Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category

Anime I’m Watching, Summer 2019

July 16, 2019

So, you’ve seen what I’ve dropped. What’s holding my attention? Here’s the current list, by the numbers:

The Demon Girl Next Door
One inept high school girl finds out she’s the new incarnation of evil, only to be totally outclassed by the magical girl she’s supposed to defeat. Magical girl takes pity on her and works to help her level up.

Pokes fun at both the magical girl and the demon heiress genres. I particularly like how everybody just goes along with the new situation (“You’re a demon? Cool horns“), and how her mother tries to cope (“You’ll be arrested if you carry a weapon, so here’s a dinner fork“). Bonus points for the background classroom games.

Dr. Stone
Two high school boys survive petrification of the entire human race, plus all the birds, or maybe only swallows, without food, water, oxygen, or sensory stimulation, for three thousand years. Decide to reconstruct civilization, starting with a bunch of grapes and some bat guano.

Interesting, but still excessively shonen. Starting to address the question of who to awaken (and the associated, who to awaken next). Still hasn’t thought about how all their inventions will scale, how many to awaken, and on what sort of schedule.

Wasteful Days of High School Girls
Three high school girls continue their friendship from middle school [see Yuyushiki], maintain their standard-character interactions [see Aiura].

So far, the banter is cute and the jokes are funny. We’ll see if they can keep it up.

Are you lost?
Four high school girls survive an airplane ditching, without life preservers, burns, broken bones, or jet fuel contamination. Everybody else perished without a trace. Said girls wash up on a deserted island (presumably deserted, they haven’t looked on the other side yet, there could be a Royal Caribbean Line party beach) and try out their survival skills.

Short, but interesting. Much of what people are calling gross-out material is actual survival lore. OK, maybe not the moose balls.

Caution: I don’t care what they said in Episode 1, don’t drink urine. Your kidneys did a lot of work to get rid of toxins in your body and concentrate them in your urine for disposal. Don’t add them back. US Army includes it with seawater and blood as fluids that are harmful to drink in a survival situation.

O Maidens in your Savage Season
Five high school girls from the literature club discover sex. Poke at it with a stick. Find out why it’s vitally important to lock your doors.

I am so not the target demographic for this. In addition, I’m having trouble remembering what my male equivalent travails were like, particularly because they took place during the Eisenhower administration. Despite that, I found it interesting and well done. An example of why anime isn’t just, or not even, kiddie material.

Fire Force
Seven firemen extinguish men of fire, while seeing to their spiritual needs. None of them are in high school.

A shonen anime, but without spiky hair or shouting, unlike Dr. Stone. So far, the action is good and the characters interesting. Interesting side note: the fire fighting suits are realistically bulky.

So that’s it for now. Six shows, out of the 45 or so on offer on Crunchyroll/HiDive. I’m seriously considering adding Funimation as a source, which will give me another three or four.

TLDR: Anime I never finished, Summer 2019

July 9, 2019

Maybe it’s just me. Advancing age, combined with more time to watch anime, has made me more critical. Or maybe it’s just that the crop of anime this summer is weaker than one would expect, even for summer. The full summer schedule hasn’t been announced yet, and already I’m dropping shows.

Dropping:

To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts: Frankenstein monsters join the army. Things don’t end well. Interesting concept marred by low grade animation, names that are almost as bad as those in Gate, and a low grade villain — nobody laughs like that.

It’s the writers. They made me do this!

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon, Side Quest: My season preview said I wasn’t going to watch this, but I felt I should just check in to see how it was going. Well, I didn’t like the original, and this one isn’t any better. Cardboard characters. Cardboard monsters. Cardboard scenery. And those characters that go beyond cardboard, do it by being irritating.

We hauled all those boxes all this way so you could have a throne. Don’t let it go to your head.

Magical Sempai: I think it’s supposed to be せんぱい. See that second character that looks like an ‘n’? It’s an ‘n’, not an ‘m’. Senpai. Whatever it’s called, this 12 minute short depends too much on embarrassment humor for me.

Girl of my dreams

On the cusp:

Dr Stone: Yes, I know it’s a fantastically popular manga. Yes, I know it’s the most hyped anime of the season. Yes, I also know it’s a classic shonen, with lots of spiky hair and guys shouting, an anime of the type that that one of my Japanese students called “too loudy”. Will that overwhelm the joys of learning how to make nitric acid out of bat guano? I’ll give it one more episode.

Don’t chew with your mouth open. There might be kids watching.

Granbelm: Cleverly disguised magical girl show. On the one hand, I am definitely the wrong demographic for that. On the other hand, the mechas are chibi, the interactions are cute, and the action in general is good. Is that enough to make up for the squeaky-voiced teenlet mahou shoujo aspect? We’ll have to wait for the next episode.

I don’t think I could stand a Magical Girl/Mecha/Isekai mashup

Finally, it looks like it’s not just a thin season this summer, but a poorly distributed one as well, with four out of the five Summer Season shows that I am watching being released on Friday. This leaves a big hole after the weekend. Right now I’m desperate enough that I’m marathoning Daphne in the Brilliant Blue. It was that or Hanaukyo Maid Team.

Anime Postview: Spring 2019

July 2, 2019

This is not a real review of the anime season just ending. Instead, it’s a look at how well I did in my Spring 2019 Preview, which you might want to look at first.

Ones I said I WILL WATCH:

Time travel not done well. Wants to be Stein’s Gate, but doesn’t quite make it

 

  • Konoyo no Hate: Watched five eps. Interesting take on time loops and the difficulty of changing the past, but just couldn’t hold my interest.
  • Shoumetsu Toshi: Not Available
  • Carole & Tuesday: Not Available

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ones I said I MIGHT WATCH:

It’s not Big Windup. It’s not even Moshidora.

 

  • Cinderella Nine: Watched two eps. Too much cute girls doing and not enough baseball
  • Mix: Didn’t watch. Previews were too much team building and not enough baseball. Doesn’t anyone watch Big Windup any more? That’s how you do it.
  • Kono Oto Tomare: Didn’t watch. Amazon pay to play.

 

 

 

 

 

Ones I said I WON’T WATCH:

I don’t understand. I liked YuriKuma.

 

  • Jimoto na Japan: Didn’t watch
  • Aikatsu Friends: Didn’t watch
  • Sarazanmai:  Watched two eps.  Everybody who isn’t me liked it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there we are. Started watching four of the nine, but none of them stayed the course. Checked out three others that others said were good, but they didn’t make it, either: Bakumatsu, Demon Slayer, Fruits Basket (wasn’t impressed with the original, for that matter). Fortunately, there were a few that kept me from complete boredom: Ao-Chan Can’t Study, FLCL (work in progress), Isekai Quartet, We never learn. Now, why did I like Ao-Chan and We never learn and get bored by Demon Slayer and Fruits Basket? For that matter, why did I like YuriKuma enough to buy the DVD but Sarazanmai just didn’t really click with me? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. I should note that I didn’t watch more than two episodes of any show on Conflagrate’s top ten list. Yeah, it’s me.

In a nutshell: Even the good ones weren’t great. I ended up rewatching Kotobuki, and towards the end, I found myself marathoning High School DxD.

Magnificent

 

Anime trails manga

June 25, 2019

My Japanese students always said that manga was more important than anime in Japan. On my first visit to Japan, seven years ago, I found that was true. Now, I have some data to back that up. In 2017, home video and streaming anime sales totaled about $1.2 Billion. That same year, manga sales totaled just under $3.9 Billion. Given that a manga costs $5 or $6, while anime prices seem to average about $40 or $50 per title (with a very wide variance), that means a lot more manga items are being sold.

In both cases, sales of physical media dropped from the previous year. Call me old fashioned, but I’d rather have something that can’t be take away from me at a publisher’s whim.

Anime Preview: Summer 2019

June 19, 2019

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 pretty much just the title and the cover art.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels and continuations of stuff I didn’t like before (Is it wrong to pull on a blue ribbon in a dungeon?, Bothering Takagi-san), shorts and kids stuff (Sounan desu ka, Pirikarako-chan ), movies and OVA’s, and anything with a Certain or a Melloi in the title. Second, I should say that this was a hard season to capture. Not only are the offerings thin, with some exceptions, the art work is uninspired. Third, I’m trying something new: inserting the pictures using the WordPress Gallery feature, rather than spending an hour or so fighting the interface while trying to format a table. I’d be interested to hear any comments my reader might have.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps (you can click on the pix to embiggen).

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

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

Aniblog Churn

June 12, 2019

I have been watching anime for almost 15 years, according to this analysis. Since I’m an on-line-reading kind of guy, I suspect I’ve been following various anime blogs for almost as long. In general, I follow blogs by putting them in my RSS feed, and what started this article was the fact that at the beginning of the week, the Anime folder in my RSS feed had exactly 100 sites listed. That’s enough to convince me that it needed some pruning.

What I found was, a surprising number of blogs had stopped publishing, or at least hadn’t published anything in a year. Some were still there (Altair & Vega, last active in Jan 2016; Deneb, last active in Oct 2015). Some had just disappeared — the Internet couldn’t find Denpa Waves or Oishii Anime. One, Anime Fascination, had gone private at some unknown date since I’d added it to my list. The earliest dropout was Anime Backgrounds, in July, 2014. The most active year for site inactivations, was 2017, with four sites.

I can’t be sure how far back the earliest listing in my current RSS feed goes. Presumably at least to July, 2014, so call it five years. I have been collecting feeds for far longer, but multiple computer/browser/reader changes have lost many of the links.

Bottom line: Over roughly five years, 17 out of 100 RSS feeds have gone inactive or disappeared. Some easy math says that’s 17%. Some slightly less easy math says that at that rate, in about 25 years my anime feed will be empty. That, of course won’t happen, because I regularly add interesting feeds. On the other hand, in 25 years I’ll be 100, so my aniblog tracking might have dropped off a little.

Ship Girls

June 4, 2019

Since 2013 there have been three anime that featured cute girls doing cute things, with ships: Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Kantai Collection, and High School Fleet. Well, cute things is probably a misnomer. They are all more concerned with drama than with moe.

What’s interesting about them is the differences in the way they portray the girls, and the ships. To start with, Arpeggio and KanColle are both concerned with girls who are part of their ships, while HSF is a more conventional girls on ships anime.

High School Fleet is just what the name says. High school girls from the Yokosuka Girls’ Marine High School go to sea on the destroyer Harekaze (Clear Wind) as part of their education. BTW, there’s an alternate reading of hare as meaning cleared of suspicion. This is symbolically important since the ship and crew are almost immediately charged with mutiny, and every ship they see attacks them. After many trials and tribulations, they demonstrate that the erratic actions of many of the ships is due to a virus, rescue their friends on the battleship Musashi, and win the day.

Harekaze sorties!

The training ships are based on WWII designs (although there are more modern designs in the real fleet), and the girls serve as normal watch-standers and ship-handlers.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel Earth is invaded by the Fleet of Fog, alien naval forces with extremely advanced weapons mounted on ships with the outward forms of WWII combatants. A rogue FoF submarine, the I-401, captained by a rogue human, is charged with sneaking a new superweapon across the Pacific to the US. It succeeds, with the help of other FoF defectors, including (finally) the battleship Yamato. Crow’s World has a good series on it.

Fleet destroyer takes a hit

In Arpeggio, the FoF ships are embodiments of the concept of each class of ship. They are controlled either by low level AI’s (minor combatants) or by high-level mental models — AI’s that have taken human form, the better to understand human reasoning. This leaves them open to over-empathizing with humans.

Kantai Collection In an alternate timeline, girls (who are embodiments of WWII ships) fight a grotesque enemy in the form of the ships of the Abyssal Fleet. The battles parallel those of WWII (W island, MI base) and the girls are vaguely aware of the outcomes on our timeline — will the battle of MI be a disaster?. In the end they avoid the Abyssal’s attempt at an ambush, and everyone returns safely, with the help of the battleship Yamato.

Combat-ready Hagikaze

The ships in KanColle are not really ships. They are girls who embody the soul of the WWII ship. The girls carry strap-on versions of the weapons suites their spirit ships mounted.

One way to understand the different approaches is to create a table. I like tables.

Real Girls Imaginary Girls
Real Ships HS Fleet Arpeggio
Imaginary Ships KanColle

So, KanColle is about imaginary girls, who can roller-blade across the water, and Arpeggio is about imaginary girls, created from computer core processors and nanomaterial sand. But Arpeggio has real ships, that take real damage, while KanColle has imaginary ship attributes attached to the imaginary girls.

High School Fleet, meanwhile, has real girls on real ships, worried about real things like showers and shopping.

The one cell that’s empty is Real Girls on Imaginary Ships. A show that filled that cell wouldn’t have to be as ship-free as KanColle. It could be a standard anime young girls are the only ones who can call these ships into existence. Think of it as a mecha show, but with ships.

Natsu no Arashi Season 2

May 31, 2019

In the interests of completeness, I watched Season 2 of Natsu no Arashi. It was good, but it could have been so much more.

Summer Girl

NNA is the story of four Japanese ghost girls who died in an air raid in 1945 and who can travel through time. In Season 1, two of the girls had reasons to go back to war-time Japan, and we had some interesting episodes centered on their goals. Several other episodes worked out their relationships with the other two ghost girls, and with the girls school they all went to in 1945. The rest of the episodes were slice-of-“life” comedy filler centered on the present day cafe where they worked during the summers.

Season 2 was more of the same …. slice-of-“life” comedy filler. The only recurrent theme was cross-dresser Kamigamo Jun and her efforts to keep protagonist Yasaka Hajime from finding out she was a girl. Meanwhile, there’s the obligatory beach/onsen episodes, a couple of transformation episodes, and the recurring short trips back in time to find lost tea bowls, A/C remote controls, and such. The relationship between Hajime and lead ghost girl Arashiyama Sayoko (Arashi) fills out a little bit (he goes back to ~1935 and saves her from some bullies, earning a kiss and a promise of a future kiss) but her destined departure at the end of summer is not fully explained.

Showa 10

The ending sees Arashi giving Hajime the promised kiss, and saying (to herself) my summer has not yet ended. This is a standard anime ending (our struggle continues) for when the source material has not yet concluded and they don’t want to write an anime original ending.

Heisei 21

The second season of the anime was released in October of 2009, while the seventh manga volume wasn’t released until March of 2010, with the eight volume following in September.

Unfortunately, those of us who don’t speak Japanese are not likely to find out the true ending. The manga ran through eight volumes/49 chapters in Japan (you can Kindle the whole set from Amazon Japan) and was never released in the US. Unfortunately, clicking on “Look Inside” on the Japanese versions didn’t help, and the available  scanlations only go up through Volume 6/Chapter 32.

Natsu no Arashi is a fun anime. Wah, over at Analog Housou first clued me into it. It is filled with zany time travel fun, and plots as convoluted as a Marx Brothers movie. Two things were disappointing. The first I’ve already alluded to — lack of closure. What happens to Arashi in the winter? Why doesn’t she think Hajime will remember her? What about Jun’s changing feelings toward Hajime, and toward outing herself as a girl? Answers cometh not.

Second was a failure to take advantage of the opportunity to exploit their time-travel-to-old-Japan hook. In Season 1, Arashi was introduced to us as someone who was interested in saving victims of the March 29th 1945 air raid, but she only went back once. Kaya wanted to speak to her loved one, but she only made one attempt. As an SF story once said, with time travel, you’re never too late.

What Natsu no Arashi really needs, and will probably never get, is a third season.

Meanwhile, the 箱舟 カフェ abides on the outskirts of Yokohama. It’s been around for untold years, and is likely to continue to be around even longer.

You’d almost expect the next owner to be an android named Alpha.

Natsu No Arashi

May 24, 2019

I started watching 2009’s Natsu No Arashi (Summer Storm) after seeing it listed as one of the more interesting anime of the last ten years. It wasn’t until I hit Episode 8 that I realized that I’d touched on it before, meaning that specific episode, as part of my research on the body-swapping anime Kokoro Connect, back in 2012. And that lead to the discovery that the 10th anniversary of Episode 8 was today, May 24th. What better excuse to do a writeup on the first, 13-episode season?

If spoilers for a 10 year old out of stock anime upset you, then stop here and go read my review of Citizen Kane.

What makes NNA interesting isn’t the body-swap half-episode. It’s interesting because it’s one of the few anime to directly address the home-front tribulations of Japan in WWII. The two female leads, and two later characters, were 16 year-old schoolgirls killed in a bombing raid on Yokohama on May 29th, 1945. They return as ghosts, but for some unexplained reason, only in the summer.

The main female lead is Arashiyama Sayoko, whose family name translates as Storm Mountain and who is called Arashi, for short. This plays nicely off the series name, which could also be translated as Summer’s Arashi. Her goal in the apre-vie is to go back to 1945 and rescue as many people as possible. But to travel in time, she needs to form a connection with someone from the present.

Early Shaft head tilt

Enter Yasaka Hajime, thirteen year-old typical shonen boy — high energy, high self-opinion, exaggerated concern with being seen as manly. Did I mention he is short, with square, dark-framed glasses? He develops an instant infatuation for Arashi, and becomes her connection for their many trips to the past.

Spoken like a true shonen

The rest of the cast is equally paired up:

  • Kaja Bergmann (Kaya) and Kamigamo Jun, ghost of a German schoolgirl and her contemp connection. Jun is a crossdressing girl because of anime reasons.
  • Fushimi Yayoi and Yamazaki Kanako, another pair of ghosts from Arashi’s school. Fushimi can connect with Hajime, and Yamazaki, it turns out, can connect with Murata.
  • Finally, there’s Sayaka (AKA Master), the cafe owner, and Murata Hideo, a private investigator.

The city they are on the outskirts of is Yokohama. Unlike other major cities in Japan, it had not been heavily bombed early in the war, and in the spring of 1945 it was protected by being on the short list of possible targets for the atomic bomb. When Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen, it was released to the general bombing list, and was heavily bombed on the 29th of May.

This isn’t a regular review, so I won’t go into details on the episodes. The first episode features some time-travel shenanigans involving a strawberry that’s been stuffed with hot spice powder, which serves to introduce all the characters. After that there are separate arcs in which Arashi/Hajime and Kaya/Jun go back to 1945, Kaya to see the man she was in love with, and Arashi to try to save people. Another arc deals with Yayoi and Kanako, and Kanako’s attempt to keep Yayoi corporeal by draining Arashi’s life force. The 13th episode looks like something you’d find as a DVD special — it’s a reprise of the first episode, but with a cherry instead of a strawberry, and everyone is in goofy costumes.

There are two aspects of NNA that are interesting beyond the actual story. First, is the look at wartime Japan. The anime shows the raids, and the B-29’s and the falling bombs. Houses burn and people die.

Not something you normally see in a shonen program. In the Yayoi/Kanako arc, you see high school girls drafted to work in an aircraft factory — one of the thousands of small scale installations that the Japanese used instead of following the German and American pattern of large production plants. This, by the way, was one of the justifications of the widespread fire-bombing campaign, because there were few concentrated high value targets. The girls work full time and are from all over. Yayoi is from a rich family (I think that’s her family mansion they end up haunting), while Kanako is a work-hardened girl from a poor family. In one sequence, Yayoi plays a concert for the girls during the weekly power blackout when the factory can’t operate.

Second, NNA has some interesting ideas about the effects of time travel. Two of Hajime’s strawberries disappear, one because his grandfather ate it, and the other because he came back in time and stole it from himself. Kaya was mad at Arashi because she never read the note she left in her diary at the school, that she was waiting at The Ark cafe, one of the few places to survive the war unbombed. They go back in time and bring the diary forward to the present, which means it wasn’t there when Arashi stopped to look for it. More significantly, Arashi goes back to 1945 and shelters a crying child during the air raid, telling him to be a hero. Later, in a trip to 1985, they meet a brash young child who informs them that his father keeps telling him that it’s important to be a hero. His father was the child that Arashi saved. Back in the present, it turns out that the private investigator is that child, all grown up and still brash — he carries a sword (practice or real, depending on the job) and drives a souped-up Vespa (another example of the goofy humor embedded in the anime).

On the tragic side, when Kaya/Jun go back, they project from the current day cafe to the cafe in 1945. Their arrival wakes up the owner (who Kaya is in love with), and he proceeds to go home, where he’s killed in the bombing. If he had stayed in the cafe, he’d have survived.

So, that’s the first season. It’s different enough that it should be on everyone’s watchlist. Crunchyroll has both seasons, but one never knows for how long.

 

 

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2019 Part 2

April 13, 2019

As we head into the second week of the season, the latecomers and early bloomers start to fade.

Senryu Girl: Socially inept high school girl can only communicate by high speed calligraphating of 17-character messages on short boards. Joins the literature club to improve her writing. Meets standard anime trope #54, bad boy with heart of gold who has trouble communicating. A little too contrived for my taste. In addition, Senryu was the name of a fighter plane in the game Sky Crawlers, so I keep waiting for her to suit up and take off.

Namu Amida Butsu! Utena:  Bishi gods come down to Tokyo. Clueless bishi gods. This has so been done before, with magical swords, and magical historic heroes, and magical drain covers (OK, I lied about that last one, but wait until Summer).

Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki:  Boy from Brooklyn moves to Boston, where everybody talks funny. Sorry. Boy from Tokyo moves to Nagoya, where everybody talks funny. Like the short about Osaka of a few years back, this falls into the “You might be a redneck if…” category.

Nobunaga Sensei no Osanazuma: Is 2019 the year of the ethically challenged teacher? Time traveling 14-year old bride lands in the house of the descendant of the guy she’s supposed to marry, immediately strips off and suggests baby-making. Teacher/descendant has a hard time keeping his hands off the child. Next thing you know, the show will be talking about suppositories. Fortunately, even the uncensored version is censored.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Spring 2019 Part 1

April 8, 2019

Some horses fall at the first fence. Some anime don’t make it through the first episode. Not that they’re bad, as such, but that they are too too obviously not of interest to me, personally.

Amazing Stranger Tiny humanoid space explorer lands on Earth, only to end up purchased as an anime character figurine. A true teen flick, because it’s too mature for kids, and too stupid for adults.

Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu Socially inept grade schooler enters middle school, tries to make friends with her entire class because her only friend, now attending a different school, said she’d dump her if she didn’t. Doesn’t realize that if she makes just one good friend in the new school, she doesn’t need the old one. Or maybe I’m just not into middle school anime.

Why the hell are you here, teacher? That’s what I want to know. Another season, another set of inappropriate student-teacher interactions (are suppositories the new thing?). Harsh sound track, too much shouting, stupidly contrived situations. Doesn’t rise to the intellectual level of Domestic Girlfriend. Twelve minutes is twelve minutes too long.

The Rising of the Shield Hero This is the second cour of an anime that started last season. Average non-otaku guy is shanghaied into an isekai world where he is promptly doublecrossed by the local royal family, which sours his outlook on everything thereafter. Obtains a couple of cute female non-human slaves, who promptly fall in love with him and try to improve his attitude. It’s working, and it’s a halfway decent anime, until the start of the secound cour, when he gets doublecrossed again. Can you say “Perils of Pauline”? Can you say “Jumping the shark”?

I was wrong … they’re bad.

Kotobuki: Parts of it are Magnificent

April 4, 2019

Think of it as Girls und Panzer meets Porco Rosso.

In another dimension, or astral plane, or something, exists a world named Ijitsu, that looks a lot like Australia — mostly howling wilderness. It used to have an ocean, but a wormhole of some sort opened up, destroyed the oceans, devastated the countryside and dumped a lot of military technology (including every type of Japanese WWII fighter), plus curry, rice, and pancakes, onto them. This all happened courtesy of the Yufang, who appear to be alternate timeline Japanese.

A town like Alice

Now the people of Ijitsu live a hardscrabble existence in a scattering of tiny outback towns, tied together with zeppelin flights and bepestered by air pirates. The six girls who are part of the Kotobuki Squadron* fly escort off of one of the zeppelins, fighting off the air pirates and making sure their cargo, or passengers, make it through safely.

Carrier based aircraft

Unfortunately, there’s a shadowy organization, the Brotherhood of Freedom Union, led by Isao, the mayor of the biggest city on Ijitsu, a guy who can smile and joke while ordering the destruction of entire towns, and who wants to exploit any new holes that appear and use that technology to take over the world. The Union employs dozens of fighter units and is systematically intimidating all the small towns to join up. The Kotobuki Girls are not really interested in this. As with Firefly, they just want to find a job, find a crew, keep flying. Of course, they get dragged in, end up as part of the big final battle, and are instrumental in destroying a newly opened hole and the death of the mayor.

Girls at war

Got that? Good. Now ignore it. The heart of the anime is the flying, and everything else is just an excuse. Every episode has a multiplane dogfight, and every dogfight is of heart-stopping intensity. Along the way we get to see all of these WWII fighters in action, plus some machines that never made it into the sky on our timeline — the Kyushu J7W1 Shiden, of which only two were ever built, and the Nakajima G10N Fugaku heavy bomber, only ever seen on the cover of model airplane boxes.

The bomber that never was

I suspect that Director Mizushima is doing what Miyazaki was unable to do in The Wind is Rising, celebrate the warplanes of WWII without having to insert an extended apology for Japan’s role in the war. Even though he ended the film before the start of the war, Miyazaki was still criticised for not saying enough about it. But if you have Japanese fighters shooting down Japanese fighters on an alternate world on an alternate timeline there’s no way you can be guilty of glorifying the Pacific War, right?

George and Betty

Meanwhile, we have the Kotobuki Girls. Each of the six has her own personality and her own reason for flying.

Come as you are

They are portrayed in 3DCG, and are not quite ready for prime time — their faces are stiff, and their movements seem more like those of marionettes. Be that as it may, they are all individuals, and you find yourself rooting for them in all of their fights.

Fight’s on!

And the heart of the series is the dogfights. You see the action from all sides, and from inside the cockpit. You hear the clang of bullets hitting metal, and you hear the creak of that metal stressed to its limit.  At the end of every episode, I had a bad case of the leans, from following the planes as they pulled g’s.

Another kill for Kotobuki

The ending is a magnificent swirling fight in and over the capital city, and under the newest hole. Parts of it make you think of the trench run in the first Star Wars.

Turn right at the next intersection

In the end, Kotobuki sacrifices their zeppelin to close the hole,

They’ll never catch this dirigible!

the good guys win, and fly off into the sunset.

All’s right with the world

From a flying standpoint, anime artist’s license excepted, I have two complaints about the air battles.

First, it’s too hard to tell what’s going on. All of the fights are big, multi-plane furballs,  presented as a series of vignettes featuring one-on-one engagements (sometimes with a saving intervention), but there’s nothing that gives a good view of the overall structure of the battle. In Garupan, you always had the feeling that you knew where everyone was and that you knew how the fight was rolling out. Not so with Kotobuki. Now, air battles are notoriously hard to follow. You dive in, you engage an enemy, and suddenly you are alone in the sky; or an enemy jumps you, you dive away from them, and when you recover, the fight’s move on. But usually there’s some preliminary structure — “You draw off the fighters, you go after the bombers” — even if it breaks down on contact.

Which brings me to my second complaint about the flying. There’s no sign of any real teamwork. In WWII, the US developed a number of leader/wingman concepts, which gave us a significant advantage over the Japanese, even though our fighters were outmatched by the Zero, one on one. In Kotobuki, everyone piles in on their own, and if they see a chance to help a team-mate they will. That’s good team spirit. It’s not good team work. As a result, The Kotobuki Girls are protected mostly by plot armor.

 

Preflight check

From a drama standpoint, if I have one complaint, it’s that the action is all bloodless, at least on the Kotobuki side. Josh Whedon once said that if you have a fight and nobody important dies, people just say “Oh, look. They’re shooting.” That’s the way Kotobuki is.

Despite that, I’d still call it magnificent.

*Kotobuki, 寿, A Yufang word meaning good fortune, congratulations, or long life, but we don’t find out about that until the end.

Domestic Girlfriend: A well-done anime about stupid people

March 31, 2019

Domestic Girlfriend (Domesutikku na Kanojo) is predicated on a set of ridiculous coincidences. High school boy has the hots for one of his teachers (as often happens). He also pulls a one night stand with a HS girl he met at a karaoke party (and where were those girls when I was in HS?). Shortly thereafter his widowed father re-marries and brings into the household a divorcee with two daughters — an older one who teaches HS, and a younger one who goes to karaoke parties. Spoilers follow.

Meet your new family

The inevitable happens, and the boy starts an affair with his teacher-sister. Twelve episodes later the inevitable also happens, and they get outed. Meanwhile, he’s trying to kickstart a career as an author. Meanwhile, the younger sister is developing feelings for him.

At the end, the older sister has to quit her job and move to a different school to avoid a scandal, despite which they still have feelings for each other. Meanwhile, the younger sister declares that she is going to go all out to win his heart. Also, he wins a writing prize.

On the good side, studio Diomedéa handled the story very well. This could have been treated as a harem romcom, or as some sort of operatic high drama. Instead, it was more like a soap opera, and I say that as a good thing. What was bad were the people.

Let’s start with Hina, the older sister. She’s in her second year as a teacher but she still has the mannerisms of a student — flirting, slapping the boys on the butt, getting drunk in the evening. Unable to control her emotions, and despite being quite aware of the suicidal consequences, she enters into a relationship with a student maybe five years younger than her, and ends up having sex with him (BTW, in the course of the anime we find out that she previously had an affair with a married man, who she thinks about when masturbating with her bedroom door open, so there’s a pattern here). In this case she is incredibly lucky, and when they get caught she just gets shunted off to a different school, presumably in a different prefecture. In the real world such actions would get her jailed, or at least fired and barred from teaching for life. Her life is going to be a series of bad decisions, and there is no way she should be a teacher.

That’s “Hina-sensei”

Then there’s Natsuo, her underage paramour. Like many high school boys he thinks with his crotch and has zero concept of what the word consequences means. Whether it’s attempting to kiss Hina when she’s drunk and unconcious, grabbing her in the school hallway or at a festival, or concocting a story to cover his visits to her apartment without coordinating with the guy he’s using for cover — twice — he demonstrates zero ability to think beyond the end of his dick.

Yes, we’re at school, but no-one will notice if we duck down like this

At the end of the last episode he claims he still has feelings for Hina but does nothing to reject sister Rui when she gets physical. He’s the kind of guy who is likely to have his head turn up in a school bag.

Maybe she overpowered him

Finally, we have younger sister Rui. Same age as Natsuo, member of the same HS writing club (once she changes schools), made a straightforward and unemotional decision to lose her virginity with a casual meetup. Shy and retiring, she has the most rational and straightforward personality of the bunch.

Yeah, that relationship

When Natsuo executes a standard anime trope and inadvertently walks in on her in the bath, she simply says “You’ve seen me already”, instead of screaming and throwing things. Her major flaw is getting romantic feelings about Natsuo, despite his obvious chasing of her older sister.

The rest of the cast is mostly good people, who help Natsuo out probably more than he deserves: best friend from middle school, gay yakuza coffee shop owner, only slightly creepy writing club advisor, shy girl and flirty girl who both fall for Natsuo (maybe it is a harem anime). Their parents are typical good parents (atypical for anime), concerned about their children and willing to sacrifice to make sure they are happy. Yes, OK, there’s also the totally pointless and irritating American transfer student. Is this the way we look overseas?

You sometimes hear an anime described as a trainwreck. This is an anime about a trainwreck, about how two flawed people imperiled their lives and futures.

Close the drapes, damnit!

The story is handled well. The ending is not as solid as it might be, but that’s because the source manga is ongoing. Judging from descriptions of the source the ending is probably the best possible, under the circumstances.

If you like well-written drama that doesn’t involve mechas, spikey hair, or lots of shouting, and you don’t mind having to read three layers down in the character list to find someone relatable, then you’ll probably like this anime.

Anime Preview: Spring 2019

March 11, 2019

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 title and the cover art.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels and continuations of stuff I didn’t like before (Million Arthur, Bogipop) shorts and kids stuff (Isekai Quartet, Cinderella Girls ), movies and OVA’s, and anything with Fafner in the title.

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

Shoumetsu Toshi: I bought this Vespa secondhand, from a girl with a blue Rickenbacker 4001 left-handed electric bass guitar

Carole & Tuesday: If only we knew someone with a Rickenbacker 4001 left-handed electric bass guitar, our trio would be complete

Konoyo no Hate: My father is a werewolf

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

Hachigatsu No Cinderella Nine: Heisei baseball girls

Mix: Reiwa baseball girls

Kono Oto Tomare: Stop this sound

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

Jimoto na Japan: The return of Elvis

Aikatsu Friends: Magical Girl Magicgirl

Sarazanmai: The wave Hokusai never painted

When algorithms go wrong

March 3, 2019

Here is the latest lead image for “Self Help Books” on Amazon

Evidently, they have a fairly broad idea of what “self help” means

VRV: Aggregation vs Aggravation 3

February 10, 2019

I give up. VRV is just too clunky for general use. I found myself looking at the individual Crunchyroll and HIDIVE schedules on the PC, and then going into the next room to find the appropriate VRV episode on the TV and fighting the VRV user interface to watch what I want.

Meanwhile, CR has been adding shows from the current season that once were only available on HIDIVE (Kotobuki, Domestic Girlfriend). As a result there’s only two TV anime (Real Girl and Rocket Girls) and a movie (Girls und Panzer der Film), plus some nostalgic old programs and OVA’s (Taisho Baseball Girls, Kokoro Connect, Maid Sama) that are only presented by HIDIVE this season.

I tell you what. I’ll just treat VRV ($10/month) like it was an expensive HIDIVE ($5/month)subscription. So, $7/month for CR and $10/month for VRVHIDIVE means I’m spending $17 a month to feed my anime habit, instead of $15. Considering that I’m watching about seven shows a week (plus nostalgics), that’s not very much.

VRV: Aggregation vs Aggravation 2

February 7, 2019

So, remember how I said that VRV had presented my watchlist as a set of cover art, with the actual title writ small? Well, today they fixed that, on the PC side. Without warning or explanation. This is a case of trying to do the right thing, in the worst way possible.

Smaller pictures, smaller font

The new list is a set of screenshots of my current episodes, instead of the series artwork. The pictures are about the same size as those on the Crunchyroll watchlist, so they can fit more on the screen. At the bottom of each frame they have a heart, so you can put some of the items on the watchlist into your favorites list, and a garbage can, so you can cast some into the outer darkness. They also have a colorful indicator if it’s a movie or a TV series, and a slightly less clear indication if it’s a sub or a dub — things you already know if you put them on the watchlist. One useful feature is a yellow box with “new” in it, in the upper left corner of the picture, indicating if the episode is the newest in the series (but not all the new episodes have that, and some episodes marked “new” are not the newest).

What’s missing? How about the anime title? Oh, there it is, beneath the picture, in a small, dark grey on darker grey font. The font appears to be slightly smaller than the font that tells me if its a sub or a dub. The season, episode number, and episode title are below the picture, in a much bigger, white on dark grey font. This is useful if you remember that Season 1, Episode 4 of Girly Air Force is titled “The World You See”

Finally, tucked into the lower right corner of the episode picture is a white on black number that tells me either how many minutes are left in that episode or how many minutes of it I’ve watched, with no indication of why they chose which number.

And finally, finally, if you click on the pic, it brings up a new page that autoruns that episode. You have to pause it, then scroll down if you want to see other episodes or series comments.

So, there are good and bad ideas in the new U/I, with the good ideas concentrated in the areas we don’t care about, and the bad ideas applied where they’ll do the most harm. In addition, this change (so far) has only been made for the PC interface. The TV/Roku interface remains unchanged, which can cause cognitive issues for users who switch back and forth.

 

Anime worth watching: Bloom Into You

February 4, 2019

Naname’s Back, and Koito’s Got Her

This is a straight up romance anime between two high school girls. What’s called yuri, in the trade. I should note that I am not the target demographic — I’m male and I’m old.

Q. How old are you?

A. Old. Old. I’m older than Donald Trump. I’m older than Eric Clapton. I’m older than Cher, OK?

Still, that gives me a certain distance, a certain perspective, that others might not have. Being from a time when boys tended to be oblivious to this sort of thing, and girls took a more Aoi Azusa approach, I don’t have the personal and hormonal involvements that others might.

Q. So,why did you watch it?

A. I recently traded in my Crunchyroll subscription for VRV, which opened up HIDIVE and a whole new library of anime backlist, including Bloom, which was recent, and highly regarded. I watched it on my TV using Roku, which presented some technical issues, mentioned below.

Q. What’s it about

A. Girl meets girl, girl falls for girl, other girl doesn’t fall for girl, girls continue that relationship.

Q. Could you be more specific? I don’t mind spoilers.

A. Koito Yū, our first year protagonna, meets Nanami Tōko, her second year senpai, while helping out at the Student Council. Nanami is the typical anime perfect girl — top of her class, good at sports, soon to be Student Council President, etc. Avowedly asocial when it comes to things like dating, except that 24hrs after meeting her, she decides that Koito is the one who makes her heart go doki-doki. Koito, meanwhile, is still waiting for that moment and has zero romantic inclinations. Nanami essentially forces them into a relationship, but Koito says she doesn’t mind, she just doesn’t love Nanami back. Nanami, for some anime reason, is fine with this.

The first few episodes deal with the establishment of the relationship. Nanami asks Koito to be her campaign manager for the Student Council elections, surprise kisses her at a railroad crossing (while a train passes, meaning that only half the world can see what they’re doing), later elicits a more consensual kiss in the Student Council building, and gives her a planetarium night light as a souvenir gift from a recent trip. Despite the asymmetrical kohai/senpai* power relationship, Koito appears to be more consenting than coerced. One reason for this might be that Nanami is a person who maintains one (perfect) face to all the world, letting only Koito see her insecurities and self doubt (“Don’t fall in love with me, I don’t want you to love someone I hate“).

The second half deals with Nanami‘s desire to have the Student Council put on a stage play, something that hasn’t been done these last seven years. Soon, Koito finds out that the last play was arranged by Nanami‘s older sister when she was Student Council President, but the play, and the tradition, were abandoned after the older Nanami was killed in a car crash. As an aside, Japanese must be terrible drivers, given the number of deaths reported in anime.

We can use my father’s barn!

Meanwhile, a student friend of Koito agrees to write the play script, and comes up with a story about an amnesiac student who is trying to find out what her original personality was like, but gets three different answers from three different people.

In quick succession, Koito finds out about Nanami‘s older sister, and how Nanami is devoting herself to replacing her sister in the world, while Nanami finds out that her sister was far from perfect. This causes Nanami a major identity crisis (almost like in the play, what a surprise), and it also induces Koito to ask her friend to change the ending of the play — instead of taking on the persona reported by her lover, the amnesiac will adapt her own persona, as revealed over the course of the play.

The anime ends … umm… halts, with nothing resolved. The two girls go on a date to the local aquarium and in the post-credits Nanami falls asleep on Koito on the train home, with Koito gazing at her fondly. At the very end, Koito grasps her hand and whispers “senpai…”, with a long pause, and everyone waits for her to say “I love you“, but instead she says “…we need to change trains now“, and the end card appears. The series is over, and Koito has not told Nanami about the change in the play, and has not admitted that she may be developing feelings for her senpai.

Q. And what did you think of it?

A. I liked it. I liked it a lot. It was straight up romance, not rom-com or some  flavor of harem anime. There was no spiky hair, no yelling, and no mechas. To the extent that one got to know them, the characters were all likeable. (Note that, to keep this essay short, I am leaving out a lot of characters, including Nanami‘s childhood friend Saeki Sayaka, who makes for a low-key love triangle, the two adult women in a lesbian relationship that is probably unique in anime, all Koito‘s other friends and the rest of the Student Council).  Their conversations were (mostly) lifelike, and their actions were (mostly) understandable, if we excuse Nanami falling in love with Koito eighteen minutes into Episode 1 as anime artist’s license. There were parents who did parenting, and teachers who taught and advised. None was a caricature.

One of the things I liked was how Bloom tells its story in small gestures. For example, there’s a trope in anime of the indirect kiss — where you drink from a container that the other person just drank from. Very often this is a big deal, sometimes with panicky voices and waving of hands. At one point in Bloom, however, Nanami opens a bottle of soda and hands it to Koito, who takes a drink and hands it back. Koito is oblivious, but Nanami stares at it for a long moment, before drinking from it herself, and the scene moves on.

Kissu

None of the plot turns were based on standard shonen anime misunderstandings-of-the-obvious, and none of the characters were as dense as the average shonen protagonist, but then that just might be girls being smarter than boys. The physical side of the romance was very muted (despite her feelings, Nanami didn’t get beyond first base), she and the girls are proportioned like humans, and the fanservice was limited to a shot of her in her underwear, and her and Koito (et al.) up to their armpits in the bath.

Visually, Bloom is very soft. The art is very clean, and the colors are mostly pastels. Many of the scenes are bathed in the orange glow of sunset, what the Japanese call tasogare, the yellow dark.

The golden days of youth

One glaring note is not the fault of the anime. The presentation I am watching is from HIDIVE via VRV over Roku on my TV, and VRV on Roku uses black bands with white lettering for the subtitles, instead of the preferred yellow-on-picture that VRV on the PC uses. That’s not too bad, except VRV/Roku likes to put the sub in the middle of the screen, and sometimes it will double up the subtitle, which is irritating and can obscure most of the picture.

The music is provided by a subdued, unobtrusive piano.

The ending is very European.** We can see the form of the resolution, but they don’t feel the need to spell it out.  Of course, the fact that the anime used up all the available source material may have had something to do with it. Volume 5 of the manga (the aquarium trip) was published in Japan in January of 2018, and Volume 6 (the play) didn’t come out until 27 September, eight days before the anime aired in Japan. If the publishing cycle holds true, we won’t get a sequel until Fall of 2021. To my mind, if they waited a year, or even a season, and then used the play as a wrap-up, they’d have had a much stronger story.

I’m not a manga person, but I bought Volume 1 on Amazon just to see, and the anime tracks it very closely. There’s a suspicious-looking (“English language not guaranteed”) third-party blue-ray on Amazon for the low, low price of $144. You might want to wait on that.

——-

*Junior/Senior status, for those not used to anime

**It reminds me of the British detective shows we watched when we were living there in the 1970’s. They had the same sort of ambiguous endings, instead of the US style full closure arrest and sentencing. Foreigners seem to be more comfortable with ambiguity than we are.

 

VRV: Aggregation vs Aggravation

January 30, 2019

As a long time Crunchyroll subscriber, I just switched to VRV because it includes both CR and HIDIVE and works on Roku (and HIDIVE doesn’t work on Roku yet). I’ve only been running it for a week, but already I have some opinions on the new service.

PRO: It aggregates the two services that provide the majority of the anime that I like this year. I also get Amazon Prime, but that seems to be past its …. prime.

CON: Having said that, I am paying for 11 different channels, only two of which I watch. On the other hand, while only two of the seven ongoing shows I’m watching on VRV this season are from HIDIVE (the rest being CR), an additional twelve good shows are HIDIVE exclusives from past seasons.

PRO: A nice touch at the beginning is that VRV will remind you that you can drop your CR subscription so that you don’t double pay.

CON: But CR keeps the money you already gave them and the savings only kick in on your next renewal date. If you paid last December, you have to wait until next December.

Now for the cons with no pros.

CON: The transfer doesn’t bring over your CR watchlist, even though both services are Ellation companies. You have to load it all over again.

CON: The VRV user interface

a. The watchlist is displayed in the order you added/watched them in, most recent on top, and can’t be changed, except it changes every time you watch something.

b. On CR, it’s two clicks from your watchlist to your most recent episode. On VRV, you go through the series intro screens. It’s like having to go through the CR “View Show” page each time.

CR episode selector

VRV episode selector

 

c. The HD subs are white-on-black-bar, instead of CR’s plain white, and block more of the picture. That’s presumably a HD problem, not VRV.

d. The VRV watchlist display is dominated by each program’s cover art (with a smaller duplicate inserted), and the actual names (for those of us who don’t relate to pictures) are in a much smaller font. This is an issue because you have to do a lot of hunting through your watchlist to find stuff.

CR watchlist

VRV watchlist

e. On Roku, but not on the PC version, at the end of each episode, VRV starts a 10sec countdown, showing the progress bar at the bottom of the screen. You know, exactly across where the subtitles are. This isn’t bad if the program is one that just runs out the ED, and it isn’t too bad if the program is one that only shows spoilers of coming attractions, but it’s terrible if the program is one that comes back with some post-credits story line. I could watch stuff on the PC, but I bought a Roku exactly so I wouldn’t have to do that — so I could sit in my living room and watch Samurai Girls on the big screen.

f. And speaking of (b.), the VRV ‘Program Summary’ doesn’t provide a lot of information on what you’ve watched and haven’t watched. The display for a partially watched episode shows a very thin progress bar. If you have watched the full episode, or if you haven’t watched it at all, there’s nothing. CR lets you know how much you’ve watched of each episode.

g. Possibly worst of all, with VRV there’s no way to tell from the watchlist display if an ongoing series has added a new episode. CR will post a new picture and grey out the progress bar. In VRV I have to open up the Program Summary and count the eps. Well, it’s also possible to bookmark the weekly schedule lists on both CR and HIDIVE and check there every day or so.

h. No, this is worst of all. CR knows the most recent episode you have played through, and when you come back it starts up at the next one in the series. This is true even when you just watched the latest available episode. When you come back a week later, CR will start up at the next/newest ep. VRV has no memory of what you have done. If you are marathoning a bunch of eps, it will jump from the end of one to the start of the next. But if you stop in the middle on a season, or if you play through the latest episode and come back later, you have to go into the Program Summary, go to the list of episodes, find the latest, and click on it.

So, as of this writing, early 2019, a Premium membership in VRV is $10/month, while CR is $7/month and HIDIVE is $5/month. Once HIDIVE is available by itself on Roku (they claim to be working on it), a combined membership would be $12/month, compared with the VRV $10/month. The question is, is getting rid of the VRV interface worth $2/month? Depending on what the HIDIVE interface is like, the answer is probably “yes”.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2019 Part 3

January 25, 2019

The final three, or is it twelves?

The Price of Smiles. Price, not Prince. Country S is run by newly-anointed 12 year-old Princess Yuki, who wants everyone on the planet to smile. Country G is poorer and militaristic and trying to conquer country S. Twelve year-old Princess Yuki sends her childhood friend to the front line to try to negotiate a truce, so of course he gets deaded. Lots of death. Lots of mecha fights. Very little to hold my interest. Did I mention that the 12 year-old protagonna is only twelve?

All I want is smiles

Endro! Apparently, Princess Yuki has a second job, as a the hero Yulia. She and her band of merry heroines want everybody to be able to smile, so they exile the Demon Lord (Momonga, working his second job) to a distant place and time. Actually, they just sent him a few years back in time, where/when he becomes a cute female teacher at their school, where he tries get her and her friends, now 12 years old, thrown out. An original anime that looks like it was inspired by a battle card game.

All I want is smiles

Dororo. Yet another zombie reboot. Based on a 1967 manga via a 1969 anime and a live action movie from twelve years ago. Dororo is a young boy (who may be a girl in disguise, depending on what you use as a source) assists a young man named Hyakkimaru (AKA 100 demon circles) who is looking for his missing body parts what were sold to demons to finance his father’s political career (so, a lot like the GOP today). There are lots of people who like this one but I find it’s got too much blood and angst and everyone has a past that comes back to haunt them. There’s not one normie in the bunch. To make things worse, Dororo isn’t even twelve.

All I want is my left leg

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2019 Part 2

January 23, 2019

Another day another drop. Or three.

Grimms Notes the Animation. So, there’s these four adventurers/superheros, in storyland. In storyland, everyone has their own storybooks, that tell them what their life will be like. And no, you can’t change what’s written there. In one part of storyland, Red Riding Hood is more of a job description, and generations of women have gone out to be eaten by the wolf (it says here) and then rescued by the Hunter. But someone is changing the stories, and the current Red Riding Hood doesn’t want to get on the cart.

Enter Our blank book Heroes, who convert to their superhero form — Cinderella, Robin Hood, Alice, and Goliath (Goliath? In plate armor?) — defeat the foes (for now), reset everyone’s memories, and get li’l Red to agreed to be et.

Episode 2 has Our Heroes meet Don Quixote and his waifu Rosinante.

It feels like the director just picked up whatever fairy tale element looked good and slapped them on the wall to see if they made a storyboard.

While on the road to grandma’s house, Red Riding Hood meets four suspicious strangers.

Date A Live. Season 3, I think. Seasons 1 and 2 only available on Funimation, I think. I watched one of them some years ago, probably.

Our Hero is the on-the-ground agent for a secret organization that’s protecting the city, run by his lollipop-sucking loli sister (lol). The SOtPtC has a futuristic control center, with controllers sitting at control consoles and providing surveillance of just about everything. Our Hero’s job is to find the invading spirits (all girls, of course) and ‘seal’ them by getting them to fall in love with him. So, just your everyday true-to-life anime. This season’s maguffin is a shape-shifting spirit who is disappearing all the girls in his life, one by one.

Too, too, generic characters and harem situation. Plot is silly, even for anime.

It’s probably best that they all go away.

Saint Seiya Santia Sho. Another zombie blast from the past that just won’t die. It’s based on a 2012 reboot of a 1989 anime from a 1986 manga. Rebooted again this year. Magical girls without the sexy transformation scenes. Jojo inspired art and a daytime anime vibe (Yes, kids! You too can own the Santia Shyoko action figure with golden trident!). Wrong demographic, wrong aesthetic.

Never trust a character with tentacle hair.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2019 Part 1

January 21, 2019

This season I had 16 new programs to watch, 15 on Crunchyroll and one on Amazon Prime (have you noticed that AP’s offerings have trailed off since they closed Anime Strike?). I got a slow start because of the Panama trip (see sidebar), but it gives me the chance to work my way through, two or three episodes at a time.

So far, I’ve watched eight, and am dropping four.

My Roommate is a Cat. Writer takes in a stray cat, and they bond. Except that the cat doesn’t think or act anything like a real cat would: Oh, he’s passed out on the floor. That’s like my siblings did when they starved. I better push my food bowl over to him. Plus, I’m not a cat fancier.

catpic
I am a cat. Of course I’ll share my food

The Promised Neverland. Bunch of 11 year-olds escape from an orphanage into a world of horror. Or something, I dropped it as they went out the gate. I’m not interested in characters that young.

kids
Here’s some kids. If you like them.

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files. Confused plot and uninteresting characters. Later, I found out it was a Fate/xx spinoff, which explains it.

cast pic
Not one of these characters is worth caring about.

Rinshii!! Ekodachan. Very strange anime. Protagonist is a dirt-poor Tokyo working girl who spends most of her on-screen time naked. If it weren’t for the minimalist art style, that might be exciting. It’s twelve episodes by twelve different directors and 12 different seiyuus. Kindof like Space Dandy, but without the budget. What drives it over the edge is the fact that each standard 24-minute episode consists of 4 minutes of anime, and 20 minutes of discussion with the director and seiyuu. Might be worth four minutes of your time.

Oh, I’m so bored

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2018 Part 2

October 21, 2018

Wrapping up the early-season cleanout, we start with a bunch of ghost stories.

My Sister, My Writer — Ghost writer for a siscon novelist wannabe makes him popular with all the girls.

Voice of Fox — Ghost singer for an idol with no singing voice makes him famous while working part time as a florist.

Zombieland — Ghost idols for a rural prefecture mark the end of the whole anime-idol industry.

SSSS.Gridman — Mecha vs Monsters at Neon Genesis High School. Really cool if you’re an old Gainax Studio fan.

Jingai-san no Yome — Literal translation: non-human sentient being’s bride. High school boy is told he’s to be the bride of a large, furry, Miyazaki-esque monster. Says, “Oh, OK”.  It’s only three minutes per episode, but life is too short, ya know?

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2018

October 20, 2018

So, we are three weeks into the season, and I’m starting to drop shows already. No screenshots, ’cause I’m maxed out on work this weekend.

Anima Yell — Your basic template going to koshien sports anime with cute girls doing cute [fill in blank]. In this case, cheerleading.

As Miss Beelzebub likes — Too too sweet. One hundred and eighty degree difference from Cool Hand Hozuki.

Between the Sky and the Sea — Fish farms in space, and why girls can’t be piscenauts.

Conception — One hundred percent [insert male here] anime about coerced (on both sides) sex. Without any actual, you know…sex

Double Decker — Idiot detective hero wannabe gets assigned to a group of misfits in a special drugs unit. Too delightfully goofy (Take off all your clothes and convince the terrorist you’re a time traveler. Oh, OK.) for me.

Himote House — Cute girls doing cute things in a shared house in Tokyo. The animation (and the acting) is the spiritual descendant of Straight Title Robot Anime.

RErideD Derrida — Started out as a Door Into Summer remake, ended up being deconstructed as a door-into-winter post-robotic-apocalypse pot boiler.

Senran Kagura — Competing groups of good and bad shinobi, AKA ninjas, all high school girls. You can get an idea of what it’s like from the fact that Crunchyroll has released both a censored and uncensored version.

UzaMaid — Depending on which reviewer you read, it’s a horror story about a pedophilic maid who terrorizes a child, and said child can’t convince anyone it’s happening. OR It’s a happy romp about a tough former JASDF Master Sergeant who plays Mary Poppins to a rebellious youngster. Your choice.

 

Anime Preview Fall 2018

August 26, 2018

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 title and the cover art.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (IdolM@ster, Tokyo Ghoul), kids stuff (Hoshi no Shima , Captain Tsubasa ), movies and OVA’s, and anything with The in the title.

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

1. Akanesasu Shoujo: Four girls try to survive a storm at sea

2. Ulysses – Jeanne d’Arc: Young girl tries to drive the English out of Dublin

3. Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken: Riding the unicorn cat-bus

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

1. Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet: All girl Romeo and Juliet

2. Tsurune: BL with weapons, but hey, it’s KyoAni

3. Yagate Kimi ni Naru: two girls lost in the woods. It’s getting cold, and they have only one pair of stockings

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

1. Tokigoe no Derrida: Young engineer deconstructs AI’s

2. Shuudengo, Capsule Hotel: Nihon bodice ripper

3. Anima Yell!: Young girls learn to spell out words with their arms, suddenly learn about Kanji

 

Starlight Promises

August 10, 2018

Starlight Promises really wants to be a Miyazaki movie. It has the young protagonists, the mystical happenings, the colorful animation. What it lacks is heart. And coherency.

Spoilers follow.

Mihara Shoma gets a call from his former best friend, who he hasn’t seen in years, inviting him to meet at a location in the mountains. That location turns out to be the site of a Tanabata festival, celebrating the legend of the celestial lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi. His friend isn’t there, but he meets a hologram AI named Kana, and a girl,  Senozawa Shiori. It turns out that this festival is also designed to carry out a ritual that will let the participants meet anyone they wish to. The participants — several dozen of them — build the stage settings, and Mihara and Shiori are to enact the parts of the star-crossed lovers.

Kana and Shoma and Shiori

We immediately have questions.

How do they gain the skills needed to carpenter up an elaborate stage setting? How do they know how to move in the ritual?

It’s just like Ikea

How do the rest of the participants know how to do the Busby Berkely dance number at the start of the ritual? Well, they have these AI suits, that just know how to move to do things, ya know? And the wearer is sortof goes along for the ride.

We built it, and we can dance on it

OK, so how does the ritual conjure up the ghosts (and it looks to be all ghosts, nobody’s asking to meet Shinzō Abe) of the people the participants want to see? Well, so, it’s not really those people. It’s a new super-AI program that can take in all the information about the person and recreate a hologram of them. The participants just get to pretend they are real.

For that matter, why are they doing this during a Tanabata festival? Wouldn’t a Bon festival, honoring the dead, be more appropriate? Could it be that the Bon festival doesn’t have a romantic couple at the center?

Back in the action, the festival AI is malfunctioning, because of the existence of Kana. Why? They don’t say. In any event, it conjures up [AI hologram depictions of] the ghosts of the former castle, who proceed to attack the participants. Shoma and Shiori fight them off, using skills their AI suits taught them (and swords that are really debugging tools), while Kana sacrifices herself to install the patch, or something. Since this is hologram on AI suit action, nobody actually gets hurt, but they all act as if they could.

We will avenge our lord!

At the end, there’s a lantern ceremony, and everyone gets to see the person of their choice. Shoma sees his friend Atsushi — who it turns out is dead and Shoma just forgot about it, as often happens in anime — and Shiori sees her sister. Then the lanterns take flight, and the ghostly holograms fade away. Shoma and Shiori have found closure, and look to become friends, leaving open the possibility of a Starlight Promises Afterstory.

Is it really you?

Part of the problem with this anime is that Starlight Promises is only one hour long. That’s not enough time to develop the multiple threads of the story, or even the explanations and backstory and such. On the other hand, the whole knights-of-the-old-castle thing seems just bolted on, as if they needed some conflict to pad things out but couldn’t figure out what to do. Finally, the heart of the anime, the recall of the dead, is based on a logical fallacy. The participants are not talking to the dead, they’re talking to an AI construct, an updated version of ELIZA, from half a century ago.

But it looks pretty

Overall, Starlight Promises isn’t bad, but it’s not Miyazaki. It’s an OK way to waste an hour, unless there’s a My Neighbor Totoro rerun on.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2018

July 28, 2018

As the season progresses, more shows display their true colors.

 

Asobi Asobase
The normal Japanese ending to jan-ken-pon

Mean girls being mean to each other. Comic book artstyle, and the sort of humor that Republicans would like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord of Vermilion
Ruku, I am your father

Soon to be superheros find themselves trapped in Tokyo. Like Kekkai Sensen, but without the zany environment, well-rounded characters, or imaginative artwork.

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted Hot Springs
Nobody else can touch me, but I don’t mind if it’s you, Kogarashi san

Terribly generic bosom of the week. Cross between Kawaii Complex, Love Hina, and Invaders of the Rokujouma.

 

 

 

 

 

Chio’s School Road
Look mommy, blue and white stripes!

Each episode has two parts.

Part 1: all the strange adventures that happen on Chio’s way to school (the only adventure I ever had was when my trombone case fell of the basket of my bike).

Part 2: Mean girls being mean to each other. Like Asobi Asobase only with different artwork.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2018

July 20, 2018

I currently have 23 anime on my tentative watchlist — new for the summer, and second coeur holdovers — plus three or four rewatches. Obviously, my moe-meter can’t stand this level of watchery, and I’m going to have to drop some of them. Not that I wouldn’t drop these, even on a light schedule. Three harem, one angst, and one comedic failure, all eminently droppable.

How not to summon a demon lord

So, slavery isn’t bad if it’s cute girls and you’re in a culture that approves of such things and the enthralled ladies say they like you. It’s not like you’re keeping them in a home-made dungeon in your basement with your wife complaining about you spending all your time in the storage room, and besides, it’s high summer and too hot for me to go outside.

A wannabe Overlord, with no demonic minions and no castle. I’ve read parts of the light novel, and it’s actually better than the anime adaptation.

Master of Ragnarok
He’s about to propose to her

It’s great to be in another world, with your smartphone, where you can lord it over the ignorant savages and have busty ladies rub themselves all over you. Wait. That’s been done. Why are we doing it again? So we can have the ladies call you “big brother”?

Another one where the light novel was better than the anime adaptation. But not so good that I’d want to keep reading it.

Island

Yet another harem. Except it’s set in this world, not the next. All the girls look like they’re fifteen years old. Except for the one who looks like she’s eight. There’s amnesia, and strange diseases, and stranger prophecies.

Based on a galgame, which, thankfully, I haven’t had a chance or the inclination to play.

Planet With

Three-way plot, between amnesia-stricken boy raised by a maid and a monster cat, a group of seven superheros, and an invading force of aliens with a lose grip on the concept of spelling. The boy is mad at everybody. The superheros keep losing to the boy after beating the invaders. The invaders are never around long enough to say what they want. About the only thing going for it is the cool mecha designs. And we never learn what ‘with’ is. With fries?

Jashin-chan Dropkick

We end with one that wants to be Gabriel Dropout, only, you know, edgier, and with more cartoon violence. Sort of a Doga Kobo meets Looney Tunes. Bunch of demons in a six mat apartment, plus goth-loli human, and an angel who lost her halo and can’t go home without it.

Snake demon keeps trying to kill goth-lolli human, but keeps getting sliced and diced instead. Did you know snake tail goes good in hot pot? Did you care?

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2018

July 8, 2018

Summers are the weakest of the anime seasons, as if the creators were on an Okinawa beach, just phoning it in. This summer we start off with bloody psycho horror, bloody zombie horror, and pedophilia.

Angels of Death: Girl finds herself sitting on a chair in a strange building. Said building turns out to be a fun house of horror, with a different threat on each floor — bandaged guy with scythe, fake doctor who only wants her eyes, etc. You can look on it as something that is going on inside her head, or you can assume the building (complete with surveillance cameras and staff announcements tracking her location) is some sort of construct by some sort of rich psycho, or maybe a Japanese reality show gone wild. I suppose one could wait around to find out, but I had to go practice my –suru verbs.

Third floor: Lingerie, kitchenware, and eyeballs

Calamity of a Zombie Girl: Teenagers break into the library basement on a lark (because they’re teenagers, of course), find a couple of occupied caskets there (because that’s the kind of thing every school library keeps on hand), open them up and steal an amulet from one of them (because teens don’t watch old movies any more). The inevitable ensues.

with Toilet humor

To Be Heroine: Teased as kind of a sequel to To Be Hero. Sequel, as in, written by the same guy after the one he wrote first, but otherwise no relation. The production studio is Chinese, and the characters all speak Chinese (with Japanese subtitles) in the real world, and Japanese (no Chinese subtitles) in the isekai.*

To Be Hero was an eight-minute short, and was all toilet humor. Not poopy jokes, but real sucked-into-a-toilet-and-granted-superpowers stuff. To Be Heroine is a full length anime about a schoolgirl who is sucked into an alternate word, populated by 3-year olds wearing nothing but underwear, that tends to fall off. She’s the only one who wears clothing, and each bit of it summons a different servant to defeat the opponent’s servant. Said opponents being other 3-year olds wearing underwear plus one. If you are not afraid that the FBI will scan your hard drive some day, this is the show for you.

If the underwear falls off, I die!!

*Which is interesting, because all the Chinese films I’ve seen have been in Chinese, with Chinese subtitles.

Anime Preview Summer 2018

June 28, 2018

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 title and the cover art. By the way, you might notice that I’ve missed a couple of seasons. That’s due to chemo-chemicals entering my body. And this instalment is somewhat short. That’s due to the sucko season we have in front of us.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (Boku no Hero Academia 3), kids stuff (Marvel Future Avengers), movies and OVA’s, and anything with Card in the title.

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

1. Overlord III: A dentist’s nightmares

2. Hataraku Saibou: Asuka Langley’s delivery service

3. Asobi Asobase: three young girls on a scavenger hunt

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

1. Zoids Wild: Strange beasts and where to find them

2. Jashin-chan Dropkick: The Yokohama chain saw murders

3. Shichisei no Subaru: Young couple flee jellyfish woman in his new car

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

1. Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa: The horrors of modern business

2. Ongaku Shoujo: It’s amazing how far you can stretch one piece of cloth if you cut on the bias

3. Happy Sugar Life: A girl and her dakimakura

And then there’s an honorable mention.

Aguu: Tensai Ningyou: Just what does that title really mean?

Normally, if I want the English version of a title, I just copy/paste the romanji title into Google Translate, and copy/paste the answer into the text. That didn’t work here.

According to Google, Aguu: Tensai Ningyou means Aegu: Tenyo Enomyo. But that’s just more Japanese, and what’s up with that?. So, let’s translate Aegu: Tenyo Enomyo. Google says that means: Ophee: Tomonameyomo. This is getting silly — plus, it sound’s like Hawaiian. Let’s try it one more time. And your final English meaning is …. P: Oh no yea. I’m afraid to go any further.

My favorite anime mother

May 13, 2018

Kuramoto Nana

There are very few mothers in anime, and those that do appear are usually lacking in the normal motherly attributes. In most anime where parenting might be an issue, the parents are dead (Japanese cars are notoriously unsafe in that respect), or working overseas (possibly contributing to the drop in Japanese population). Many mothers who are both alive and present are professionals who we see briefly on their way to work in the first episode (one of the magical girl series), or briefly when well into the series (Monogatari). Others turn out to be behind-the-scenes contributors to the plot (Witchcraft Works).

The only normal mother I can think of is Kuramoto Nana, in The Flying Witch.

She runs the household, and does motherly things, and She also handles the occasional magical phenomenon with grace and aplomb. And just so we don’t think she’s a tradition-bound woman, she also is a professional artist and writer of children’s books. Maybe not rocket science professionalism, but pretty good for a farm wife in Aomori Prefecture.

 

Keeping hubby fed

“Mom, can I go out?”

“Mom, I want to make some tempura”

“What a cute witch”

Why yes, I am a professional

TLDR — Anime I am Fated not to finish

January 2, 2018

I’m one of those who watched Fate/Stay Night ten years ago, the first and worst of the Fate/ franchise. That inoculated me against all the follow-on products, until last year, when phrases like “critical acclaim” induced me to reconsider.

Episode 1 of Fate/Zero is an hour-long expository lump. I tried watching it, and got 14 minutes in before my gag reflex took over and I ran for the remote and a soothing dose of Chaos;Child, or maybe it was Code:Realize, or some other show with a special character insert.

Nothing daunted, I tried again in the New Year. This time I got 19 minutes in, and broke out in a rash. Fate/ and I are …. fated…. to be forever strangers.

It would be too boring to just stand in this big room and talk, so we’re going to walk around you in a big circle and talk. Synchronized swimming comes later.

Chrunchyroll gave me herpes – update

November 5, 2017

A update to the original.

Here, finally, is an official announcement. It’s on the Ellation website, not CR, and the only surface timestamp is 4 November. CR superuser asharka (not a sysadmin, just some guy) shows “datePublished”:2017-11-05T01:12:32.

The CR pointer to it doesn’t actually appear on the Forums home page, but it’s stickied to the top of the internal pages.

Crunchyroll gave me herpes

November 4, 2017

But I got over it.

Crunchyroll, the anime streaming service, just went through a DNS hijack attack, and I fell for it. If I’d been using Windows, likely I’d have been toast. Thanks, Linux.

So, late last night, the entire staff of this $100 million company with a million paid users, took the phone off the hook and went to bed.

After 9 hours solid, their German staff woke up to find that they had a problem

which they then passed along to the head office.

What was happening was that a DNS hijack was redirecting traffic to a server in Russia, which was downloading a malicious Windows .exe file. If you tried to sign in, you got a splash screen and an auto-download.

This is where I came in. I couldn’t get past that screen, but I figured it was just CR being CR, so I finally said screwt and let it download. I figured it would just save the .exe and I could go about my business. I told you I have Linux, not Windows, yes?

Well, I’d forgotten about how helpful Linux can be. No sooner had the DL started than WINE fired up to install it in its own separate sandbox. And about five seconds into that, WINE crashed. That’s not unusual, with weird software packages that don’t follow the standards. You know, the kind you’d get from outfits like CR, who took five tries to get their new Roku interface approved.

People have tried to install viruses under WINE before. What usually happens is the sandbox fills up and WINE aborts it. Here, it didn’t even get that far, which saved me a lot of trouble.

When I went back to the website, still clueless, I got their standard Site Down, we’re working on it screen

That went on for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, I bitched about it on Twitter

and got informed

Meanwhile, smarter people than I (not at CR) were working on what went wrong.

And what was the much-vaunted team of shinobi doing to keep their million paying users informed? They were retweeting other people’s postings

and showing two hours of pre-canned ads on what you should be watching.

Finally, they were back up, and gave us a typically uninformative all clear.

Meanwhile, this incident unleashed a storm of complaints on the forums, plus some interesting technical discussions of how badly broken CR security is. Yes, the login is encrypted,

but once you are past that, everything is in plaintext.

..and there’s a horde of other problems.

Crunchyroll is notoriously bad about keeping users informed. The most you get is a sorry about that, we’re back, tweet. I guess when you are a $100 million oligopolist brand of a wholly owned subsidiary (Ellation, very interesting, worth reading) of a holding company (Otter Media) of a media conglomerate (AT&T/Chernin Group), you don’t have to worry about these things.

It’s enough to make one switch to Anime Strike.

And there’s an update.

TLDR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2017, part 3

November 2, 2017

Sometimes anime are not bad, they just don’t hold my interest. Somewhere around mid-season I wander off and don’t come back. Herewith a few of those:

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life: Not bad, but I thought it had a reasonable closure at the end of the first cour, and couldn’t think of a reason to continue. I kept it in my queue for a while and then gave up on it.

Kino’s Journey: I watched much of the first season, back when, and had the same opinion: the show has a little too high of an opinion of itself. It’s like one of those artsey foreign movies you watched back in college. Pretentious.

Blend-S: A one-trick pony, and that one not very interesting

Code:Realize: What did I tell you about anime with Code: in their names? Just couldn’t get interested in cute guys doing cute things with steampunk. Must be my finger-length.

And then there’s a couple of others that are not new this season but which I tried because various reviewers seemed to like them. Various reviewers are apparently not within three standard deviations of my demographic.

Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Girls in a middle-school Hero’s club become actual magical girl heroes and protect the Earth while passing all their tests. Importance of ともだちがい and がんばって and clap if you believe in かみさまs.

Tenchi Muyo: AKA 天地無用, which can be variously translated as No Need for Tenchi, or this side up, depending on context. Since most of the episodes are titled No need for xxx, that’s probably the preferred reading. Tenchi is a typical ultra-dense protagonist who manages to have a bevy of beautiful space aliens fall in love with him.

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.

 

 

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.