Winter 2019 Anime Review

I enjoy how as each season passes I have less and less enthusiasm to write in anything approximating a reasonable timeframe.

As seems to be a recurring theme, a fair chunk of shows in this season had interesting premises or ideas but then ended up kind of dissappointing. So consistently so that it’s not really worth dividing up good/bad among the things I did watch.

So in (mostly) alphabetical order here’s the anime I watched in Winter 2019:

Domestic no Kanajo– this show started off interesting. Gave a bit of a Scums Wish vibe with the teacher and student relations. Domestic na KanojoAlso the unexpected sexual relations in episode 1 were quite an intriguing twist. But the show just didn’t live up to those initial expectations. It particularly irked me that the boy kept calling the teacher ‘Sensei’ while flirting/hooking up and this didn’t cause the woman to be constantly reminded about how she was a teacher fucking her student. And that was a huge breach of professional conduct. Was really implausible and inconsistent how well she accepted that and didn’t seem to care about the obvious professional risks (and moral ones too I guess). Even just having the kid call her by her surname would be a massive improvement as it would mean they stopped whacking us in the face with it. Also the way they, inevitably, get busted is stupid. In on episode they “hide” by crouching down in a fuck off huge hallway at the school that is 80% windows outside. But that works out fine. Meanwhile they later fuck in a hotel room on the 10th storey of a building and somehow the school photographer takes a photo of a bonfire dance outside that somehow clearly catches them. 6/10

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue– again this show started off pretty good. Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. Despite being thoroughly over the overused trope of an MC being a shut in mangaka with no social skills (Barakamon did this best, stop trying to capture lightning in a bottle again) this show had the fantastic twist of dedicating half the episode to being from the perspective of a tsundere cat. Which the MC adopts. Hence his “roommate is a cat” and the show started off quite great. But Episode 3 was an early stumbling block where it had a random supernatural element related to the MCs dead parents spirits being chased around by the cat. Then as episodes progressed they clearly ran out of ideas of what could be said/done through the cats perspective so we got higher and higher proportions of each episode on the stupid MC. And the eclectic cast of tropes who he ran interacted with. Only interesting one was the pet store lady (and I guess her younger brother) but she was in like 3 or 4 episodes. Fun premise but you’re probably better off watching Barakamon and Chi’s Sweet Home. 6/10

Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan– am very late to the party on this. Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no GohanWas a monthly short by ufotbale with the Fate/Stay characters going on low key cooking adventures. Slow paced slice of life. I’m not much of a cook so the chunks of run time dedicated to explaining recipes were a bit much (I assume they were accurate recipes) but I guess it was nice seeing where these characters from a mid-2000s choose your own adventure porno have ended up. A good show to chuck on before going to bed because if you fall asleep you won’t really miss anything. 5/10

Fate/Stay Heavens Feel II- Lost Butterfly– speaking of “choose your own adventure porno from the mid-2000s”, I saw the second Heavens Feel movie in cinema a few weeks back. Further cementing Sakura as the best girl in my mind (although I expect if I rewatched UBW I’d prefer Rin). Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven's Feel - II. Lost ButterflyThe art and animation was fucking beautiful in this, with some absolutely gorgeous fight scenes between various Servants. Also some high tension scenes where characters confronted others- in particularly I liked Gilgamesh confronting Sakura in a dark alleyway at night time. Was less of a fan of the scene where Sakura and Shiro finally have sex. Two reasons- firstly the dialogue was the cringewothy garbage that… well… reminds you this was the third/secret route of a choose your own adventure porno written nearly decades ago. It was very bad. Equally bad was how much a of a cock tease the scene was- so often Sakura’a tits were nearly on screen but the nipples always managed ot just be out of shot or obscured. Fuck that. If you’re keeping the fucking dialogue, at least show me the insane ‘big tiddys’ of this hot anime girl on the big screen. I want a canon image for what Sakura looks like topless. In beautiful ultra 4k HD or whatever resolution cinemas play. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the movie. It did suffer a bit being the middle of a trilogy. Also I’ve become psychologically used to anime movies I see in cinema being fucking masterpieces (Your Name, Silent Voice, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas) or popular trash (DBZ movies, Yugioh Movies, that SAO movie). This movie was weirdly neither- it was towards the masterpiece end in terms of production quality and those fight scenes but it was still nowhere near the typical level of an anime movie that breaks into a western release. Will probably revisit it and the first one in a marathon before going to see the third one… if I remember. So uhh… 7/10?

Endro– I really dunno what I expected with this one. Endro~!It gave me Yuru Camp vibes (the MC is basically the same person) in a fantasy setting. And I suppose that’s what I got. But the characters were all pretty one dimensional, the Princess shit me off and the ultimate direction the plot went it was really unsatifying. I technically watched this until the end but I definitely watched the last bunch of episodes in a marathon while working on some other stuff at the same time (and given I don’t speak Japanese, that shows how much I needed to pay attention to follow what was happening). I guess it’s a fine show to pass the time. 6/10

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai– this show was fantastic. The premise sounded like absolute garbage when I read it so it was a breath of fresh air that this turned out so fun. That occasional victory makes slogging through so many bad/disappointing shows worth it… although those rare victories are what keeps the optimism that makes me slog through so much garbage barely alive. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai ZunousenThe dynamic between the three main characters was fantastic, with the occasional extra of the Treasurer being a great add on. One of my friends informs me that in the source material the Treasurer is more involved earlier on. But I think the well-crafted gag in early episodes of pictures/memories of activities having a fourth person blurred out that the other three are clearly forgetting about makes the tweak worthwhile. Towards the end of the series it did have a few burrs- like the stupid ‘Kaguya becomes a child when she is ill’ which was perhaps a step too far beyond suspension of disbelief. Also the final episode left me with a bit of a bland aftertaste as it seemed that after all the activities we’d seen, including the requisite big emotional arc in the final clump of episodes, the two love interest characters were somehow not in any different position than how things had begun. In fact none of the characters really developed or changed. My friend I mentioned earlier disagrees with that statement but I think he’s confusing us learning more about the characters as stuff happened with the characters changing in response to that stuff happening. And I do acknowledge that in this sort of slice of life comedy show you typically don’t get huge character development. But even half a step in… well… any direction would have been great. All that being said, still an overall fantastic show. 8/10

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru– this show may technically have been part of last season given it ran for a weird amount of 23 episodes. But it was fantastic. All sport anime are either fantastic emotional roller coasters or bland mediocrity and this definitely fell into the former category. The fact that it developed all ten of the runners; plus some supporting characters and rivals AND their various, changing relationships was so good. Kaze ga Tsuyoku FuiteiruThe art and animation were also pretty top notch… the CGI less so. But most impressive was how well it paced the overall story- the team forming arc (where each person was made to buy into the concept), the training/qualification arc (where everyone had to encounter and overcome a personal difficulty within the sport or external to the sport) and the final race itself (plus a small little post-race tease) were balanced perfectly. Nothing ran too long with padding or repeat concepts and nothing felt rushed. If anything, half an episode extra seeing the post-race stuff is all I’d want but ending where it did was perfect emotionally. And the emotional punch in that final stretch of the last leg where the two MCs have both an incredibly touching moment followed by a horrific heartbreak (unnoticed by anyone else) was… well… a roller coaster. This is up with Haikyuu as top 2 sports anime I’ve seen (sorry Kuroko!). Also it hit a bit of a personal note with the ‘making people buy into a cause and helping them push past what they thought their limits were’ stuff. Have done that in a few projects in the past and it is an immensely fun/satisfying thing to do. 9/10

Kemurikusa– this was a very weird one. I never got into Kemono Friends but I knew the creator has the capacity to do something weird and special with his work.Kemurikusa (TV) So I stuck with this even though I probably shouldn’t. It was an interesting world and aside from Wakaba the characters all had their charm. Was quite surprised with what happened with various characters as the finale started to kick into gear. The rapid development of the lore towards the end was both welcome as it explained what was happening but also unsatisfying as it didn’t really explain why the fuck what was happening was happening. The art style and animation were… interesting? Inconsistent? The best of times and the worst of times? I can only assume we’ll get a soulless S2 in a year or two that does a weird semi-reboot and makes things more confusing in terms of the lore. 6/10

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken– this started so well and then ended terribly. Actually I dunno if it started well. The premise seemed ideal for a 2 minute short, gag comedy anime rather than a serious action isekai. I figured the joke would wear off pretty soon and it did… hence they basically made the MC slime functionally a normal, if OP, human very quickly. Tensei shitara Slime Datta KenThat being said the Orc Lord arc was pretty good. And the bit before it about building a village and going to the Dwarf Kingdom were fine. Nothing special… except for Dwarves being human sized and looking just like normal men. But after the Orc Lord things went off the rails. The concept of the next bit with the Demon Lords gaining interest and Milim kicking about and the Charybdis (dunno how it was spelt) but what should have been a 12-13 episode second arc was a rushed 4 episode arc. Letting is then get in a stupid arc where the OP MC goes and teaches at a school to he can raise some troubled orphans. And then we get a side-story from the perspective of a character who died… and then we get a recap for the final episode… what the fuck. There were apparently heaps of story tweaks and changes from the source material. From what has been explained to me by people who have read it, none of them were necessarily bad changes. They just streamlined content and cut out pointless busy work. Like in the orphan child arc the MC has to find a place. In the anime the servant of a business partner knows where it is. In the original it’s some other mini-quest to find the information. Whatever. The issue was that in cutting out the pointless busywork they decided to rapidly accelerate the pace of interesting story content to squeeze in stupid story content. Very disappointing. 6/10

Tsurune– this show was fucking fantastic. I do archery myself and have dabbled in Kyudo so seeing the sport presented in such a compelling anime was fantastic. Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou KyuudoubuThe only issue I have with this show was that we didn’t see more of the girls- because I agree with the characters in the show that kyudo gear looks fucking hot. I really appreciated the depth to which the show focused on getting over the ‘hurdle’, especially when coming back from a failure, which is something I think is applicable to all sports (and probably most things people put effort into). Actually the more I think about this show the more uncertain as to whether Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru or this make up the top 2 with Haikyuu. Maybe the silly plot point of the archery coach getting in a car accident on the day of the tournament knocks this one down into spot three. 9/10

Yakusoku no Neverland– somehow I knew about this… franchise? Concept?… about 12 months ago and even then the premise didn’t super excite me. Yakusoku no NeverlandDunno why. It was very good. I think maybe it reminds me too much of the mid-2000s TV series Prison Break which was pretty good to start with but then rapidly jumped the shark once they actually broke out of prison. Also children annoy the shit out of me so the setting having them all be under the age of 12 was not appealing. But I was proven wrong- the art and animation worked really well, the characters were compelling and the plot had some very unexpected twists. Particularly in the last few episodes when… well… the plan starts having changes in it. There was a character trait in Emma that popped up towards the end that I didn’t quite buy and a fantastically unexpected detail about Ray. And Norman… wow… I was shocked how he played things out. Although I suspect the inevitable S2 will remove the emotional impact of his action. 8.5/10

Also here’s some thoughts on shows I started watching in Winter 2019 but didn’t finish for one reason or another:

Boogiepop wa Warawanai- this show had a weird number of episodes (~18 or so), a very confusing release schedule (due to the weird number of episodes) and a non-linear plot. And it’s also releated to a show from the early-2000s. Unsure if it’s a reboot or a sequel. Didn’t care enough to look. I’m assured that it is very good those who watch it and are into this sort of thing- sort of occult, sort of sci-fi, things only make sense on a rewatch when you have all the info and can piece it together. Is on the list of “things to go back to during a boring anime season. One day. Maybe”

Egao no Daika- I dunno why I though this would be interesting. All this show demonstrated was why you don’t put 12 year old children in charge of the military. Because they will do dumb shit and you will lose. Also it was (I assume) an accidental experiment in “trying to make both sides of the war emphathetic to show shades of grey even though one side is demonstrably an unprovoked aggressor doing evil shit to its citizens and the good guys”. Unsurprisingly the experiment found that it’s not possible to make a good storyline that way.

Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen- I think Madoka is fantastic for what it did with the Magical Girl Genre. I also think Magical Girl Raising Project is a fantastic extension on top of what Madoka laid. And given Madoka dealt with “Magical girls finding out shit is fucked” while Raising Project dealt with “Magical Girls surving through shit that is fucked” I hoped this show would delver on the third part of that concept with “Magical Girls dealing with PTSD having got theough the fucked shit”. Unfortunately it dropped that concept pretty much strgaight away and become a poorly animated, boring artsyle generic magical girls fighting each other and other things show.

Mob Psycho 100 S2- I’m still working my way through this. S1 didn’t grab me as much as it did everyone else but I enjoyed it enough. Same thing here. I’m assured that the second half is fantastic so I am currently watching it. And all signs are suggesting it could be fantastic. And if not it’s solid for bingeing while doing other stuff

Dororo- dunno about this. Nothing about it sticks out as bad. Or good. But it’s very different. The art and animation feel off but I can’t tell if I like that or hate it. The biggest draw is the world and the concept for the main plot. The biggest turn off is that the interesting character is mute (at least for the episodes I saw) and most of the dialogue comes from a stupid shit of a child. Another one that I’m assured is worth watching but unless I’m desperate I suspect I won’t get to it.

And some quickfire comments on some of the garbage that was put out by Japan in this three month period:

Dimension High School- interesting concept mixing j-drama and anime. The problem was that the show centred around solving Japanese word puzzles. With literal count down timers for the characters and audience to solve the puzzles. And if you aren’t fluent in reading, writing and speaking Japanese you just spend several minutes looking at still images of word puzzles watching a clock tick down. Absolute waste of an interesting idea.

W’z- WHO THE FUCK ASKED FOR A SEQUEL TO HANDSHAKERS? AND WHO THE FUCK WAS DUMB ENOUGH TO GREENLIGHT AND FUND IT?! FUCK YOU.

Ueno-san wa Bukiyou- I love Science. I don’t love weird attempted sexual harassment and assault in the name of science. Even having a girl doing it to a boy coz she’s fond of him doesn’t make it bearable

Mini Toji- a short based on… Katana no Toji(?) from several seasons back. I duno why I bothered watching it given I struggled to finish that show. I think it was a sequel spin off but who the fuck cares.

Rinshi!! Ekoda Chan- now this is a fantastic concept. Rather than the navel gazing garbage we get typically of “anime set in weeb industry X” (e.g. manga, gaming, anime itself…) this was a 3-5 minute anime short followed by a 20 minute interview with the staff (the director and VA on the episodes I saw) about the process of making anime. If this was an industry you were interested in working in, excellent viewing! Unfortunately that’d not me. Also in one of the first two eps (forget which) there was some really awkward viewing where the old, male director was correcting the young, female VA on what the character (a young, female) would feel on a topic. And the VA just had to sit there with the awkward “this old geezer is so wrong and misguided but if I say anything my career is fucked” smile on her face. A fantastic idea fucked in execution.

Manaria Friends- somehow a yuri show set in a fantasy school wasn’t good. The opposite of a miracle.

Virtual-san wa Miteiru- like Pop Team Epic but worse. In this one the unconnected and not-funny sketches are all riffing of the personas of artificial Japanese YouTube… “characters”. Like Hatune Miku but instead of bad to medicore songs, they are bad to bad YouTube personalities. With literally no story/plot or compent CG as far as I could tell.

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikotai- had pretty accurate WWII era dogfight style plane battles. Which meant they went too long. Also the CG and character models in the non-battle parts was terrible. Find a screencap of the girls standing around in the bar, look how big their hats and and judge the size of their heads to the rest of their bodies. It’s fucked

Girly Air Force- a boy has to seduce and fuck an idiot and/or tsundere airplane to help fight off mysterious alien spaceships/planes. Or something. A plot point of the early episodes is this random refugee getting into (maybe sneaking into) a Japanese Self Defence Force base via his bicycle. The same base with the only line of defence against mysterious aliens has very poor security. Or something… again the details from 3 months ago are hazy. In any event, it was not good.

Grimms Notes- haha isn’t is so funny that the male character transforms into a girl?! And they gallivant through a bunch of classic fairy tales while bantering with various character tropes. Comedy gold! Just read the Grimm Fairytales directly rather than this weird homage adaption.

Bermude Triangle- Colorful Pastrale- How is Cardfight Vanguard still popular enough to warrant this spin off anime about (I believe) one of the card sets? When was it ever popular enough to warrant that? In any event, obviously not popular enough to pay for any decent writer, artists or animators. Can’t remember if the VAs were good. But 4 minutes of this was absolutely horrific to watch.

Pastel Memories- this is the self-aggrandising, navel gazing shit that is a cancer on anime/Japanese popculture. Is about a maid café having to save Japan by making it remember anime/manga that has been mysteriously forgotten. One of the girls looks like a character from Monogatari series. Which is the closest thing to a good ting I can so… although it just reminds you about a far, far better show. This combines the poor book based content of Grimm Notes with the shit storyline of “Plastic Memories”. In the sense that Plastic Memories also had both a shit storyline and the word “Memories” in it’s title. Good stuff

Watashi no Tenshi ga Maiorita!- Female. Paedophiles. Are. Still. Paedophiles. And. Are. Still. Fucked. Up. For. Fuck. Sakes. Japan. Don’t. Encourage. This. Shit.

Ame-iro Cocoa- Side G- a centre swapped side story (‘side’ is literally in the same) about a coffee shop in what I assume is a franchise about coffee shops. All boys. Whatever. Slice of life with uninteresting characters. If you have no forward plot you need fantastic characters. Just having pretty characters isn’t enough. But I guess if you’ve watched the 4-20 previous seasons in the franchise (no clue how many there are. Whatever the number is, it’s too many) you’ll probably like it.

Meji Tokyo Renka- a time travelling reverse harem. If you like historically inaccurate hot boys vaguely seducing a blank slate who probably has some sort of special powers (didn’t watch more than half an episode); this is the one for you!

Extra- Christmas and New Year Backlog!

Because I have the pleasure of living interstate from all my family, I am in the incredibly lucky siutation that I can do whatever I want during the Christmas+New Year holiday/”shut down” period. And because I spend 50 weeks of the year working like a madman, this year I decided to spend it doing as little as possible and watching anime. Notably, I decided to test out the AnimeLab platform. Which is fine as far as streaming platforms go. If you want “legit access” to anime I’d put it above crunchyroll.

Anyway I watched/rewatched a bunch of fantastic shows and have some thoughts about them. Some more than others:

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu

This show is fantastic. Even a decade later. Actually this is my main critiscm of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsuthe AnimeLab platform- the episodes can only be done in chronological order. Well, you could manualy watch them in a different order I guess. But watching them in not broadcast order loses some of the magic. Although I think I prefer the DVD order- starting with the Mikuru “movie” episode is such a great way to begin the show and then have stuff backfilled in as you go through the episodes in broadcast order. Also the OPs and EDs are done by broadcast order so they keep randomly changing across the 28 episodes. The plot and characters are great and have been talked to death so I won’t go into that here, instead I’ll touch on a couple other things of note.

Firstly, Endless Eight was far better than I remembered. I’d alwasy jokingly defended it when people complained but now I leigtmiately think it is a fantastic piece of art. The sheer volume of changes that they make to each epsiode without chnaging anything is amazing- the clothes people where, the locations people go to, the places people sit or stand when talking, the orientation of the printed menu in a cafe. It’s fucking crazy. In hindsight I suspect the backlash and (probable) sales drop due to endless eight is what killed the series. But if there’d been a season 3 or even if S2 had been a full 2 cour rather than 14 new eps mixed amongst the original 14 eps it wouldn’t have been so bad. And we would have gotten more seasons to finish the series. Which would have been great.

Secondly, I was shocked by how many episodes were centred on the School Festival. By my count there were 8 episodes related to the School Festival directly and two other referred to it. Which is like… 30-35% of the total. In a modern anime a School Festival would be done in a single episode and then they’d be off to the next thing. By having so much focus on a single event there was such a deeper story to it. Plus there were HEAPS of eatser eggs in the backgrounds of shots as characters did stuff that you saw in detail in prior or subsequent episodes. Case in point was when Kyon was wandering around the School Fetsival you saw Haruhi setting up the impromptu band performance. Such exquisite attention to detail showed a level of care and love and dedication to the show. I really wish there had been more.

Other small details littered across practically every episode like Haruhi’s changing hairstyle (to ponytail, away from ponytail etc), the Mikuru photo folder on the computer desktop, the costumes and shit in the background of the club room… such a well crafted show in the little details.  Many of which you don’t catch if you watch in it broadcast order becuase they are referencing future episodes!

The art and animation also looked great even though AnimeLab locked it at 480p unless I gave them money.

It wasn’t all rosy though- the tension in the scene when Haruhi tried to set up and film Mikuru being sexually assaulted was incredible. I knew it was coming and how it was resolved (not super well through a modern eye) but even so I was gripping the edge of my seat. Incredibly well drawn, animated and performed.

Also whenever Mikuru was brought to tears at any point in the series it broke my fucking heart.

Another incredibly well done scene was the one where Haruhi was doing casting for the movie and happened to nail everyone’s secret roles. The progressive breaking of Koizumi by Haruhi was so good.

So weird realising that the finale (ep28) takes place like six months after episode 1.

Also wasn’t a big fan of the finale. There was a big drop in quality, epseiclaly with the weird Nakano reading a book in a still room for extended periods of time.

That being said, it is still an incredibly and highly recommendable show. Not only was it incredibly pivotal for anime when it was released it easily holds up. It is still far better than the vast majority of shows being made today.

Lucky Star

I tried to watch this show years ago and just didn’t get it. So for ages I thought Lucky☆StarI’d just missed the boat. And I suspect I somewhat have- it’s such a meta/referential show that I probably didn’t catch anything. But I was pleased to find I was very, very wrong about having missed my chance.

In particular, watching it striaght after Haruhi was a brilliant stroke of luck. To anyone who is familiar with both shows the connection is pretty self-evident. They are both by Kyoto Animation and Lucky Star was their next/immediate follow up to Haruhi. Which means that a significant amount of Lucky Star’s content and meta commentary revolves around Haruhi (and it’s impact on anime/nerd culture at the time).

One of the Lucky Star characters has a Haruhi song as their phone ringtone. One of them puts together a dance routine and comments that they need to make the next Hare Hare dance (the dance from Haruhi). In one episode there are people cosplayer as characters from Haruhi. My favourite was when the anime nerd character Konata “watches” the Haruhi finale and makes many of the same observations I made about it being a weird tonal chnage and drop in quality, makes the same speculations I did and then goes onto online forums to see the nerds already in a flame war over it minutes after it aired. Which I can only presume is what actually happened. Another great one is when the group goes bowling and all their names are Haruhi characters… and the scores match up (the person as Haruhi is doing fantastic, Nagato and Koizomi are just behind, Kyon is average, Mikuru is absolutely terrible).

Again, some incredible attention to detail showing incredible love/passion with the project. And honestly I would have missed it entirely if I hadn’t coincidentally decided to watch Lukcy Star after my Haruhi rewatch. So I 100% recommend anyone who is intereste din Lucky Star do the same thing.

It is also kind of weird how well the art and animation holds up. The character/shows design and style is so different to what modern shows do and for whatever reason that style from the mid-2000s just doesn’t date as badly as the style from the mid-2010s. I didn’t realise how old this show was until I looked it up, thats how good it still looks today.

The characters themselves are the emodiment of tropes but it’s done as a parody more than as a shortcut for character development. And the way they meta-commentate through those tropes is fantastic. Which makes it hard to pick when someone should watch this series in their life as an anime fan- you need to have enough of an understanding of anime and the culture to get it… but if you leave it too late then you risk having it’s perfection undercut by things that have copied bits and pieces of it since.

Also for an odd/crass observation, the physical shape of the “well endowed” Miyuki compared to more modern characters (such as Chi from Devil is a Part Timer) is well… noticeably less exaggerated. Really makes you wonder about the people making and consuming this product…

But yes, this show is a classic cute girls doing cute things slice of life and was the perfect antidote to the typical ‘I can’t believe it’s over feeling’ I was getting for Haruhi. Damn KyoAni are a fantastic studio.

…I feel I should praise the show more for being it and not being related to Haruhi but whatever.

Devil is a Part Timer

Continuing my comedy streak of watching/rewatching things, I rewatched Hataraku Maou-sama!Devil is a Part Timer. I didn’t take as many notes for this one as the previous two shows (actually I took none) because it is a much more recent show and thus I was less shocked at how good it still was.

This is another fantastic show. The only bad thing is that there isn’t a second season over half a decade later. Is defintiely a world and a set of characters I want to see more of. Particualrly given how the final episode is kind of shit- the big climax is done in the second last episode, making the final feel like a random OVA with the kind of content you’d expect around epsidoe 7-8 in a one cour series.

Also Chiho’s body proportions are absolutely ridiculous, even without considering her age. Goddamn Japan.

I particurly like the dynamic between Maou and Alciel as the show progresses. The way Alciel frames him and Maou (and Emilia) as construction workers when trying to explain their situation to a random human friend of Emilia’s was a particularly fun scene. Really showed the strength of their friendship and relationship.

Emilia got a bit tiresome with her stalker behaviour towards Maou and I’m annoyed the romantic subplots of both Maou-Emilia and Maou-Chiho existed. Only one was neccessary and I think it would have been better having Emilia come to understand Maou through him having strong relationships with other humans rather than herself. There could be arguments made that him befriending her could be preceived as having evil ulterior motives, but him being nice and supporting random humans was the perfect way to show Emilia wasn’t on the right side of a simple good vs evil war.

But yeah, a great show! Highly recommend!

No Game No Life

Switching things up I went next for an action-comedy sort of show. The main No Game No Lifething I remembered about this was that the art and animation were eye wateringly beautiful. And they are.

I didn’t remember how much incest stuff there was. I knew it was particulary heavy at the start but damn it is very heavy. It lessens and becomes more comedic (…somehow) as the series progresses but it is still a legitimate barrier to making this a recommendabe show.

The highlight is easily when Sora/Shiro and Jibril play Shiritori. It does such a fantastic job showing how the protaginsts think and perceive the world… and how everyone else is overconfident and underestimates them. Plus it is super funny and quite meta in dealing with censorship.

That being said, the final arc of the show is also pretty fun. The series as a whole is pretty great.

My only other observation is that it really drove home how much I didn’t care/want the prequel movie. I want to see another season of them beating the other races in progressibley more ridiculous games. Building up the war thousands of years earlier and finding a convoluted way to set up this ‘war free, game based dispute resolution’ world was just… well… convoluted and unnecessary.

D-Frag

I loved this show the first time around but struggled to get through the first ep on this rewatch. Dunno why. Maybe I’d just watched too many comedies in a row?

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!

I feel a bit mixed on this show. Something about it has put me off it for literally years and I was really reluctant to watch it despite many friends recommendations. Unsure what or why though, I’ve just always had an odd feeling about it.

But I decided to give it a shot. I’m not sure if it grabbed me immediately but the middle chunk of S1 had me absolutely hooked. I found myself really relating to the stupid made up fantastical scenarios I had a kid (personally, many revolved around Dragon Ball Z stuff) and then trying to bury that shit when I got to highschool and it was no longer acceptable/cool to play ‘make believe’ any more. I also liked the different ways Togashi and Nibutani tried to solve their similair problems. When Nibutani started having weird interest in Togashi I knew something was up but it defienitely wasn’t what I expected

While some of the characters (in particular Dekomori) were a bit over the top in some ways, they also felt very realistic in others. And the way they came about getting together in their group and then interacted was great. Even the less prominent characters had developed and relatable subplot- like Isshiki’s attempt to get girls backfiring over the course of several episodes.

What derailed the fun train for me was the end arc. And the way that it kind of concluded, as I interpreted it, that not growing up and having all these fantasy delusions about reality is an ok thing because/if it’s being used to “deal” with an emotional tradegy e.g. death of a parent. Even though the character in question actively wasn’t dealing with stuff. It seemed such a poor way to conclude the overal arc and the romantic plot of the series. And the real world message was kind of fucked.

Unsure if I’ll watch S2. One day perhaps but I’ve got a bit of a yuck feeling from the direction S1 decided to go in.

Also random shout out to the fact the main guy’s dad works in Jakarta. What a random place to pick and a refreshing change from ‘somewhere vaguely in Europe or the USA’.

Survivor: David vs Goliath+Palau+Guatemala

An odd inclusion here given I typically talk mostly about anime. But over the Summer I finished Survior S37- David vs Goliath and also watched the entirely of S10- Palau and S11- Guatemala. I’m slowly working my way through the older seasons after getting hooked in the early 30s by a friend. And it’s been good/weird to compare and contrast the modern game with how it originally played out.

It’s also been bad because it’s kind of ruined the modern game. When my friend got me hooked in S32- Kaoh Rong I really enjoyed a couple seasons. But as I started watching the older ones, I realised how much more interesting and exciting those early seasons are.

Those first ten seasons comprise a fairly defineable era of the show- in Guatemala the hidden immunity idol is introduced and it’s downhill from there as it switched from a balanced social game to a strategy heavy game. In the newer seasons, basicllay every episode is dominated by strategy talk of different groups of people trying to form and split majoirty voting blocs to account for one of the four thousand idols or advantages introduced into the game over 30 plus seasons. Whereas in the earlier seasons you saw people having to actually survive and compete and manipulate each other without it backfiring. So much more intriguing and satisfying. Nowadays it seems to all be episodic big moves and very little character or story development.

That all being said, while I love the early seasons (with the notable exception of S8- All Stars which is a steaming pile of heartbreaking garbage), I can already see the wheels falling off in Guatemala as the production/editing switches focus to try and trick the viewer into thinking there is a coin flip decision between two options when really something entirely different is happening on the island.

That being said, David vs Goliath was a pretty fantastic season. I’d say maybe low top ten, probably early teens in terms of season rankings. I got a bit over the Natalie drama and think it was emphasised too much in the ealry season but otherwise the show had a fantastic build up to the double episode. Peaking with the 5+ hour endurance challenge between Christian and Alec that resulted in the David’s finally wresting control from the Goliaths. After a series of fantastic plays including vote steals, idol nullifcation (a new twist) and even splitting a minoirty vote (a survivor first). But then the David’s shot themselves in the foot and gave control back to the Goliaths. It was kind of impressive how the Goliath tribe effectively didn’t break their alliance the entire game. But it made for an increddbly boring endgame- there was really only one possible winner who would be good (who did win) and it was just a question of whether he’d have an immunity run to make it or be voted out and have someone less deserving sneak into the winning spot.

(Which as an aside is what happened in Aus Survivor Champions vs Contenders- the Final Two was a person who quit a bunch of challenges and got carried to the end and a person who should have been voted out but was saved by production with an incredibly suspicous hidden immunity idol find. A dissapointing end to an otherwsie great season. Also both Final Two were super rich which made it hard to want either to win the money)

Fortunately that person did win and it was a pretty satisfying end. And one where it was both hard to see who would win, but the finalists all (quite unusually for a modern season) had been present in the show and storylines since the first episode.

In stark contrast to Guatemala where the ultimate winner was basically absent from the show until the halfway point. Which is actually pretty typical for modern survivor and I was suprised to see this issue emerge so early. When all the people you are introdcuced to in ealry episodes get booted form the show, it’s hard to enjoy the back end of the show and like the winner because the people you like don’t win. And you’ve already had the satsifaction of the people you don’t like losing. Guatemala in particular had a pointless first four(ish) episodes because there was a super convoluted tribe swap which broke everything (in terms of alliances and relationships) and made it super hard to follow who was with who and doing what. After that point though it had a fantastic stretch of episodes (although the extended parts where everyone was off by themselves in the forest looking for the first Hidden Immunity Idol were an ominous foreshadowing of what was to come) that then petered out as the interesting characters were clearly painted into a box of “too much backstabbing to get jury votes” and a semi-random person ultimately won.

Palau was a fun season. The winner did a pretty good job of being a dominant force throughout the whole season. Played pretty close to a perfect game from episode 1 all the way to the finale. Was also really weird seeing one tribe be literally destroyed via immunity challenge losses. With the last member being sent over the merge with the other tribe. In a modern season that would never happen as they’d do a tribe swap or some other thing. The utter domination by one tribe made it incredibly compelling viewing through the start of the season. The high stakes drama of the final episodes as the dominant alliance came apart (led in part by a series of super dumb decisions by Ian) led to a fantastic Final Immunity Challange. And a brutal Final Tribal. An absolute corker of a season!

Sometime in the future I’ll probably do a write up about my Survivor thoughts. From what I’ve seen so far I’ve noticed a fairly horrifying trend in male vs female winners which does not speak well to how people judge winners in the game.

 

TV & Movie recap-May/June 2018

Here’s some random things that I’ve watched over recent months and some thoughts.

Also should have a few event reviews in the next couple months if things go well!

Movies

Solo: A Star Wars Story- An unexpectedly fun movie. After the various issues with basically every other Star Wars movie in the Disney Era, particularly the Last Jedi, and with all the production problems with Solo (and just the fact that this movie was not necessary) I had super low expectations. But it was a really fun movie. I really liked the unexpected ways they fleshed out bits and pieces of the Han Solo mythos and while there were problems with other bits; the only major change i would make is switching out a character reveal near the end from being *character* to being maybe Thrawn.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom- not very good. Wasn’t a big fan of Jurassic World but it was fine. This one… not so much. The plot armour and plot conveniences were a bit much. In one scene a dinosaur escapes though dumb circumstances (what a surprise) and ends up in a position where it could just run out into a forest chasing fleeing humans. instead it climbs on top of a mansion and then hangs upside down from the room to open a door on a balcony that happens to be the exact right room to find the main child character. Also a big decision happens at the end of the movie that undoubtedly results in the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people, if not more, for effectively no reason…

Oceans 8- love a good heist movie. While perhaps not as good as my nostalgic memories of the Oceans Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen movies, this was a fun ride. Also Anne Hathaway is a gorgeous human being. And the world of fashion is fucking terrifying.

Deadpool 2- it was fine. More of the same of the first with a few other one liner style jokes through out it. The commentary calling out the sexism of the X-Men via the formation of X-Force was pretty funny. Perhaps a bit forgettable, but I’d say the first one was too.

Avengers Infinity War: was fine. A solid 6/10 like basically every other Marvel movie. Jumped around a bit too much (relying on prior knowledge to fill in the gaps) and the villains henchmen army had real inconsistent levels of strength (I don’t care how powerful Wakanda tech is, regular people fighting them in hand-to-hand combat should have been massacred given the superheroes were barely holding their own). Also they chose the people to kill at the end poorly; too many of them are too essentially to and/or confirmed for future movies that they clearly aren’t permanently dead. my money is on Gamora being one of the few who doesn’t come back.

TV

Games of Thrones S2- continuing to follow along with Arya Talking to Me, smashed through S2 of Game of Thrones. While I enjoyed bits and pieces and particular scenes, most of this was me going “Oh I remember this in the book. And how this character dies and this entire plot line is irrelevant” *cough cough* Renly, Robb *cough cough*. The improving budget was good though. And the Battle of Blackwater episodes was extremely well made.

Bachelor in Paradise AU- was not a fan by the end of the season. Like the game mechanic was a bit fuzzy and there wasn’t a satifying “end point” for the show or its storylines. Seemed to just be really random and not planned out.

Survivor US Season 36- was a solid season in the end but some of the editing seemed to really show the hand of production; with a focus on these “big plays”, especially with idols, with a lot of implications of important stuff happening on the island affecting long term decisions being cut from the broadcast to hype up that weeks episode. The Final Council was particularly bad with some Jury members seeming to have literally no contribution.

Love Island AU- fuck this show is pure garbage. it is apparently a game show but I have no idea how anyone “wins”. At least Bachelor has the veneer of legitimacy in it’s “looking for love” thing and active activities. This is just people sitting around a bit villa with nothing happening at all.

Avatar The Last Airbender- after being disappointed by Legend of Korra, was hesitant to rewatch this show. Season 1 was a bit wobbly and I fast forwarded it through several parts. Season 2 was excellent, especially when Toph was brought in and from about halfway though Season 2 all the way up to 3/4 of the way through Season 3 was a non stop emotional roller coaster of joy and sadness (but like, good sadness). There were a few wobbly episodes leading up to the big four part finale but man that finale was amazing. Such a great show. And Iroh is such an awesome character