in the rear echelons [2]. This doesn’t always work, either because of the way the military bureaucracy works, or because Being X keeps interfering. The rest of the series captures Tanya’s efforts to make it work, and how they keep running afoul of X and the world.

Tanya Fights Back

The question that keeps coming up through all this is, is Tanya really a cruel and evil person? Let’s look at a series of events, ones where his actions are usually interpreted as evil, to see if they really are.

To start with, the first episode.  Ultimately, the two insubordinate soldiers are killed when their bunker is blown up, the strong implication being that the assignment was a death sentence. The real point is, no combat commander will keep a soldier in their unit who wants to be a hero. That kind of person usually gets others killed, before being killed themselves, and to no good end. Tanya recognized this, and shuffled them off to a place where that kind of heroism won’t hurt people. Since we are talking about a WWI Western Front style of war, bunkers are as risky a place to be as any other, but somebody has to man them. And when he tells his platoon to provide backup, and then defeats the enemy company on his own, it’s not because he cares that they are exhausted, it’s because it would look bad on his record if he got a lot of his troops killed.

One reason Tanya is seen as evil is his seeming disregard for civilian casualties. The anime producer’s attitude toward this stems from the modern media attention to the topic, which disregards military reality. My guess is that more civilians than soldiers have been killed since the start of the modern era in WWI. The fact is that if civilians are in the way, then they are legitimate targets. A standard question on Rules of War exams in military school goes something like: “A civilian telephone exchange in the middle of a city is used for passing military commands. Is it OK to attack it?” The answer is, yes, of course.

In the raid on the Dakian capital munitions factory, Tanya indulges in an acceptable ruse du guerre — presenting a required warning of an attack in a form that sounds like a childish prank[3]. The result is the death of civilians who were working in the factory — persons who are legitimate targets anyway. Of course, his triumphant cry after the factory blows up indicates a certain lack of empathy[4].

Tamaya!

Later, Tanya exploits loopholes in the rules about shelling occupied cities to bombard Arene City, where enemy troops are using the civilians as shields and partisan groups are hiding in the vacant buildings, despite the presence of large numbers of civilians. In our world, the mere presence of enemy troops would be reason enough. What makes this attack seem doubly devilish is the fact that it’s based on a paper that he wrote while a student at the Military Academy.

Throughout the series, Tanya does laudable things more or less in passing, for personal motives. He nominates Viktoriya Serebryakov for officer’s school because he wants to be known as someone who takes care of his troops. He hangs around the Military Academy library in hopes of making an impression on senior officers. Also while at the Academy he kindly tells Captain Uger, a classmate (and possible competitor), that as an intelligent person with a conscience (and a new daughter), he should be at the rear, helping to end the war (and removing himself from the promotion track). One should always use persuasion when the other person is mentally defenseless.

On the other hand, Tanya expresses a dislike for war and killing, on several occasions. At the very beginning, he says he objects to war as inefficient. In the episode on the bombardment of Arene City, he becomes almost insubordinant. Towards the end, when he is contemplating victory, and just before Being X springs an expanded war on him, he looks forward to the joys of peacetime.

Our conclusion has to be that Tanya is not an evil monster, despite the fact that the last words of the anime call him that. He is cold, unfeeling, incapable of empathy, totally self-centered, and proud of his work ethic. But he plays strictly within the rules, even though he may play so close to the edge that he gets chalk dust on his socks. His goal is a quiet, comfortable life, un-bothered by Being X. If that means ending the war, then he will do everything within his power to make that happen. If Being X continues to oppose him, then Tanya will do everything he can to defeat Being X.

Tanya declares war on God


  1. Since Being X admits that administering to 7 billion people is beyond its capability, it presumably is god-like, but not a true, Western-style omnipotent God.
  2. That’s why this program has been called the Moshidora of reincarnation anime.
  3. Doubly effective, because, as some have said, the first part of her warning was taken directly from the Japanese school sports pledge.
  4. Tamaya is the name of a major Japanese fireworks family, and is a favorite crowd cry after a particularly good display.

See also Tanya the Evil: Sub Rosa

The Rehabilitation of Tanya the Evil Part 1: the Empire

April 15, 2017

The English title of this anime: The Saga of Tanya the Evil is, to my way of thought, a misnomer and misleading. It pre-judges the character, and primes the viewer for one interpretation of her actions. The Japanese title Yojo Senki (幼女戦記), Young Girl’s War Record, is more neutral, but not as clickable. The anime is the story of the impact of this girl on a war, and vice-versa. Because of the title, most commentators assume that both Tanya and the Empire are evil. It’s not that simple. Let’s take the Empire first.

At a high level, the world of Tanya is an alternate universe to our own. It is 1925, and Europa is sliding into a war similar to WWI, with some elements of WWII.

(more…)

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2017 Part 2

April 10, 2017

I tried some other shows, when Crunchyroll finally broadcast them. Some didn’t fare as well as others.

Hinako Note: Country girl comes to the big city to go to high school. Is better at talking to animals than people, and has a tendency to freeze with her arms out straight, like a scarecrow, when flustered. Sounds like a good way to get your pockets picked. Meets four other girls in her dorm and at some point they will decide to put on a show (it’s too far to use my father’s barn). Would have been a soothing slice of life, if it wasn’t for the eternally squeaky voices and the stupid scarecrow shtick.

Eromanga Sensei: Japan is full of middle- and high- school students making a living as light novel authors and mangaka, which is good for their futures because I’ve never seen one do a lick of homework. Even primary school girls can make it big, drawing erotic art for magazines and LNs. Presumably, they get their subjects from various online websites — although some 12 year olds take selfies of their butts and use that as the basis for drawings they post online, and tell me how that doesn’t violate half a dozen laws.

It should not be all that rare, then, for the 12 year old little sister to turn out to be the one who is drawing erotic art for the 15 year old big brother’s best selling novels. Think, Oreimo with a business relationship.

Tsugumomo: The story of a mama’s boy with an obi fetish — he carries his late mother’s obi everywhere, even to school. Thirty seconds into the main story, they’ve already hit two classic anime tropes, the accidental boob clutch followed by the accidental panty shot, with extra points for chaining the events. Two minutes after that, Our Protagonist is subject to attempted tentacle rape from a marauding wig, but is saved by the Goddess of the Obi, Tsugumomo (つぐもも) which, as far as I can tell means next generation peach. She subjugates him, moves in, shares the bath, shares the bed, hogs the Playstation. Meanwhile, his little sister, who wants to share the bath, share the bed, and to hell with the Playstation, is getting suspicious.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2017

April 7, 2017

There are some anime that are so off-putting that there’s no reason to invoke the three episode rule. The four anime that follow might not be bad, but they are certainly not my cup of tea.

1. The Royal Tutor: There’s a new tutor in town. Looks like a kid but is a grown man (there’s lots of hormonal balance mutations in Japan). Tutor to four princes, of various degrees of snottery, apparently born 9 months and 15 minutes apart. Oldest one looks like a romance novel cover, and talks like he’s lost one too many mace battles. Shorty Tutorpants will outsmart them all — and of course, that’s the problem.

2. Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor: There’s a certain kind of character, with too high an opinion of themselves and hair that won’t stay off of their forehead. A simple three-finger toss of the hair and the head will unerringly identify them. This one’s an incompetent cad. Unless they are planning on doing a body swap with Oda Nobunaga in Episode 2, I see no possibility of redeeming this train wreck. Did I mention the female student uniforms make KanColle look like nuns?

3. GranBlue Fantasy: Generic girl-with-powers escapes from secret lab. Lab is in a Pilot’s Love Song-style Airborne Battle Cruiser. Girl lands near generic village. Generic boy finds her. They, and her generic (female) knight companion, are surrounded by troops from the ABC, led by generic foppish captain with a falsetto voice. Generic ending with Boy merging life forces with Girl, beating the snot out of the Troops and heading off for a Secret Location known only to everyone in the village. Generic.

Paul Robeson sang “Joe Hill” next to this cottage

4. Silver Guardian: While the scantily-clad maidens of the Maidenly Academy for Young Maidens sleep quietly in their maidendorm, a boy is fighting for their survival, unbeknownst to all but the maidenly dorm mom. When the pyramidical tomb he is guarding is surrounded and attacked by thousands of undead, he does the logical thing by taking out his magical swords and attacking the throngs in front of the stonepile, evidently forgetting that there is a back entrance. In fact, there’s a front entrance that’s left unguarded while he’s half a mile away, whacking off zombie heads. Fortunately, the zombies are missing, you know, brains.

OK, I lied. They’re bad.

Anime Postview: Winter 2017

April 5, 2017

This is not a real review of the anime season just ending. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Winter 2017 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

It was a fun season, but not because of any of the shows I picked back in December.

Ones I said I WILL WATCH:

Chaos;Child didn’t last even one episode. Confirmed my suspicion that anime with a semicolon in the title are not worth watching.

Fuuka lasted two and a half episodes. All the characters are self-centered snots, and I never did like “let’s form a band” anime anyway.

Little Witch wasn’t available. It’s streaming on Netflix and we don’t subscribe.

Ones I said I MIGHT WATCH:

Kuzu no Honkai wasn’t available. It’s behind the Amazon double paywall.

Seiren lasted four episodes. It’s a pale reflection of its predecessor.

Dragon Maid Finally, a show worth watching. Among the top two for the season.

Ones I said I WON’T WATCH:

ACCA. I tried it. It was actually pretty good but couldn’t hold my interest for some reason. Maybe later.

Minami K. Quick peek confirms — worse than I thought. Given their demonstrated levels of intelligence, I’m surprised they can balance on a tricycle.

Marginal. No idea. I didn’t even try it. Idols.

So, there we are. Of the six that I checked out, one was worth watching. Of course, there were four other shows that didn’t appear in the preview, for some reason, that turned out to be pretty good: Monster Girls, Tanya the Evil, Gabriel Dropout, and Konosuba 2. So the season wasn’t a complete loss.

Anime Preview: Spring 2017

March 15, 2017

Unlike some others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art, and maybe a bit of the blurb. Consider yourself warned. If you want a real preview, pop on over to AniChart.

First, let’s say what’s normally not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (Berserk 2), most kids stuff (Snack World), anything with idol in the description or Re: in the title; movies and OVA’s.

WILL WATCH: The the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

Also includes second seasons.

Saekano 2

Doing for gal-games what Shirobako did for anime

Uchouten Kazoku 2

Benten disturbs the peace of Kyoto’s shadow world of tanuki and tengu

Shuumatsu Nani

After 500 years, the fashion industry still hasn’t solved the problem of hats.

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

Nanatsu no Taizai

Lucifer tempts people with his bosom

Sekaisuru

Cosplayer attends college. Note: Sekai means world, and suru turns any word into a verb, so Worlding?

Tsuki ga Kirei

Boy stalks girl beneath the cherry blossoms

 

 

WON’T WATCH. The cover art / title / blurb tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

Dungeon ni Deai

Warrior babes invade dungeons wearing bikinis

 

Love Kome

Five bishies who really love their rice

Tsugumomo

Boy falls in love with his mother’s scarf

Sakura Quest

80 years after Sakura Taisen, the demons are reduced to rural mascots, and the Teikoku Kagekidan is now a locodol group

Warau Salesman New

Them teeth

…and 41 more that didn’t even make the “I won’t watch” cut.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished: Seiren

February 18, 2017

A lot of anime are adaptations of Visual Novel originals. The problem with adapting  a VN into a twelve-episode anime is that they almost all are multi-track — work you way through while romancing girl A, then go back and do the same with girl B. The question for an anime studio is, how do we handle this during an adaptation?

One way is to pick one girl and follow her to the end, with all the other girls having walk-on parts. Clannad is a good example. The upside is, the story can devote twelve whole episodes to the budding romance. The downside is is, everyone who likes girl B, or C, or …. will be disappointed.

A second approach, call it the Kanon model, is to keep one girl on the main track, even if it disappears into the background for a bit, and give the other girls their own arcs, without ever promising them romance. This requires a certain skill in balancing the screen time and keeping the main heroine as the obvious favorite.

Finally, we have the omnibus approach, famous in Amagami and Photo Kano, and (this season) Seiren. Each girl gets a turn at romance, and after three or four episodes rides off into the sunset with the protagonist. Then we reset, and go through the whole thing with some new girl. It’s like a collection of short stories instead of a novel. The problem with the omnibus approach is twofold, or maybe three.

photokanogirls

First, they are short stories. There’s no depth, no chance to develop characters. The four episodes tend to run to a pattern: boy meets girl; boy and girl hit it off; boy and girl encounter insurmountable relational problems; boy and girl decide to get married.

amagagamigirls

Second, they use the same cast in different roles across different arcs. It’s kind of an ensemble production — like some of the old Murder, She Wrote programs, where the bad guy one week is an old family friend the next. It’s not just that the main heroine changes, that’s to be expected, it’s that our protagonist’s male friend one arc is a complete stranger the next one. Or maybe they play video games one arc, and the next one he’s off on the soccer team. It makes for a certain mental whiplash.

seirengirls

After a while, they all look alike

Finally, and this is a particular problem with Seiren, the protagonist might or might not be the same personality from one arc to the next. In Amagami and Photo Kano, the protagonist was the same person, with the same goals and hangups: in Amagami, he was recovering from having been stood up for a Christmas Date; in Photo Kano he was a camera nut. In each arc we get to see alternative ways he can work through his life problems. In Seiren, he’s a different guy each time.

This season, Seiren is sandwiched in between Tanya the Evil and Demi-chan, and it doesn’t really fill an anime-watching need.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished: Yozakura Quartet

February 6, 2017

Yozakura Quartet
A one cours anime from 2010. Not so much bad as very much not my demographic. Two-thirds of a century ago, maybe, but now, if I had the ability to try-before-buy (say, via Crunchyroll or Funimation), I would not have bought it.

On second thought, no — it’s bad. It’s about a group of humans and half-demons who bond socially to fight other half-demons (the anti-social ones) to drive them to the other side and to protect the six sacred sakura stumps that (sortof) guard the town from demons.

I guess you’d call this a shonen fighter, appealing mostly to middle-school boys, because every episode features a battle of some sort. The trouble is, all the fights are the same: each protagonist takes turns fighting the demon, instead of ganging up on them; everyone spends most of the time talking, and the demons spend their talk time gloating; and about a third of the combat dialogue by the protagonists involves shouting the name of one of the others (the one who is currently getting the individual snot beat out of them).

The spikey hair is a dead giveaway

The spikey hair is a dead giveaway

The art is crude, and the animation is minimalist. The funniest scene was when the womanising land god who looks after the town (but doesn’t actually do anything to protect it) visits the festival to see if there are any pretty girls to romance, and runs into a couple of 70 year olds who fondly remember dallying with him some decades earlier. Always embarrassing.

It was not available for preview on Crunchyroll or Funimation, but there had been some good reviews on-line, back in the day (and one of the characters was voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki), so when it came on sale on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, I bought it. I made it halfway through Episode 7 and gave up. Life is too short, and Amazon Prime is streaming Highschool Of The Dead.

Shirobako and “cuts” in anime

January 20, 2017

This is mostly based on information found on Sakuga Blog, and is presented separately here, primarily as a way of organizing my own thoughts on the subject.

If you have watched the meta-anime Shirobako, you know that cuts are the International Standard unit of measure in anime production. In Shirobako, almost every animator assignment is based on cuts, and the difficulty of an assignment is rated in how heavy (complex) the cuts are. So, like Noah and cubits, my first questions what’s a cut?

I have been looking for a definition of the word ever since Shiro came out. Finally, Sakuga Blog has one, with a couple of really good examples:

Cuts in anime are basically the same as shots in movies – continuous looks at the events. Multiple of them are used to comprise a sequence, and they can be short or long depending on the type of scene (though the latter are rare, since anime’s production model would require a single animator to handle way too many consecutive keyframes). The easiest way to explain them is through examples, so let’s take a look at two recent uploads on the booru: this upload is composed of three cuts (0:00 – 0:09, 0:09 – 0:12, and 0:12 – 0:23), while this upload is one single cut. Another way to think about it is simply the “camera” switching to another position; a cut can move the POV, but it ends the moment it cuts to a different one.

So, if I understand the process correctly, the director sketches out the start of each cut as part of a storyboard:

We'll need 100 horses

We’ll need 100 horses

Then the key animators draw major changes in the positions of characters within a cut

shirobakokeyframe

And finally, the in-between-ers draw each frame of the 24fps animation to move from one position to another, and color and backgrounds are added.

shirobakofinal02

So this (non-Shirobako) sequence, from the Sakugabooru blog, looks like it shows development of a single cut. The original storyboard and key animation are at the top, at the bottom, you have the in-betweens drawn in and the background, with the final coloring.

Anime I’m watching — Winter 2017

January 17, 2017

Not counting OVAs or shorts, AniChart shows 50 anime airing this season. I started out watching 15, which rapidly dropped to eleven worth mentioning, and has now levelled off at six. Three are slice-of-life “monster” comedies, two are isekai, and one is a straight high school harem romance.

Demi-Chan wa Kataritai — Monster girls go to high school. Unlike Monster Musume, the previous entry in this genre, the girls are not part of a harem, and they are not oversexualized. The male human POV character is an adult teacher, who pretty much acts like one. The number of monster girls is limited: student vampire, snow maiden, and dullahan; math teacher succubus. So far, we’ve only gotten a look at the vampire and dullahan. They are typical high school girls, sometimes mischievous, sometimes prone to getting a crush on their teacher.

The Japanese seem to be fascinated with the dullahan concept, the headless horseman of Irish folklore. Last year’s Konosuba had one who was an evil lord*, while dullahan Celty was one of the stars of Durarara. Demi-chan treats it more like a disability, addressing questions like, what happens when your body is at home but not close to the toilet, while your head is on a date, drinking soda?

If you spend too much time saying goodbye, some of you can miss your train

If you spend too much time saying goodbye,
some of you can miss your train

Things may heat up next week, when we learn about sex and the single succubus.

Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid — All about, well, Kobayashi, and her live-in maid, who is also a dragon. As with few other shows, this is about adults, who work, and drink, and have a life, and don’t go to high school. The lead human, Kobayashi, reminded me a little bit of Kaoru, from I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying, even though the character designs were quite different. It turns out that both of these anime were based on manga by the same author, Cool-kyō Shinja. So far, it’s slice-of-life, with dragon jokes. Also maid jokes.

dragonmaid01 dragonmaid03 dragonmaid02

Gabriel Dropout — Not exactly a monster, Gabriel is an angel, tops in her class at angel middle school, who is sent down to Earth to go to high school and live with humans and learn about them. Unfortunately, she gets enamoured of computer RPG’s, and by the end of the first episode is well on her way to dropping out and becoming not only a NEET, but evil**.

In some ways, she’s a typical high school girl who, for example, doesn’t want to leave any witnesses to an unfortunate teleportation event with her pantsus.

Collateral damage

Collateral damage

Konosuba, Season 2 — A second season for the high school boy who died and was reincarnated in a fantasy world with the mission of defeating the Demon King. He’s still teamed up with a set of companions who are powerful but useless — water goddess who can do a fan dance with water, explosion wizard who can produce only one blast a day, masochistic knight who can take loads of punishment but can’t hit anything with her sword.

The default facial expressions

The default facial expressions

Seiren — High school harem romance, in the Amagami SS tradition. It’s based on a visual novel, so there’s multiple girls to pursue. It’s in omnibus format, which means that instead of picking one girl, the way Kanon and Clannad do, the 12 episodes are really three short stories of 4 episodes each, so the protagonist can win three different girls. Think of it as parallel universes.

Three of these girls will be the lucky winner. More, if there's a second season

Three of these girls will be the lucky winner.
More, if there’s a second season

The Saga of Tanya the Evil — A first season for the salaryman who died and was reincarnated in a fantasy world after getting into an argument with God over whether he exists or not. Since he’s applying his former-life cuthroat-management techniques to his new situation, this has been called the Moshidora of reincarnation anime.

Izetta, she ain't

Izetta, she ain’t

He ends up as an evil***, magic-using warloli soldier who is trying to establish a place for herself in the rear echelon of a war very like WWI. Of course, all her efforts only make her a hero, likely to be pushed into the front lines.


* How evil? He used to bowl his head down the hall so that it came to a stop looking up a maid’s skirts. You don’t get much more evil than that.

** How evil? More evil than the demon student who threw a plastic bottle in the recycling without removing the cap.

*** How evil? Evil enough to get it into his nickname.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2017 Part 2

January 15, 2017

It’s a long weekend, so here’s the second increment of stuff I’m no longer watching.

ACCA — Late 1930’s European feel to this one, or maybe immediately post-war, despite the computers. Official in the auditing branch of the nationwide public services organization gets involved in complex intragovernment plot. Uniforms scream “Nazi SS”, but the reality (at least, below the scheming leadership) feels more like a normal government bureaucracy/police procedural. Looks to be targeted at a very adult demographic. For some reason it just couldn’t hold my interest, and the fact that a map of the continent they are on looks exactly like a chicken has nothing to do with it.

We'll arrest the ... usual suspects

We’ll arrest the … usual suspects

Masamune-kun’s Revenge — Spoiled boy decides to get back at spoiled girl who rejected him in grade school by romancing her in high school and rejecting her once she falls for him. Spoilers say his clever plan collapses when they end up falling for each other. Neither one of them is the kind of person you’d want on your friends list.

Chaos;Child — OK, I admit it. Every semicolon anime since Stein’s;Gate has been confused, poorly organized, and overly gory, with totally unrelatable characters, and C;C maintains their record, unblemished.

SpiritPact — Insufferably dense idiot dies and is offered a perpetual job working for an insufferably smug exorcist fighting evil demons who are the suffering souls of the newly dead. Suffering.

Minami Kamakura … Bu — High school girls cycling club, best described as a 12-episode ad for the Kamakura Chamber of Commerce. Characters are squeaky-voiced idiots and the plot is non-existent, but the artwork is pretty.

Looks like parts of Germany

Looks like parts of Germany

REGRETTABLY ABSENT

I’m not watching these, not because they are not good, but because they are not available to me. Now that anime has grown enough to be of interest to the big boys, instead of being a niche for otaku, the majors are shouldering their way in, looking for a slice of that $60 a disk anime pie. The business model seems to be to pay lots of money for the cream of the anime crop, leaving sites like Crunchyroll with Hand-Shakers, and other dregs.

Netflix, of which I am probably the only person in Christendom who doesn’t have a subscription, has licensed Little Witch Academia.

Amazon has come up with a double, maybe triple, whammy. 1. They have an exclusive license to a big chunk of Noitamina’s catalog, 2. It’s behind the Amazon Prime $100/year paywall, 3. and the Anime Strike $5/month paywall. Depending on their marketing plan, some properties (Great Passage) may be available in other countries (UK) before they are available in the US. In addition to GP, this season’s batch includes Scum’s Wish and Onihei, as well as the ever-popular Vivid Strike (OK, so maybe not totally cream).

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2017 Part 1

January 13, 2017

So far, the Winter season of 2017 has given us a disappointment in almost every genre.

Hand Shakers — Clueless HS student forced to fight unknown enemies for unknown reasons in intersecting parallel dimension. Male combatants evoke their combat prowess by fighting hand-in-hand with a female counterpart. Or sometimes foot-in-crotch. Characters are animated in 3DCG by a team that never looked at what either the backgrounders or the special effects parts of the team were doing. Plus, they know nothing about the physics of fluid-filled spheres.

Remember, it's not assault if she sounds like she's enjoying it.

Remember, it’s not assault if she sounds like she is enjoying it.

Akiba Strip — Poor man’s Ikki Tousen. Protagonists beat the outerwear off demons from an intersecting parallel dimension disguised as beautiful girls, who then get all burned up over it. In most cases, the outerwear barely covers the underwear, so the exact destruction mechanism is as obscure as the reasoning behind the existence of this show.

Remember, it's not assault if they're demons in disguise

Remember, it’s not assault if you claim they’re demons in disguise

Chain Chronicles — Multiple multi-racial armies assault insanely-evil-mage-king’s castle in a bid to get a small group of heroes inside to kill the IEMK and recover a magical tome. Heroes choose the heroic option and attack IEMK one at a time. Heroes get their collective ass handed to them. Final tug of war between IEMK and his insanely-evil-mage-king’s-daughter over magical tome ends with the book being torn in half. After which, all the MMRAs, along with the IEMKD and the halfbook ride slowly away. To be followed by ten episodes of recriminations.

Good thing none of you is smart enough to sneak up on me through the smoke

Good thing none of you is smart enough to sneak up on me through the smoke

Schoolgirl Strikers — Not-exactly-magical girls (see Luck and Logic) travel to an intersecting parallel dimension to fight monsters that look like they were the result of a failed genetics programming algorithm for generating monster art.

We're not magical girls. Don't call us magical girls.

We’re not magical girls. Don’t call us magical girls.

Fuuka —  Group of students decide to start a band, unfortunately in this dimension. Others have done it better.

I know! Let's put on a show! We can use my father's barn!!

I know! Let’s put on a show!
We can use my father’s barn!!

The financial side of anime

January 3, 2017

Over on Sakuga Blog there’s an interesting article on the financials of the anime industry. It appears to be based primarily on sales and so forth in Japan, with one chart on international revenues. The recent trends seem to be up, which is encouraging. The trends in home video, however, are down, and likely to continue that way. Which is sad.

Home video refers to physical purchase of DVDs and BDs, as opposed to streaming. The big differences are, of course, instant customer gratification and zero inventory requirements for streaming, with production delays and inventory risks for disk production.

I prefer physical disks for my favorite shows. Streaming is a problematical solution, because of licensing restrictions and changes in business models and marketing strategies. If I have a disk, I own it forever. If I have a streaming subscription, I ‘own’ the anime until it ages out.

In terms of packaging and delivery, the Japanese model has been to release disks with only a few episodes on them, at what Americans used to consider exorbitant prices. For example, right now on amazon.co.jp, volume 1 of Shirobako (three episodes, roughly 72minutes of programming) costs ¥5400 (a reduction from the original ¥8400), or about $0.64/minute. The article talks about how this is slowly changing, to a business model with more episodes per disk. What the article doesn’t address is the transfer of Japanese program packaging and pricing into the North American market.

For example, in the U.S., as recently as 2008, highly rated shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Mushishi would sell as full series boxed sets for about $50 for 650 minutes, or $0.08 per minute. Now, Nekomonogatari White is selling what equates to less than half a season (5 episodes, 125min) for $80 for the BD version. That’s also $0.64 per minute. And the much less highly rated Saekano (How to raise a boring girlfriend) is selling in single episode sets at about a dollar a minute in Japan, with the first six episodes on BD in the U.S. going for $0.64/minute.

My forecast is that sales of physical disks in the U.S. market are likely to drop much more than in Japan, given both the increased availability of streaming and the higher price per minute of the disks. I guess the anime sales departments right now are testing the price elasticity of demand, and will have to learn through experience if the increased revenue per disk will offset the decline in unit sales.

Anime Postview: Fall 2016

December 29, 2016

This is not a real review of the Fall anime season. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Fall 2016 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

Overall, it was a pretty thin season, with only about six out of sixty shows falling into the watchable category. No particular standouts, except that everybody but me thought that Yuri On Ice was wonderful. I thought what I watched of it was pretty good, but it just didn’t engage my interest. Maybe not enough yuris.

So, how did I do on my Will Watch group? Looks like I’m two out of three for this one, if you count meh as an acceptable rating. Touken Ranbou turned out to be SwordColle — a bunch of bishies who used to be swords.

Fast talking high school student with his own anti-occult website turns out to be a ghost who doesn’t know he’s a ghost in a crowd of other ghosts, solves a mystery about ghosts and thwarts the plots of an evil emperor to control the afterlife using ghosts. Surprisingly subdued climax.

From a straight mechanics standpoint, things went too fast for a subtitle-reader to follow. I had a choice of reading the bottom of the screen, or seeing what was happening on the rest of it. Too many expository dumps. Monogatari could pull it off. Not so the ; gang.

Otherwise, imaginative use of ghosts.

Occultic;Nine

Cast of Lost Village ends up in a library. Adds semicolons to their list of personal phobias

———————————————

Shuumatsu no Izetta

Don't worry. Love will break our fall. ———————————————

Yep, Witches und Panzers. Great premise — witch fighting WWII — squandered on poorly structured plot and non-useful fanservice, with hokey post-ending  ending. Potentially one of the best of the Season, it turned out to be merely entertaining.

After all, how often do you get to see a cute, red-headed witch flying around on an anti-tank rifle?

 

For the  Might Watch group I pulled another two out of three as well. Keijo was just too too silly, with too many butts and too many boobs, and too much sports. Probably was a favorite in the frat houses.

A random crawl through psycho-space. Think, FLCL meets Magical Girls.  Friend of a girl’s mother from her past rescues the girl from her mother in an alternate dimension that somehow interacts with this one. Probably my favorite new show of the Season, which shows you how thin the season was.

The graphics make you feel like you’re lost in Mandelbrot’s sink trap.

Flip Flappers

Girls who are too poor to own stockings, and have to dress in tea towels find happiness in floral displays———————————————

Brave Witches

Girls who are too poor to own underwear bravely fly combat missions at 25,000ft. Huddle together to keep warm———————————————

Can’t go wrong with a Strike Witches spinoff. This one is set in the NorthEast Theater and features lots of flying over snow-covered terrain in their pantsus. The character development side concerns itself with the efforts of Karibuchi Hikari to prove herself a worthy replacement for her sister.

If you liked Strike Witches, you’ll like this one. Not great, but entertaining.

As for the Won’t Watch group, I think I can say I’m three out of three. Well, Long Riders was on a different channel, and I never looked at Tiger in the Hole!. On the other hand, everybody in the world liked Yuri, but I like my yuri with more girls in it. So, maybe two out of three.

That gives me four out of six, or maybe six out of nine. The Federal Reserve should hope they get that many forecasts correct.

Not included in the Preview, because it was a sequel, was the second season of Sound! Euphonium. Excellent, but not as good as the first season. Did have a marvellous episode that was almost all straight music. Way, way too late I found this site, with commentary by a professional musician.

Anime Preview: Winter 2017

December 6, 2016

Unlike some others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art, and maybe a bit of the blurb. Consider yourself warned. If you want a real preview, pop on over to AniChart.

First, let’s say what’s normally not in here. Sequels, particularly to stuff I didn’t like before (Super Lovers), most kids stuff (Kemono Friends), anything with idol in the description, movies and OVA’s.

 

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

Chaos;Child

The semicolon series discovers alliteration

The semicolon series discovers alliteration

Fuuka

The cast of Mekakucity Actors is reunited and goes on tour.

The cast of Mekakucity Actors is reunited and goes on tour.

Little Witch Academica

Cute girls doing cute things on broomsticks

Cute girls doing cute things. On broomsticks

 

 

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

Kuzu no Honkai

The title seems to translate as

The title seems to translate as “a formal meeting about hanging chad”

Seiren

If Kimikiss and Amagami had six cute daughters...

If Kimikiss and Amagami had six cute daughters…

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon

Cute girl has cute dragon as her cute maid. Cute.

Cute girl has cute dragon as her cute maid. Cute.

 

WON’T WATCH. The cover art / title / blurb tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic. Marginal #4

Brought to you by the Crayola Company

Brought to you by the Crayola Company

ACCA: 13-ku

Any anime where the summary is three paragraphs of org chart should not be allowed

Any anime where the summary is three paragraphs of org chart should not be allowed


Minami Kamakura

Girls und Bicycles

Girls und Bicycles

…and 30 more that didn’t even make the “I won’t watch” cut.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2016

October 17, 2016

A second pass through the season drops some more.

March comes in like a lion: A prequel to Your lie in April, shows Arima Kōsei when he was going by the name of Kiriyama Rei and making a living playing shogi instead of being a piano player. No indication as to how many of the cute girls he’s involved with will die of AWD (Anime Wasting Disease).

March

March

April

April

Occultic;Nine: The guy who gave us the excellent Stein’s;Gate, and then missed with a long string of other semicolon stories tries again. Weird occult blogger accretes a team of weirdos to solve weird mysteries. The character designs tell you all you need to know. Weird.

If those buttons go, we're all gonna;die

If those buttons go, we’re all gonna;die

ClassicaLoid: Think vocaloids with better composers but worse directors. Beethoven, Mozart, mechas, and a construction crew all dance while their house plays musique.

You should see who's dancing with the secretary bird

You should see who’s dancing with the secretary bird

Drifters: Great warriors of history pulled into alternative afterworlds to fight the Enders. Think, Death Parade meets Nobunaga the Fool.

L to R we have: Shimazu Toyohisa, the protagonist, Oda Nobunaga, the famous pirate, and Nasu no Yoichi, the trap

L to R we have: Shimazu Toyohisa, the protagonist, Oda Nobunaga, the famous pirate, and Nasu no Yoichi, the trap

TL:DR — Dropping my shorts, Fall 2016

October 11, 2016

So, not all the mediocre, bad, or just plain uninteresting anime comes as long-form 23min episodes. Much of it now appears as short features, as if the creators knew the worth of what they were doing and wanted to minimize the impact on humankind.

Four that were just dumb:

Cheating Craft: How to cheat on exams, with the usual perfunctory "This is bad" warning.

Cheating Craft: How to cheat on exams, with the usual perfunctory “This is bad” warning.

Soul Buster: Cardfights between the souls of ancient Chinese warriors. Like Ikki Tousen without the fanservice.

Soul Buster: Cardfights between the souls of ancient Chinese warriors. Like Ikki Tousen without the fanservice.

Kiitaro's Yokai Diary: Sibling rivalry over household chores ignites demon wars. As usual.

Kiitaro’s Yokai Diary: Sibling rivalry over household chores ignites demon wars. As usual.

Miss Bernard Says: How many book references can you fit into three and a half minutes?

Miss Bernard Says: How many book references can you fit into three and a half minutes?

Two that were bound to offend somebody:

To Be Hero: Eight minutes of toilet jokes

To Be Hero: Eight minutes of toilet jokes

My wife is the student body President: Eight minutes of boob jokes.

My wife is the student body President: Eight minutes of boob jokes.

And one that could have been a contender:

Old woodblock drawings as anime. Good idea, poorly executed.

Sengokuchojyugiga:Old woodblock drawings as anime. Good idea, poorly executed.

Happy Birthday Haruhi

October 8, 2016

HaruhiSuzumiya02According to the light novel, Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒ Suzumiya Haruhi) entered North High in April of 2003. Other sources report that her birthday was October 8th, so she presumably was 16 in 2002, and so was born in 1986. That makes her 30 years old today. She’s now an adult, middle-aged, having graduated college nine years ago, probably married Kyon, and now has a couple of kids, named Natsu and Aki. How fleeting are the days of youth.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2016

October 3, 2016

It’s always a relief when I can clear my calendar early. The first week isn’t over, and already I’ve dropped four anime, and two whole categories! The first thing to go is, Time Travel!!

Touken Ranbu.
Remember that show with girls who were the embodiment of boats? The one that all the boys loved? Let’s do one for the girls! We can have boys, who are the embodiment of … of … swords! And nobody will know it’s a ripoff, because we’ll have them fight to preserve history, not to avoid it! That’ll fool ’em! And we can have thousands of bishies, because there were thousands of swords.

And there's seven more, even cuter!

And there’s seven more, even cuter!

It will make for a complex anime, but we can start with an eleven minute expository dump, and have them clean off in the bath afterwards.

Your purification ritual lacks dignity

Your purification ritual lacks dignity
(and your towel is much bigger than necessary)

And since all that the girls really want is good artwork of cute boys, we don’t have to spend money to make exciting action scenes, just lots of closeups.  And these swordboys will have a leader, who you will never see, so that every girl can pretend it’s her. And, here’s the best part — we can call it SwordColle!

We can’t?

Time Bokan 24
You know, I’m thinking that time travel might be the Next Big Thing, now that little sisters have had their run. Remember last season, where that girl went around propositioning various great names from history? Suppose we get ahead of the pack and do another one for kids. We can make it the usual [insert name here] schoolboy, who is one of the few who can survive a time leap, because time means nothing to him, just look at his tardy record!

Another high impact moment

Another high impact moment

And then we’ll have an evil publisher trying to keep the time travellers from finding out what the real history was, so they don’t have to rewrite the history books, and issue new editions, and make everyone throw the old ones away and buy the new ones, and thus have a perpetual income stream. No…wait.  Well, they’re just kids, they’ll never notice.

And nobody else will even think of doing a time travel anime this season!


The second category to drop is another duo, all about Survival Games.

Bloodivores
So, here’s the high concept: it’s a cross between Deadman Wonderland and Blood C, only it’s four vampires (mutated virus vampires, the other kind are so 19th Century), in a prison full of monsters. We’ll hoke up some reason for them to be in there — betrayed by a parent in the government maybe. We won’t need a lot of logic in the first episode. The government can tag everyone with the vampire virus (with flashing dog collars), but they can’t quarantine them, or find a cure, or a way to suppress an attack of vorishness. And when they’re on a bank heist, their masks can be plain sunglasses.

Our stylish Oafly-Stump sunglasses come in transparent, eyeshade, and opaque.

Our stylish Oafly-Stump sunglasses come in transparent, eyeshade, and opaque.

I know it’s stupid, but later on we’ll have lots of big insect monsters (ignore the mass square laws) and vamp on vamp action, so no-one will notice.

Magical Girl Raising Project

OK, I know the How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend project was not well received, even though some people liked it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reuse the name. This will be infinitely better. Squeaky-voiced middle school females (and one secret gender-bender!) get recruited as Magical Girls, and then (due to budget cuts, or something), they get told they have to have a 50% RIF.

Good evening! Which four of you will I have to kill before the season ends?

Good evening! Which four of you will I have to kill before the season ends?

And since Magical Girlhood is an organization you can’t resign from, because they don’t exist, the only way out is feet first. That’s a lot of feet.

The kids will just love this one!

The kids will just love this one!

The wrong way to watch anime

September 28, 2016

Isaac Akers, over on Crunchyroll, has a column on the right way to watch anime, with the conclusion that there isn’t one.  I was intrigued, because there’s an old SDLC saying, that there’s no one right design for a computer system, but there are many designs that are demonstrably wrong. Could we say the same thing about anime?  I was in the midst of constructing a wonderful house of cards around this idea, when an old SF memory brought them all down.

Back in the mid-80’s, there was a spoof in an April edition of, I think, Analog magazine. It was an announcement for a new game, a game called Life (not Conway’s, but real life). They talked about possible adventures on a water-world with multiple continents and thousands of cultures, and an expansion pack to extend the game to the planet’s airless moon “as soon as we straighten out some issues with a subcontractor”.

The takeaway line, which has stuck with me to this day, is this:

In Life, you set your own victory conditions.

You get to set those conditions, and you get to decide if you have won.

What has this to do with watching anime, aside from the fact that for many, watching anime is Life? Just this. Akers categorizes ways of watching from super-casual entertainment to hard-core critical. More detailed categories are possible, mostly as an extension from that line. You could watch it for the artwork, for the fashions, for the furnishings, or for clues on how to act around girls (or boys). You could study Ikki Tousen and InuYasha intently in order to gain a better understanding of the Warring States period, or hang on every word in The Gokusen and Saikano to improve your Japanese pronunciation. In all of these, as in all of Life, you decide on the victory conditions, and you decide if your anime-watching was worthwhile.

There’s no right way to watch anime, and there’s no wrong way, either. The only requirement is that your watching remain true to its purpose.

Anime Worth Watching — Summer 2016

September 24, 2016

Amanchu
Futaba is a shy young girl who comes to a small coastal town from the big city, meets an outgoing classmate and a caring teacher, and learns to come out of her shell by learning to SCUBA dive. A quiet, feel-good, sort of an anime. Like Flying Witch, but with a little more personal drama. If you liked Aria, you will like this one — it has the same director, the cats look the same (i.e. totally un-catlich), and the lead cat is even named Aria.

Futaba and Friend, and cat

Futaba and Friend, and cat

The Ancient Magus’ Bride OVA

First of three 20-minute episodes. Prequel to the manga, which might mean we’re getting a full season anime. Chise is a young girl from an uncaring home who ends up living with a sorcerer, who just happens to have an eland’s skull for a head. Visually very pretty, with interesting magic and magical creatures. Their household is Chise, the Magus, Ruth (a black Flat Coated Retriever who eats at the table, just like humans), and a bonnet-wearing maid who has remarkable skills in tomato stacking.

The girl, Ruth, the maid, the Mage

Chise, Ruth, the Maid, the Mage

Opening scene looks like a foggy Victorian London, but in a later shot you can see The Eye.

ancientmaguslondon02

I liked the manga enough to buy the first volume when it came out. There’s two more 20-minute episodes in the OVA series, and then we’ll see.

So, there were a couple of good anime this summer, but Re:Zero was not one of them (some people liked it). I’ve mentioned it before, and I only mention it now so that I can include a picture of Rem, the Best Girl. Flawed hero learns his way around a new fantasy world by continuously being killed and respawning back at earlier save points. Falls in love with Emelia, main heroine, just because. Rejects Rem who really loves him, because he’s fallen for Emelia, who never contributes much to the story and doesn’t think much of him until the last episode, when his heroism and kindness turns her low level disdain into love, which I’m sure will last.

Rem

Rem

Emelia

Emelia

Which one would you chose?

That’s it for the summer. Pickings were slim enough that I rewatched GaruPan, Shirobako, Flying Witch, and Taisho Baseball Girls.

Flying Witch Soundtrack

September 21, 2016
They did the best they could with what they had

They did the best they could with what they had

Are you a fan of the anime Flying Witch? Then you’ll probably like this CD, available from Amazon, but be aware that half the tracks here cannot be found in the anime. On the other hand, if you are unfamiliar with the anime and are just looking for some interesting Japanese music you will find that most of the tracks are too simplistic, too Western, and there’s only one J-pop style vocal.

The problem is, there’s only three or four points in the whole series with anything like an extended musical sequence. The OP and ED, of course. The ED is on this CD (track 44), the OP is not, probably due to licensing issues (the series composer wrote the ED but not the OP). Then there’s the music backgrounding the opening train and bus ride that bring Makoto into Aomori (track 2), and the minute-long sequence in Episode 2 accompanying the arrival of the Harbinger of Spring (track 28).

Arrival

Arrival


Variations and extracts of these composition appear in a number of other scenes. Other than that, the music in the anime tends to come in short sequences of from 30 seconds or so, to as few as eight notes each. The CD extends most of these to a minute or a minute and a half. The way this is done is to start each track off with a teaser, mentioning the anime tune, then transition to an extended introduction (in a vamp-’till-ready style), and finish with the music from the anime (track 17). Sometimes the lead-in contains all the anime bars.

Harbinger

Harbinger

Some of the tracks are variations on the original themes. Others are totally new compositions. While the anime music tends to have a country/folk feel to it, with acoustic guitar, flute and recorder, the variations, well, vary. Harp, honky-tonk, light jazz, all put in brief appearances,  in many cases sounding somewhat new age, when it’s not sounding turn of the century before last.

Other than the OP, all of the music is by Dewa Yoshiaki (出羽良彰). There’s a total of 41 tracks and 72 minutes of music, plus three tracks of voice acting “mini-drama”, with Makoto talking to her cat familiar Chitose. All told, you are probably paying $2/minute for music you can identify in the anime. I thought it was worth it. If you want to listen to excerpts from the various tracks, you can find them towards the bottom of this page on the amazon.co.jp site. Or search for “ふらいんぐうぃっち CD”

1. Mini-drama 1
2. Makoto Kobata
3. Dangerous person
4. Kikikaikai
5. Sense of direction
6. Nano-san!
7. Loitering, and enjoy
8. Loitering is a panacea
9. Magic classroom
10. Soothsayer
11. Mai national bird
12. Leisurely sponger
13. Blue forest
14. Haruno Mountain
15. Clear, sunny
16. Training
17. Flying Witch
18. Dream and roadside of happiness
19. Eye-catching 1
20. Mini-drama 2
21. Dream of the witch
22. Witch
23. Tail Keru
24. Found
25. Run away
26. Tito’s
27. Strange creatures
28. Spring
29. Become a witch!
30. Stupid
31. Tohoho
32. Wandering witch
33. Sister witch
34. Dog witch
35. Inukai’s
36. Queen of the Night
37. Apricot
38. Magic of nightfall
39. Cherry colored landscape
40. Konkurushio
41. Flying whale
42. Eye-catching 2
43. Mini-drama 3
44. Everyday magic
Flying Witch ending theme

I placed my order on the 16th, and Amazon Prime delivered it from Japan on the 20th. It was bubble-wrapped inside a bubble-wrap envelope, but the shippers still managed to break the hinge on the CD box.

GaruPan and Shirobako, Part 2

September 18, 2016

Four years later, I’m still finding out interesting things about both of these anime.

In the first season of Shirobako, the director almost craters the project because he keeps changing the scenario and pushing the envelope on how they portray the characters.

Now, I find that Mizushima Tsutomu, the director for both Shirobako and Girls und Panzer, was the cause of the delay that pushed the ending of GaruPan from December, 2012 to March, 2013, and for the same reason. Here is a translation of his blog entry on the topic.

Anime Preview: Fall 2016

September 3, 2016

Unlike some others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art, and maybe a bit of the blurb. Consider yourself warned. If you want a real preview, pop on over to AniChart.

First, let’s say what’s normally not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (Bubuki Buranki), most kids stuff (Nyanbo), anything with idol in the description, movies and OVA’s.

 

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

Occultic;Nine

Cast of Lost Village ends up in a library. Adds semicolons to their list of personal phobias

Cast of Lost Village ends up in a library. Adds semicolons to their list of personal phobias

Touken Ranbu

Extended family moves down from the trees, takes up living on rooftops. Plans to evolve into garden-shed-dwellers next.

Extended family moves down from the trees, takes up living on rooftops. Plans to evolve into garden-shed-dwellers next.

Shuumatsu no Izetta

Don't worry. Love will break our fall.

Witches und Panzers. Don’t worry. Love will break our fall.

 

 

 

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

Flip Flappers

Girls who are too poor to own stockings, and have to dress in tea towels find happiness in floral displays

Girls who are too poor to own stockings, and have to dress in tea towels find happiness in floral displays

Brave Witches

Girls who are too poor to own underwear bravely fly combat missions at 25,000ft. Huddle together to keep warm

Girls who are too poor to own underwear bravely fly combat missions at 25,000ft. Huddle together to keep warm

Keijo

World-class gymnast who is too poor to go to college enters swim suit competitions

World-class gymnasts who are too poor to go to college enter swim suit competitions

 

 

WON’T WATCH. The cover art / title / blurb tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

Long Riders

Girls und Bicycles. Not the David Carradine version.

Girls und Bicycles. Not the David Carradine version.

 

 

Tiger Mask W

Fursuit guy gets a job at The Tiger's Hole, has problems with his love life

Fursuit guy gets a job at The Tiger’s Hole, has problems with his love life

Yuri on Ice

Lesbians trapped in male bodies enter skating contests

Lesbians trapped in male bodies enter skating contests

…and 59 more that didn’t even make the “I won’t watch” cut.

What anime am I watching, Summer 2016?

July 22, 2016

Having been down on a bunch of shows, let me tell you about what’s good what has kept my interest. There’s a number of highly thought of shows this season, but for some reason, none of them resonate with me. Right now there’s only four that I’m watching.

Amanchu! In the quiet, ‘healing’ tradition comes a story about how a shy transfer student to a high school by the sea learns to fit in by way of scuba diving and a whacky friend. So far, it’s more Aria than Girls und SCUBA. The girl is well presented and believable. The friend is over-the-top. Her most common face makes her look like one of the elves in Humanity Has Declined.

One of these girls is having way too much fun

One of these girls is having way too much fun

ReWrite  Typical VN-based high school harem hi jinks. Our Hero joins the Occult Study Club because, well, that’s where the oppai are. Gets involved in various occult happenings. What I like about it is that it keeps throwing in twists. Like when they catch the tsuchinoko monster that’s been seen around campus, and it turns out to be a rubber dummy being used as a tsuchinoko lure by another occult seeker.

I suppose you ladies are wondering how you all came to be in the club

I suppose you ladies are wondering how you all came to be in the club

ReZero HikikoNEET gets transported to a fantasy world. This is a two cour series that started last Spring, so we’re on episode 16. Proto-agonist Subaru (yes, it’s , the same as the car, and the same as the Pleiades/Seven Sisters constellation) keeps getting horribly deaded, respawning at an earlier place and time. In the first season he came over as well-meaning, if a little dense and hot-headed. In the second season the heat and density reach stellar-core proportions. So far, he still has the two maid-demons (demon-maids?) on his side, but in the latest episode the Main Heroine has dumped him for being as crazy as a bag of cats. Oh, and everybody has died. Horribly.

Post-respawn awakenings can scare the maids

Post-respawn awakening screams can scare even demon maids

Planetarian Lonely robot keeps watch over a dying planetarium in a dead, post-apocalyptic city. Is befriended by a junk dealer. It’s sweet and sad and reminds me of There Will Come Soft Rains.

Even though we only have electricity for one week, every five years

Even though we only have electricity for one week, every five years

Flying Witch Yes, I know that’s last season. I watched then, also. Very much slice of life. Country-style OP and ED and BGM. Good characters, good art. I’ve marathoned it twice, so far, and plan a much longer essay, later.

It looks like fun, but it can be painful, until you learn the trick

Well, where did you think they came from?
Besides, they’re on sale

But since I’m watching it this season, it counts.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 14, 2016

Tales of Zestiria the X: Is that X the unknown, or X, the queen after Zestiria the IX? Or maybe it’s a date on their calendar?

Court astronomer has been using his telescope to observe local weather, and in no way is he peering into bedroom windows. Maybe he should be the court meteorologist. Anyway, he sees an unmoving dark cloud (does that make it climate?) over in the next county. Princess sends court climatologist and her trusted companion to find out what it is, and then leads out a patrol of her own to find the trusted companion when they don’t come back two minutes later, because rulers of countries always have time to act like platoon leaders. Encounters ninja-shaped aliens. Finds out that the cloud is of geological origin, not climatological. But before she can find the court climatologist to tell him of his new title, the geology becomes a little unsettled and everybody but her dies. Then it gets weird. Later on, there may be sheep.

Normally, you build a dome that will protect all of your 100cm refractor

Normally, you build a dome that will protect all of your 100cm refractor

The acting is over-wrought, the art is crude, and the animation is clunky. And they don’t know how to build observatories.

Qualidea Code: Highly accomplished team member refuses to cooperate with his team-mates when defeating the pink, boob-shaped alien invaders because they’re almost as dumb as the aliens. Team-mates refuse to cooperate with other teams because they have other highly accomplished members who aren’t him. Competition among the teams for accomplishment points (always a bad thing) leads to the destruction of both the aliens and a vital causeway.

Because crenellated walls are the best way to defeat airborne enemies

Because crenellated walls are the best way to defeat airborne enemies

The art is OK, the characters are the usual range of emotional types (defined by hair color), and the plot is clunky.

Ange Vierge: Highly accomplished team members clash with less highly accomplished team members when defeating the black, dildo-shaped alien invaders. Spend the rest of the episode naked in the bath, naked in their quarters and naked in the office, bepestered by lens flare. Decide that the best way to improve their accomplishment levels is to break into naked competitive teams (always a good thing).

If you think the lens flare is bad, just wait for the steam

She must have very sexy elbows

The plot is minimal, the interpersonal interactions are contrived, and the camera work is clunky. The characters are well rounded.

This is the last TL:DR of the season, I swear. Next week, I answer the question every one of my reader is asking — So, what is he watching, anyway?

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 7, 2016

Sweetness and Lightning: Hey, have you noticed how well food-porn shows are doing right now? And how much people like smart, energetic little pre-school girls?  We could so clean up with a show that combined the two!

His idea of a child's balanced meal

His idea of a child’s balanced meal

Yeah, but there’s got to be more. If we don’t want to look like Barakamon with food, or Wakakozake with kids, or Gourmet Girl Graffitti with parents, we need something with an edge.

What about making it a single parent, a widower? One who can’t cook?

I don’t know, Japanese are reluctant enough to get married already. We don’t want to give the impression that marriage involves a 50/50 chance of death. I mean, think of all the other single parent or missing parent shows out there. In how many anime do you even see a parent, anyway? Whatever happens to them?

Yeah, but that gives us an opportunity to add a romance angle. You know, like, he’s a school teacher and there’s this girl who’s in one of his classes that keeps coming over to cook. Not just romance, but underage, inappropriate romance!

And she can’t cook either! And they learn together! Sweet lightning, that would work! But what should we call it?

Taboo Tattoo: Guys, what is Miyata thinking? We’ve already got Amanchu, Saiki Kusuo and Food Wars on our plate, and now he wants us to do this Tattoo thing? Even Miyamori Aoi couldn’t find enough animators to save us!

だいじょうぶ, だいじょうぶ. It will be OK. We’ll just use a generic highschool boy develops superpowers plot. Throw in a blonde foreigner and a boobified childhood friend who can cook (maybe we can recycle some outtakes from Food Wars) and the thing writes itself. No need to spend time on the animation, just use dark blobs and speed lines. This will be bigger than Dai-Shogun!!

Take that! You secret tattoo-wielder!!

Take that! You secret tattoo-wielder!!

Momokuri: OK, we’ve got one more 24 minute hole to fill in the schedule, and nobody willing to do it. TMS is busy playing mortician for D.Grey Man while murdering ReLife, and KyoAni is prepping for a second season of Euphonium. Even J.C. Staff is wrapped up in their Tattoo blockbuster thing.

What about recycling something from last years Internet-only ONA programs? Like Momokure. Yandere girl stalks younger boy. I mean, all the episodes are done, it’s cheap, it has low bandwidth, and it already has a 7.2 rating from people who watch anime on their smartphones. What more could you ask for?

Such a cute boy!

Such a cute boy!

 

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2016

July 6, 2016

The first two programs I dropped were not even on my season preview list.

D.Gray-man: Boy who hunts soul-sucking demons teams up with sister of soul sucked brother. This is a 2016 continuation of a 2006 anime. The current release starts at Episode 104, but Funimation has posted everything, starting from Episode 1, which is what I watched. Too dark (as in, no light in any of the scenes). Too cartoony (as in, everybody is overacting, even by anime standards). Too much 2006 style art (as in, c’mon, it was made in 2006!). Bottom line: I don’t plan on watching a 103-episode prequel.

Would I lie to a policeman?

Would I lie to a policeman?

Berserk: Another resurrection of an earlier era (2008), only this one doesn’t have any prequels available. Demon-haunted man with a big sword and a tiny tattoo fights skeletal demons in a dark forest. Too dark (as in, no light in any of the scenes). Too cartoony (as in, it looks like it was drawn by US comic book artists). Too much CGI (as in, c’mon, it was made in CGI!). OK, too much bad CGI.

And the skeletons move like stop action from a '60's Voyage of Sinbad

And the skeletons move like stop action from a ’60’s Voyage of Sinbad

Re:Re:Re: Only one of the next three was on the list, but that’s OK, ’cause I only dropped two.

ReWrite: Double length into to a VN adaptation because they had to introduce all the girls who are going to fall in love with Our Hero. As usual in these things, the girls are more interesting than Our Hero, but the art style is from the early naughties VN genre and the magical hijinks that are meant to be ominous are silly instead. As in, magical witch girl secretly enters Our Hero’s room at night, slides up under the covers with him, and bites him … on the arm. She also stabs him with her ribbons.

I will so report you to the teacher!

I will drop you from the Konohana Lucia path and force you into the Bad Ending

ReLife: NEET takes a pill that makes him look young again. Re-enrolls in high school, and immediately forgets how to behave. The only saving feature is that the representative from the company that talked him into taking the pill (as an experiment), looks like Koizumi Itsuki from Haruhi Suzumiya, so it’s nice to see that he got an interesting job after college (probably still working for the Organization). I tried reading the manga, and dropped that too.

My Organization wants you to take this pill

My Organization wants you to take this pill

ReZero: This started in the Spring season, but it’s a two-cour, so it still counts. NEET gets transported to a fantasy world in the first of a double episode (1A, 1B) opener. Keeps getting killed and respawning back where he first appeared, but it takes him a while to figure it out. In fact, at the end of 1B he still hasn’t. Since the respawn point is at the same time as well as the same place, it’s like a time loop anime as well. So everything he does based on prior knowledge means the future is different from that point on. Impresses the girl, gets killed; misses meeting the girl, gets killed; catches up to the girl, she doesn’t know who he is.

Three minutes in and already he's adapted

Three minutes in and already he’s adapted

 

This is the only one I’m continuing to watch.

 

Anime Postview: Spring 2016

July 3, 2016

This is not a real review of the Spring anime season. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Anime Preview.

Of the ones that I said WILL WATCH, I’m two for four.

Screenwriter Okada Mari said that “It’s a show that should give rise to the reaction What the hell is this!?”, and it does. Lots of folks didn’t like it (and some do), but lots of folks don’t have the patience for a show where half the fun is in the way this totally incompatible group starts off discussing a plan, and then spin off half a dozen conversations with no relevance to the plan, or anything else. If you’ve ever been in a business meeting, you know what I mean. BTW, mayoi is the same word that Monogatari uses for Hachkuji Mayoi — the lost snail.

2. Mayoiga The Boys on the Bus, headed for the Hotel California Directed by Mizushima

2. Mayoiga
The Boys on the Bus
 Headed for the Hotel California
Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima

My candidate for best show of the season, and possibly the year, is a feel-good, slice of life anime. No conflict. No drama. No plot. You just find yourself smiling at the end of each episode. It’s based on a slow-output manga, and they used up perhaps two-thirds of the existing source, so it will be a couple of years before a sequel. That’s OK. I’ll wait.  

4. Flying Witch But it’s so much more comfortable to take the bus (Have you ever tried sitting on a broomstick for four hours?)

4. Flying Witch
Have you ever tried sitting on a broomstick for four hours? I’ll take the bus

The other two in this category were on feeds that I don’t get, so they don’t really count, right?

In the MIGHT WATCH category, I’m one for four.

Bakuon was not strong enough to maintain my interest, Kumo Miko died even earlier, and Kiznaiver was just bad. The only one I finished was the non-harem (he’s already got the girl) gamers in highschool. He should have known they were females from the beginning, when they all stood around gossiping while he was being pounded into thin paste by a monster.

4. Negote no Yome... Magical girl goes to high school, decides to start her own SOS club

4. Negote no Yome…
Highschool boy finds that all the guys in his MMORPG are girls, and they go to his school!

Of the shows that I said that I WON’T WATCH, I didn’t, and I’m glad. So I’m four for four there.

Meanwhile, there was one show that that I didn’t list that I DID WATCH and I’m happy I did.

Steampunk. Zombies. On a train. With old fashioned samurai. What’s not to like? This one turned up on my Amazon Prime list. Good thing it was subtitled, or I wouldn’t have watched it.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

So, I guess you could be conservative and say I’m three for seven. Interestingly, all of them except Kabaneri are on Crunchyroll.

Anime Preview Summer 2016

June 15, 2016

The Summer of 2016 looks to be a dull one, anime-wise. Fortunately, I’ll be travelling a lot and won’t get to see much of it.

Unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the AniChart cover art and maybe a bit of the description.

CUTE GIRLS: Most of the shows fall into the cute girls category, and the only thing that differentiates them is how many girls there are.

Magus One girl meets horny skeleton

Magus
One girl meets a skeleton

Mari Waka Two girls do time travel

Mari Waka
Two girls steal a star-gate

Amanchu Three girls do flamenco

Amanchu
Three girls learn flamenco

Kono Bijutsu-bu Four girls do art

Kono Bijutsu-bu
Four girls do art

Ange Vierge Five girls play cards

Ange Vierge
Five girls play cards

Rewrite Six girls live in a tree

Rewrite
Six girls live in a tree

Love Live Sunshine Nine girls do music

Love Live Sunshine
Nine girls chase pigeons

Tsuki-uta Twelve guys present all those girls

Tsuki-uta
Twelve guys present all those girls

BUT THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN GIRLS: Four non-cute anime that I probably won’t watch, either

91 Days A whole academic quarter under the Classics mafia

91 Days
A whole academic quarter with the Classics Mafia

Fukigen na Mononokean The road to Fuji-San is beset with demons

Fukigen na Mononokean
The road to Fuji-San is beset with demons

Cheer Danshi Anime's first big Hollywood musical

Cheer Danshi
Anime’s first big Bollywood musical

Handa Kun God has an ahoge

Handa Kun
God has an ahoge

So that’s it. 91 days of nothing to see here, move along.

The trains of Shirobako

June 12, 2016

So, what’s with it with Shirobako and trains, anyhow? Train references keep cropping up at the most unusual times. If they had brand names, I’d say it was product placement, but these don’t. It’s as if director Mizushima wants to create a drinking game or something, or maybe because he thought it up while riding on a train.

It starts in Episode 1, where the first shot you get after the beginning of Exodus, the anime-within-the-anime, is of a train, possibly a track maintenance train, pulling into a station. It’s not mentioned in any way, and the next shots are of the various Musashino Animation people with Exodus playing in the background.

Just doing a little maintenance. Nothing to see here.

Just doing a little track maintenance.
Nothing to see here.

Jumping ahead to Episode 10, we have college student Imai Midori, soon to be known as Diesel San, researching a question about trains for Miyamori Aoi

Jane's Book of Trains

Jane’s Book of Trains

She tells her that the only diesel train running on the line is a track maintenance train. If it was a reference to the train in Episode 1, then that was the only shot of what was going on in Exodus.

ShirobakoEp10TrackMaintenance

Next, Miyamori Aoi heads to Sawara Studio to deliver a musical instrument, and gets roped into providing all sorts of sound effects.

Give me a monster roar that's just a little sexy

Give me a monster roar that’s just a little sexy

The sound editor mixes in a train sound to Miyamori’s gaaow give it a little ballast, or something.

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Finally, in the last episode delivery montage in Episode 24, we have Okitsu Yuka driving past a train on her way to her destination

Welcome to Japan Rail

You may be fast, but we are cute

Whether it’s a product placement, or a JR homage,

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

…or maybe somebody’s daughter, it’s a fun and unexpected aspect of my favorite anime.

UPDATE: Nope, it’s a real train mascot

Kotoba Nagisa, of the Kamikochi Line

Comments on Comments on Shirobako

June 5, 2016

Author has an interesting pair of comments on Japanese cultural aspects of Shirobako over on ani-nouto. He appears surprised that anyone would want him to blog about them, and seems to think they are obvious, but I can assure him, and you, that they are anything but.

The first is the phrase “make a living at X”, which in Japanese comes out as “eat by doing X”. Crunchyroll has the direct translation, but the US release blu-ray uses the English term.

Or even make a living at...

Or even make a living at…

The comment-worthy aspect of this is the dropping-the-donut scene where the rookie loses it, and old-hand Yasuhara-san catches and eats it.

The other point was a deconstruction of the 3rd Flying Girls Squadron author comments about the manga representing his inner turmoil. The discussion is more complex and nuanced than the “making a living” comment, so I’ll just point you at the original page.

The point of all this is that to understand socially-based content from a society as different as that of Japan requires multiple translations, and expert commentary. I noticed the frequent references to eating, but didn’t really map them to making a living, and even when I did, I didn’t pick up on the other aspects. That’s what makes watching anime so much fun, and so confusing.

 

 

 

 

Anime worth watching, Winter, 2016

May 14, 2016

Running a little late on this one. What shows did I think were the best of the season just ended, half a season ago? In my postview I listed, briefly, how my predictions went. But which of those were really worthwhile?

First of all, a disclaimer. Erased and GenRaku (on Crunchyroll) and Grimgar (on Funimation) were all critically acclaimed. I liked the first episodes. I just was never in the mood to follow-up, so I can’t include them here. Maybe this summer. Herewith, the four:

Gate, Season 2: Fun premise, mediocre ending.
I called Season 1 An Akihabara Otaku in Emperor Augustus’ Court, after the Mark Twain novel. Season 1 was last Summer, so it’s a split-cour program.

Magical gate opens up in downtown Tokyo, leading to a land of dragons and elves and a Roman-style (down to the armor) empire. JSDF establishes bridgehead there, and proceeds to wipe the floor with the natives, while an otaku recon force leader establishes good relations with the elves and wizards and loli-goddesses. Season 2 focuses on internal politics of the empire — peace factions, war factions, scheming crown princes, upright crown princesses, Rasputainical rabbit-girls, and so forth. Some continuing coverage of otaku-san and his harem, but those episodes feel a lot like filler.

JSDF drops in

Next out, the headmaster’s Ferrari!

The original web-pub and manga were panned as overly militaristic and nationalistic. I don’t think the anime was, because it was in a long tradition of what if modern x went back to the past stories. Not just Twain, but de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall, The H. Beam Piper / John Carr Kalvan series, Eric Flint’s 1632 series, Frankowski’s Cross-Time Engineer, and the film Final Countdown, to name a few.

Fighting withdrawal

Fighting withdrawal

Only at the end, with bombastic music and heroic vignettes does it live up to its jingoistic billing. Combined with the rushed, Shakespearian (well, Elizabethan)-style tying up of all the plot threads, where everybody gets married to everybody else and our otaku returns to Akihabara, the ending is where the anime falls severely down.

A lot of that going around this season

A lot of that going around this season

There’s more to the source manga, and the ending leaves room for a third season, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
The ‘trapped in a fantasy world’ trope is now mature enough that programs can enjoy playing off established plotlines, knowing that viewers will get the joke. in KonoSuba, the hero dies in this world and is offered the opportunity to be born in a fantasy world, with one artifact from this one. The artifact he chooses is the very goddess who is offering him the choice.

The goddess can't hold her liquor

The goddess can’t hold her liquor

The world has the typical RPG accoutrements — guild hall, quests, adventurers, and so forth. Our Hero assembles a team of incompetents and mental cases to fight their battles with hordes of flying cabbages and herds of giant frogs.

And the rest of the team is incompetant

And the rest of the team is incompetent

Fortunately, the minions of the Demon King are just as incompetent as Our Gang. It’s only a ten-episode cour, and the ending is a set-up for a possible second season, so that could happen.

But so is the opposition.

But so is the opposition.

Myriad Colors Phantom World
This is Kyoto Animation having fun. No great depth. Monster of the week. Bit of drama at the end. Gorgeous artwork.

Reality is what you make of it

Reality is what you make of it

Unreality starts to bleed over into the real world. Specially talented highschool students are recruited to fight the phantoms. First episode sets the scene by requiring the busty lead girl to out-limbo a bunch of dancing telephone poles. Male lead can summon up demonic monsters for assistance, and we find that Cthulu looks like a cute beach toy, and Marchosias, the hell-hound, is a puppy with angel wings.

The Elder Gods Awake!

The Elder Gods Awake!

Each of the haremettes gets an episode of her own, including the Tinkerbell-sized Ruru. Or maybe it’s Lulu.

Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue: No, I don’t know what the name means, either.
A typical “going to Koshien” highschool sports story, only in this case, the ‘sport’ is two-person flying competitions, using special antigrav shoes. There’s the usual sub-plots of the former champion who can’t bring himself to fly again, and the team that has a new, but unsportsmanlike, tactic. The first sub-plot never gets resolved (leaving space for a second season) while the resolution of the second, and the winning of the regional championship, form the exciting finale.

Mano a Mano

Mano a Mano

First of all, I really like flying anime — Porco Rosso, Strike Witches, Last Exile, Princess and the Pilot … OK, not Pilot’s Love Song. AoKana is a well done flying anime, that doesn’t use aircraft. Instead, they wear flying shoes, like the god Mercury, only without the snakes. Game tactics are some combo of block your opponent, tap the turn pylon, or slap your opponent’s back. The sport is a series of 1v1 encounters, so flying skill is more important than teamwork (although there is a ground controller, who says useful things like go faster!).

Dogfight!

Dogfight!

And Second, they really make you feel like you understand what’s going on. You can’t, because the action is twisted to fit the plot, but you think you know.

What other anime would define the technical aspects of the Low Yo-Yo maneuver?

What other anime would talk about the technical aspects of the Low Yo-Yo maneuver?