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Well, my anime season is, for the moment, shot. First the new MST season hit, then Nyaa died (which I can work around but yes, it's a disruption for me), so I just kind of decided to let it slide. If I go back and catch up on anything, it'll be Uchouten Kazoku.

But in the meantime, I was having a craving to watch Kdrama, so I decided to indulge that instead.

Watching Kdramas as an AkaYona fan, especially The Legend )
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Two more shows:

 
KADO: The Right Answer: Now this is interesting.  A first contact government procedural, yum!  Okay, I have kind of weird taste.  But lately I find it refreshing when a show is about mature adults (give or take a somewhat annoying genki-girl physicist).  Our hero is a bureaucrat, a negotiator for the Japanese government, and he ends episode 0 and starts episode 1 by delivering what I take to be the show's statement of intent:
 
"Getting what's in your interest is the goal of negotiations.  But defeating your opponent and temporarily gaining what you want will always come back to bite you in the long term.  What's best for you is giving both parties something in their interest.  ...  There isn't just one answer, for one thing.  We aren't gods.  We'll never know what was right --- and what was the right answer --- for our whole lives.  But, even if we don't know, we just have to keep looking."

And well... that works for me.

"Episode 0" is a kind of gaiden where our hero shows us what he means by that, seeing through the motives behind an assignment and thinking outside the box to achieve an unexpected win-win solution, and it's all very down to earth until at the end of ep 0/beginning of ep 1 --- immediately after that speech in fact ---

THE HIPPIE BORG ARRIVE.

Yes, some extraterrestrial and/or supernatural force appears in the form of a giant psychedelic cube which envelops our hero's plane.  The show spends ep 1 going all government procedural on it (not unlike an old kaijuu movie, come to think of it), and our hero doesn't re-emerge until the end, but I actually like this kind of granular and deliberate approach.  It mostly feels believable and lived in, down to a moment when an onlooker at the Hippie Borg incident drops her ice cream.

Plus our hero has an adorable relationship with his air-headed work partner/roommate and is now apparently friends with a white-haired prettyboy from outer space, if that sweetens the pot for ya.  BTW, women aren't especially numerous, but other than perhaps genki-girl physicist, the ones who do appear are treated as serious professionals.

I have heard someone worry that this is going to devolve into "Yay Japan" nationalist propaganda, and I think that's a genuine risk, but for now, I'm on board.  For the first time this season, firmly: Watch.

Before moving on, though, I do want to talk about Kado's animation --- because a lot of it is cell-shaded CG.  Lately I've been impressed by what they can do with that, but it still does look a little odd, and I've never actually committed to watching a show that was done that way* until now.  On this show, I'd say it looks quite good.  It helps that the visual style is pretty down-to-earth and conservative, so they're not pushing the CG to do a bunch of stuff it can't.  Actually the biggest issue was that they switch back and forth between the two techniques (ep 0 is mostly 2-d), and I kept distracting myself trying to spot what was being used when --- and it was distracting because it's to the point it almost blends, like the seams are clearly there but they're not instantly obvious.  When it is CG, it's noticeable in the tightness of forms and that floaty quality to the motion, but I didn't think it looked bad at all.  If anything, it adds something to the appeal.  All right, technology, I'm ready --- show me what you've got.

And the other sampled show for now...

Tsuki ga Kirei: I want to like this show.  It's lovely to look at, with appealing character designs and a nostalgic and luminous sense of color.  (Admittedly I got distracted by CG crowd scenes here and there, but the good far outweighs the bad, visually.)  The storytelling emphasizes tenderly-observed and subtly-conveyed emotion.  Occasionally the reaction shots of "uh"-ing and staring are a bit overplayed, but mostly it's good.  The leads are clearly falling for each other without either of them having to say a word.  My personal favorite bit is when their families happen to go to the same restaurant and the boy finds himself in front of the girl at the soda fountain; he moves to another machine and gets iced coffee instead --- whether to make way for her or to impress her with his maturity or both, we're not told and I'm not sure he even knows, but the moment doesn't fully land until he actually tries to drink the stuff and finds it too bitter for him.  On the downside, the emphasis on a social media app goes to the point of feeling like product placement and the boy's Osamu Dazai fandom generates more clunkiness (and in one moment more cringiness) than he can understand, but so far, this seems to be a slice-of-life school-days romance with its heart in the right place and a sweet, subtle touch.  If only it weren't so boring.  I want to like it, but there's just no hook to bring me back for another episode.  The show didn't do anything wrong to speak of, it just didn't do enough right to overcome my general apathy toward school-days romances.  Drop, but gently.

The still-to-watch pile as of now: Kabukibu!, Re: Creators, and I caught myself being like "c'mon, where's the period fantasy?" so I might belatedly give Granblue Fantasy a try.  Plus the new Uchouten Kazoku season starts tomorrow!  Or today maybe, time zones and such...



*The closest I've previously come to watching a cel-shaded CG anime was Ronja the Robber's Daughter, which actually looked quite good as I recall, but...  Gorou Miyazaki was trying too hard to be his dad, I think.  Like, I love the animation of a heartfelt gesture (see also really wanting to like Tsuki ga Kirei), but that show just did it constantly until it felt like way too much cream in the tea.  So I'd say that one was brought down for me by its pacing, although the animation got caught up in the problem.
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So, I'm sampling first eps of the Spring anime season more thoroughly than I have for a while.  My thoughts on the first three shows I've checked out:

Alice and Zouroku: This one was on my radar going in, and the double-length opener was middling-fair.  ESPers vs. evil government scientists is an old plot but one I like.  Mixing it with "cute girls" doesn't add sugar for me (oh yeah and there's some Alice in Wonderland theming I don't care about), but throwing in a crotchety grandpa type normal was enough to get me interested, and that's basically what I got, although the pieces are just now in place and I don't know how everything is going to balance going forward.  The show hasn't done much to elevate itself or even offer credible promises thereof, but I'm interested enough to give it another ep or two to see how it pans out and it at least looks like decent popcorn viewing if I don't have too much else to do.  Animation-wise, the use of CGI was kind of clunky but not unbearable, and the loose, cartoony art style isn't especially compelling but I mostly like it.  Tentative watch.

The Royal Tutor:  I would call this show "pretty-boys and window dressing," but the word "and" implies the enumeration of two separate things.  This is apparently supposed to be about a collection of quirky, charmingly-flawed princes and their inspiring and redeeming relationship with their lilliputian teacher, but the charm and redemption aren't clicking for me.  The princes are only mildly interesting and the titular tutor isn't living up to who the show is trying to sell him as for me, so I'm left mostly with boredom.  The ending sequence did offer a tantalizing glimpse of what the show is supposed to be, but if it couldn't put its best foot forward any better than this, I don't think it's worth my time to wait around for that show to materialize.  "Lazy animation" is also a strangely fine line for me; if it's done judiciously and skillfully I can actually be impressed by it ("Oh, how elegantly economical"), but sometimes the illusion just comes crashing down and this is a show where it did ("Oh, they're just moving the image of the carriage across the background;" "Oh, there's no motion on the screen except for lip flap;" etc.).  Drop.

Sagrada Reset: This is, like, a collection of philosophical essays packaged as a high school slice of life with supernatural elements.  It comes off with this odd hybrid feel, like the earnestness of an auteur b-movie but utterly bloodless.  I wouldn't call it pretentious, though, just abstracted.  It doesn't help that the male lead comes off as mildly pushy/creepy to me, while the female lead is practically emotionless and the explanation for it goes by too quickly and abstractly to get any traction.  The animation looked good to me, though (economical, but in this case it holds up), and the sense of atmosphere is well realized and fitting.  Again, there's a narrative hook in literally the last few seconds (it's the next ep preview this time), but again, the first ep doesn't convince me that it's worth my time to stay on board.  Drop.

The still-to-watch pile as of now: "Kado: The Right Answer" and "Tsuki ga Kirei."
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So, the Winter anime season is ending and Spring is starting.

The only Winter show I ended up watching was Scum's Wish, and I'm glad I saw it.  Its strength is its emotional rawness, which seemed very pointed at the beginning, but toward the end it got kind of vague, and in places unexpectedly simplistic?  Or at least it seemed that way to me (as I noted when I mentioned it before, being some flavor of ace might mean that a certain amount of this goes over my head, because it is very much about the messiness of teen sexuality).  I say simplistic but not formulaic.  The ending was a bold move for a romance story but a satisfying move for this one, and another of those "simplistic" things would probably seem more "wow" to somebody else than it did to me.  In general, I'd say I cried a lot in a good way but couldn't fully relate.  So I'm glad I saw it, but I don't think it's something I'll really go back to?  (Also I seem to have a track record of finding high school romances ok as I'm watching them but ultimately forgettable, just as a matter of personal taste.)

And for a more fun note (where "fun" roughly equals "schadenfreude"), after an entire season of enjoying the snarky reviews, I finally gave in and watched the first episode of Hand Shakers.  OMG, it was even worse than the snarky reviews had prepared me for.  The colors were at once psychedelic and washed out.  The 2-d animation couldn't make a single movement look smooth.  At any given moment most of the screen was taken up with cheap-looking CGI, and not only did the 2-d pop out from it, it frequently popped out from itself.  The camera work was way overdone with unnecessary moves and effects.  The music, when I noticed it, was either oddly absent or deserved the name of "muzak."  And then there was the writing, which was awful from the micro level of conversations peppered with non-sequiturs all the way up to the macro level whereupon almost nothing that happened in the episode happened for any discernible reason.  So yeah, ep 1 was good for a laugh, but I feel no need to continue.

But Spring is Here!  Uchouten Kazoku and Natsume Yuujinchou have new seasons, and some of the other stuff looks interesting.  Maybe I'll be a bit more ambitious this time (and you know, take on more than one current-run show), but I'll just be doing what I usually do, watching the preview guides at ANN and AniFem and seeing how it all looks.  (Of course sometimes you can't tell from that --- I'm keenly aware that my beloved AkaYona didn't look like much in the preview guide --- but you do what you can.)

BTW, I'm still sitting on my stockpile of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and don't know when I'll get to it.  For the next week or so I may focus on sampling the new season, then I'd scouted out some K-dramas I wanted to try, and on the anime front I thought it would be nice to watch something a bit lighter --- I mean seriously the last few anime I've watched have been Mawaru Penguindrum, Uchouten Kazoku S1, and Scum's Wish; it's time to lighten up a little.  Maybe finally get to Snow White with the Red Hair...
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Scanlation came out for the latest Akatsuki no Yona chapter, 134.5. It's a fluffy bit of New Years filler in which nothing much happens, and yet...

Should it bother me to be jossed? )
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Computer drama continues. Finally got the call that the desktop was ready, made the drive and picked it up, brought it home --- and it won't start up. Call the shop again in the morning... (This place has always been good before, honest.) [ETA: forgot to note, my portable hard drive where I actually keep my stuff was pronounced healthy, so having that back is a big help at least.]

On the comic relief side, though, guilty admission... Stuff like this is my catnip. Not the show, mind, which I haven't seen (although apparently the same people made K, whose first episode left me very cold). Reviews like this. Catnip. And good laughs.

Some choice bits:

"The extent of how mind-numbingly bad Hand Shakers is kind of just leaves you stunned. It's not even the kind of bad that would make you angry. It mostly just makes you question your life decisions up until that point, and wonder if there's a slight gas leak in your apartment." -Bamboo Dong

"It shouldn't really be possible for anime, because of its low framerate, to start showing signs of horrible decision-making in the time it takes you to blink twice in disbelief. But [...]" -Jacob Chapman

"[T]hese color atrocities are generally accompanied by a sense of direction and composition inspired by the sensation of being tossed drunkenly out of a bar. The specificity of that inspiration is important - GoHands shows don't just look drunk, they look like they are drunk while falling down a set of stairs. The GoHands experience is like being beaten to death by a Lisa Frank trapper keeper." -Nick Creamer

And a bonus, from Anime Feminist's preview:

"[One character's] breasts frequently look like water balloons containing eels fighting desperately to escape their airless grave." -Amelia Cook

Gods, if I had internet access that could actually do streaming, I might just have to watch the damn thing.
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Desktop computer is still in the shop. Waiting for the shop to call is stressful.

I didn't so much decide as observe after the fact: I'm pretty much on news blackout right now. I can't help a certain amount coming in because my Dad watches it all the time, and I'm still trusting the internet to pass along anything hugely important, but it all feels really raw. Even news sources I would normally be aligned with aren't something I have spoons for at this point.

On the upside, I ordered myself some translated manga volumes so I'll be caught up on the English releases of Yona (which currently stand at vol. 3 of 22, thank goodness for scanlations), and to start giving my Natsume Yuujinchou collection some love again.

While I was looking at my manga collection and deciding for sure what I wanted, it struck me that I had the old TokyoPop volumes of Loveless and hadn't read them in years, and I figured I'd take a look and see if I still liked it enough to hang onto it or even catch up. Long story short, probably not. More under the cut with vague allusions to BDSM, underage, and general WTFery. )
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I'm not doing the Snowflake challenge, but I've seen this prompt from it come up in my circle:

In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul.

For me, the obvious answer is Rurouni Kenshin (TV anime, through the end of the Kyoto arc). Whether it was the first time or just the time that brought it home, the stubborn compassion of this show really made a mark on me. This is a story where the opponents (or the best opponents) aren't evil people but have reasons for what they do, whether they've been wounded by trauma or have some kind of nobility in their own worldview. And it presented this not in the context of some gritty political story, but in a fun, engaging shonen sword-fight melodrama that met me where I was at the time. (In hindsight, it might be that the standard shonen formula was only really going to work on me once, and if so damn was I lucky this was my once). Now, there are villains in this who are just incorrigibly nasty and you can shamelessly cheer to see them go down, but even so, the show doesn't want them to die. And even with the opponents who are most deeply sympathetic, it doesn't mean you don't fight with all your strength to keep them from doing the hurtful things they intend to do.

But after this show I knew in a deep way that, in fiction and more importantly in real life, there was a healthier and more satisfying narrative to look for than "these are the bad guys, enjoy it when they get punished" --- that victory may be necessary, but healing and reconciliation are the true ideal. That's still a quality that I find compelling in fiction, and it still has a major effect on my moral and political outlook.
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Previously had the news we're getting another season of Natsume Yuujinchou...

Now it also turns out we're also getting another season of The Eccentric Family.

Oh, yeah, and Rakugo Shinjuu, too, I forgot about that one.

There are a couple more it might take to make my life entirely complete, but it's shaping up to be a promising year.
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A SIXTH season of Natsume Yuujinchou is coming next year!

(Of course I've roundly failed to keep up on Season 5 and have just been hoarding the eps for later consumption while I obsess over Yuletide and occasionally Yuri!!! on Ice, but I'm sure I'll manage to watch it before the next season starts...)
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I didn't sleep very well last night because I kept having weird dreams.

In one I particularly remember, there was a graphic novel version of Yuri!!! on Ice (and I say that advisedly because it didn't look like manga). So of course I was reading it, but in the dream it turned out to be some kind of award-bait "tales of love and loss" bullshit and like the whole point of it was that VICTOR DIES. (And then it got really bizarre, because this was a sleep-dream, but nevermind that.) Even in the dream I was like "why are you doing this to me?" and then I woke up and was able to assure myself that it's totally not that kind of story. (I'm sure.)

Although I admit, with the last episode coming tomorrow, I am sitting here like "please don't screw it up please don't screw it up..."
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So I took it in my head to get back into anime and actually picked up a few new shows this season:

ERASED: (Japanese title: Boku dake ga inai machi, lit. "The town where only I'm not there") Basically a thriller with a supernatural time-travel element. Compelling and promises some good depth.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: A mature period drama about the challenges of an artistic life, showcasing an obscure traditional Japanese theatrical form? HOT DAMN! Yes, the crossover audience for something like this is pretty narrow, but I am so totally in it. (The theatrical form in question, Rakugo, is a bit like stand-up comedy with a traditional canon of routines.)

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: This one is closer to "on probation" than the others. It's a "trapped in an MMO (or suspiciously MMO-like fantasy world)" show* that sets itself apart by being at once gritty and humane, looking more seriously at what it would be like to be plunked down in a place where you have to murder goblins for a living. At least so far, it mixes in enough charm to avoid descending too far into grimdark, but we'll see if that holds up. (There is a bit of annoying fanservice occasionally, but the show itself almost seems to slyly undercut it, to me. Also ep. 1 has a "camp gay" character, but at least they have the decency to be a badass and not take any guff.)

And I'm still slowly catching up on the previous season of Snow White with the Red Hair, haven't gotten into the new stuff yet. Still largely fluffy and wholesome, although as of ep. 8 it may be taking on a bit more of an edge.


*These things are a genre unto themselves in anime these days, even as The MMO Grinder scrapes the bottom of the barrel for material. Yeah, not sure what's going on with all that... (And it doesn't really matter if I'm not because my crappy internet connection couldn't handle an MMO even if my graphics card and social inhibitions could.)

Fairy Tales

Jan. 5th, 2016 09:14 am
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Once Upon a Fic is on again for this year. I'm not planning to sign up this time (still thinking that any writing time I assemble I should use on more self-determined projects), but it was a good time last year, so if anyone else likes the idea of fairy tale fic, I can recommend it.

Speaking of fairy tales, I did feel like it had been too long since I watched any anime. Snow White with the Red Hair had sounded good, I just never got around to it, and now it has a new season starting up, so I thought I'd give it a go. I decided on one episode per day, and... Well, it's not so compelling that I've broken that resolution. Pretty fluffy so far (3 eps in), but I like it. I get the sense that it's for a pretty young target audience. The heroine's strength and independence is the main theme (the results are mixed so far but I appreciate it), and the charming prince is a shamelessly-legitimate sweetheart.
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I've been wanting some expensive toys lately. I am desiring a graphics card (seeing cool-looking PC games and always concluding "Nope, can't run it" is getting old). I'm also wanting a copy of Anime Studio to play with --- and decided this just as a new version is coming out, like, literally tomorrow; I don't know if that's lucky or unlucky.

But anyway, anime! I'd been off of it for awhile and this season I felt like I could get back into simulcasts --- and picked up approximately one show. I haven't fully given up on the idea of watching Seraph of the End (I ran into the manga awhile back and found it breathtakingly formulaic but fun, which the reviews of the anime seem to bear out), but the only thing I actually have been watching is the new adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan.

Thoughts behind the cut )

So overall, I'm really enjoying this new adaptation, and I think it's a good introduction to a story that's something of a classic in Japan. If you want to get more into it after that, the old OVA is a fascinating contrast that will take you further along in the story, albeit in kind of a reckless rush.
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So, I mentioned in my previous movie-watching post that I was planning to watch The Wind Rises for the first time that night. Well, I did, so I thought I'd come back with my thoughts.

TL;DR: not as bad as I feared, but Howl is still the last Ghibli movie to really blow me away.

Interesting but not great )
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Lately I've been in one of those voracious moods for reading. Also for watching things, mostly movies, but I'm ready to try picking up some simulcast anime again this season, too.

Reading, mainly I've still been tearing through the Cadfael novels (although I'm currently taking a break from them), and with the current anime I'm not ready to make any kind of report yet, but I can talk about a couple of movies I've seen in the last week or so.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya and The Secret of Kells )
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Still haven't finished the anime from last season, but the new season is starting. Given my experience the last couple of times, I was less ambitious and only picked up two shows.

Well, maybe one and-a-half, because one isn't a "new" show as such, it's just that
THEY'RE MAKING NEW EPISODES OF MUSHI-SHI OMG OMG OMGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!
Yeah, I'm not even gonna try to describe it; if you haven't seen it yet just go look at the first season here, try two or three eps and see if it's your thing. (I say two or three because episode 1 is pretty atypical of the series.)

The only entirely new thing I've tried and picked up is One Week Friends. A boy wants to become friends with the standoffish girl in his class, but when he finally manages to coax her out of her shell, he finds out the reason for her reticence: her memories of her friends are reset every week; every Monday he'll be a stranger to her again. The laser-guided amnesia thing isn't necessarily believable, but it doesn't have to be, it's just an excuse to explore the emotional implications of the premise. This kind of human-scale exploration of emotion and connection really seems to be my thing, and episode one delivered it well. The characters are rendered in a charmingly-simple style but their faces are richly expressive, and that feeling extends to the animation as well (I'm particularly recalling the hero's adorably rubbery "shot-through-the-heart" comic takes). It remains to be seen how they'll sustain the high-concept premise through an ongoing series, but the opening was very promising.


(Oh, and I've also become acutely addicted to Puzzle & Dragons. Yeah, I knew that Android tablet was good for something... ^_^;;)
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So, the anime season is wrapping up. I'm still sitting on the finales of Buddy Complex and Pilot's Love Song.

I never did catch up on Noragami, which from the first 5 eps or so I have very mixed feelings about. There's a lot about it that I want to like: the visuals are beautifully polished, the worldbuilding is interesting, the characters are likeable and full of personality, the humor mostly works, the fanservice is occasionally annoying but within tolerances... And the treatment of the heroine's agency annoys the shit out of me (Hiyori is like this optimistic go-getter I just want to root for, and most of the time when she tries to achieve something it comes off as ignorant and ridiculous and makes a disastrous and embarrassing mess). I'm probably at the point of putting this one in the "when/if I get to it" pile.

I did finish Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha, and I enjoyed it and recommend it, at least if a healing anime with some magical girl nostalgia and Shinto-supernatural sounds up your alley. ANN has a good review of it that I don't really have anything to add to.
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Oh, yeah, I remember the other thing I wanted to post about...

After totally flaking out last season, I started on four anime series this season, let them lapse for about the past month, and am trying to catch back up.

The first one I caught up on in the last few days is Buddy Complex. It's very much a conventional mecha-action show, but it's fun and competently done (and I've learned to be grateful for that). The unique schtick of the "coupling system" (synchronizing two mecha pilots to unlock super-mode) is interesting and catalyzes character dynamics, and yes, it is a rich vein of innuendo, especially with their fantasy-terminology ("I'm getting a 'nice coupling' reading!" "Proposing!"), but the show itself is actually quite tasteful about leaving the innuendo to the viewer (even managing to maintain an air of perfect innocence when a character made one of those "nice coupling" remarks and then walked away from the camera, just coincidentally offering a nice shot of his backside...).

The show also plays its narrative-hook cards pretty shrewdly in the early episodes to draw you in --- particularly regarding its other particular schtick. Maybe I only just noticed it, but this seemed to be the season to start shows at the end, with a flash-forward to much later or even after the events of the series; World Conquest Zvezda Plot did it, and there it was a good move in preparing the viewer to take any of what followed in any way seriously (that one didn't look bad, but ep 1 was a bit too nonsensical to hook me); The Pilot's Love Song (which I need to catch up on) also did it and needed it less, but I guess it lent a wistful, tragic tone and levered an action sequence into an otherwise-domestic opening. Buddy Complex, however, took the cake, using a time-warping singularity to actually pull off the trope in-universe and playing the resulting cards pretty shrewdly (in recent episodes our hero has been stupidly genre-blind about it, but the issue of time travel was also brought back in a way that I found interesting and well-considered).

So yeah, I wouldn't say it rises above the level of conventional mecha show --- there's like always a mecha fight in the second half of an episode and the bad guys like always have some reason to retreat before the credits roll --- but so far at least, it's a fun and interesting specimen of the breed.

(BTW, the other two series I'm not caught back up on besides Pilot's Love Song are Noragami and Inari Kon Kon; I'll just have to see when I get back to them...)
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Yup, close to two months this time...

Yesterday was my birthday. I got money from my parents, and Jessie and Jo sent the Devil Survivor 2 game (so I can find out if the anime really is lame by comparison ^_~ ), and the Moribito full series box, which is awesome.

Coincidentally, as my monthly back-catalog indulgence, I had just finished re-watching Kemono no Souja Erin, which was still also awesome, and in general I think I need to re-watch things I like more often. cut for some remarks on the re-watch, with spoilers )

On current anime, I might have just taken the season to rest. I never did go back to Servant x Service, and I'm a few weeks behind on Sunday Without God and Free! Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist is still just shameless fluffy fun. Uchouten Kazoku is by far the best thing I'm watching, combining Tanuki and Tengu hijinks with surprisingly grounded family drama and subtle storytelling.

Since last writing, Parallels has also gone live and had its author reveals. Chaco made me some illustrations for Seven Year Promise, and my recipient skyshores' requests nudged me to re-watch Kiki's Delivery Service, which was good since I had totally forgotten what an amazing movie it was. I also had fun making a treat for Oryx based on Hyouka, and I got very gracious comments on the stories I wrote, so I'm happy. Cut for links to the stories I wrote. )

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