Friday, December 30, 2016

12 Days of Anime: The 2016 "Almosts"

As I finally make up my top 2016 lists (I mean, it wouldn't be fair to do it before all of the shows finished airing this week!) there are also titles that I immediately know aren't top-of material and yet, I'm still fond of them in some ways.

We had shows that set out with grand plans to tell big stories and yet, just faltered in the end and stumbled over characterization as well. Kiznaiver did a lot of the first and some of the second while Concrete Revolutio did an equal amount of both (I find that I like ConRevo's first cour better than it's second and largely because of how hard it dropped the ball on Kikko and Emi).

Then we have the shows that had some pacing issues. Snow White with the Red Hair/Akagami no Shirayuki-hime suffered from being centered around a weaker arc and My Hero Academia really needed two cours from the start since the pacing moved at a snail's pace some weeks. I suppose Erased/Boku Daki ga Inai Machi also falls under this category, as Bobduh put it "it was two-thirds of a show that would easily make the top ten welded to one-third of a show I’d have dropped in ten minutes."

But I still have a fondness for a lot of these shows, they aren't surefire buys for me but they're likely buys. And, if a show didn't make either this list or tomorrow's list then I'll probably never remember to buy it!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

12 Days of Anime: Why Fairy Tales Keep Getting Stranger

I'm a fan of fairy tales, not the overly-tired retellings that pass for fairy tales in YA but actual stories about the strange and the prices it exacts upon it's characters. I have lots of opinions on fairy tales in general but the most pertinent one to this posting is that people simply aren't really making them, I can go an entire year and find only one or two amongst ALL of the media I consume.

I suppose people aren't doing it because it's hard. Fairy tales are full of weird turns and odd twists of logic which is something I'd generally only use to describe the worst books I read these days. I started thinking about all of this when I heard that Edgar Allen Poe wrote what's basically a 1001 Nights fanfic (called The 1002nd Night I believe) where Scheherazade spends her 1002nd night telling her husband strange tales of the modern day, so strange that he executes her for it!

I believe that this would be called "the opposite of a fix-fic".

But following the notion that fairy tales should be strange and unknowable to at least a degree, then yes Flip Flappers is absolutely a fairy tale. I was hesitant to call it one at first (wondering if I was overly influenced by it's cute ending sequence with fairy tale images) but the shifting conflict and worlds of the final few episodes convinced me that, while there's really no other story to compare it to in this regard, Flip Flappers is a strange fairy tale of courage, determination, and love. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

12 Days of Anime: When Strength Is Many Things

Editorial note: These thoughts were inspired by the first three episodes of Izetta the Last Witch but do not necessarily reflect the entire show given that I wasn't interested enough to finish it. 

A few years ago now there was quite a bit of discussion about "strong female characters" and what this entailed. People still talk about the idea now of course but there was some intense discourse as people debated, does this mean physically strong? Like a male character? What does "like a male character" even MEAN anyway? There has been some general agreements since then; "Strong Female Character" (when used in a positive, non-ironic sense, it can totally be used in a negative, ironic sense as well) means a capable female character who can have any number of traits.

But I would like to add an addendum onto this idea: you can only have a truly "strong female character" if they are also written in a setting that will recognize their strengths.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

12 Days of Anime: Changing Thoughts on Adaptations

Hi y'all, sorry that these posts have gotten away from me so badly. As usual I've been busier than I'd like in the rest of my life and it's taken a toll on my blogging time. Honestly it's taken a toll on everything this year, especially my manga-reading and anime-watching free time. I've gotten pickier than ever about what I spend my time watching and reading and it's really made me reconsider how I feel about adaptations of works, both those that I've already seen and those I haven't.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12 Days of Anime: Family Friendly Anime from 2016

When I was convincing a friend to watch Yuri on Ice she asked if it was safe for work and I said "yeah it's fine! .....wait SHIT NO, HOT SPRINGS". My friend did watch the show but prudently decided to not try and watch it during work because here in America we still have an awful lot of nudity taboos. And that's one of the hardest things about recommending anime to very casual watchers, there are so many little moments like that (and in YoI those hot spring moments are pretty small) that by now I don't bat an eye at (well, our nudity taboos are a bit, puritanical I'll say) but it's totally something you have to think about when recommending!

So dear readers let me help you out: a few different shows from this past year that you could possibly reach a broader audience with, although slightly different audiences each time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

12 Days of Anime: ....watching shows for the cute outfits

Dangit idol shows.

While I can usually keep myself from watching a show just because it has cute outfits that doesn't mean I won't try out a few episodes juuuuust in case. Which is why I tried out the main Idolm@ster series this year but, there just wasn't a lot of actual idoling going on in it! A friend of mine, who knew exactly what I meant, suggested that I try Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls but I've only had time to watch one episode so I don't even know how I feel about that series or not yet!

At least I kept myself from watching Love Live Sunshine, watching the sequel to a series I didn't like (and never saw the second season) just because of some cute characters would be silly right?

Monday, December 19, 2016

12 Days of Anime: The Shojo Hero Takeshi Natsume

Wohoops, totally forgot to link this one! I published one of my 12 Days of Anime posts over on The OASG, The Shojo Hero Takeshi Natsume where I talk about Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume and the Book of Friends) and how he really is a shojo lead. Not a transplanted shounen lead, not a shojo "romantic lead" guy but just, a shojo lead!

12 Days of Anime: Not watching shows just for the cute outfits

As I think a lot of readers here know, I cosplay! I've been into sewing for a really long time so it's no wonder that I'd be attracted to some section of costuming or another, and since I never seem to have the energy to think up my own designs, cosplaying already created designs is a good set-up for me. But, while I might be picky about what I actually make (you have to have a certain love for a design, character, and series to spend THAT much time recreating it), my love of interesting designs has lead me to make some, uh, bad viewing choices.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12 Days of Anime: Battle of the Space Operas

Okay, so to recap once again, I've been watching more Gundam this year. And, if one, massively long-running franchise wasn't enough to keep me occupied (well two, I am still futilely attempting to catch up with Precure) then Amazon suggested I start another this past summer. Since it had been a few years since my last free Prime trial Amazon offered me another one and I thought "great, I can get free shipping on cosplay things, some audible credits, and check out SDF Macross!" which was streaming for free on Prime. I actually  got into anime right around when Macross Frontier was coming out but much like Gundam I was never quite sure which series I should even try out and the series has resisted legal streaming attempts even more than Gundam has (due to possibly the worst licensing contract ever that someone REALLY needs to challenge in court someday).

Unfortunately I wasn't able to finish SDF Macross before my subscription expired but I got quite far and I did enjoy it! I can tell that the series is riffing off of some other stories that I'm not familiar with (possibly Yamamoto, dangit another long space opera franchise that's hard to get!) but it's quite a bit sillier than "war is hell" Gundam and it's other major differences (spending arguably more time in space, aliens, wait yes I know that sounds familiar too) made it a fun change of pace. I'm still not sure if I want to watch every single iteration of Macross but, much like Gundam and Precure, I'm now expecting to embark on a multi-year journey to watch at least a good chunk of it!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Intro to the 2016 12 Days of Anime/How To Run Away In A Mecha Series

As I said in my post the other day, it's time for the 12 Days of Aniblogging again and I am jumping into the fray once more this year! (and we're already a day behind because of a minor migraine, maaaaaan) In also following a past tradition, the idea is that you blog about things you saw this year with the implication, but not rule, that they should be from the current year as well. But I am going to toss this suggestion out the window and talk about two shows that are most definitely not from this past year and one is actually older than me!

Monday, December 12, 2016

A short return

Hey y'all.

Well this is damned frustrating, I realized in advance that it'd be hard for me to make many posts in November (two trips and studying for a big test) but then not only did my work hit the holiday rush craziness two weeks early (which just leaves me exhausted once I'm home) but Trump won the election and frankly my anxiety and depression have been through the roof ever since. 

So it's just been hard to organize my thoughts and do anything, even beyond writing reviews it's just been tough to focus. But here's my plan for the rest of the year: 12 Days of Anime starts up in a few days and I'll be posting here and at least one post over on The OASG as well. Because dammit y'all, I started working on these ideas in JULY, I gotta do this. After Christmas I'm not sure, I mean the plan is still "get back to blogging"  but little fuzzy on the details right now because I'm that exhausted all the time.

In the meantime, while I have plenty of books on my to-review list I've actually also read quite a few lately where I don't have enough thoughts on them to review but I still wanted to talk about anyway. Like The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle where for me the greatest problem was that it's a bit of a conspiracy story but centered around a 16-ish year old boy who just acts completely opposite of how I would (surprisingly enough the story has aged well which surprised me given that it's a story about science and at least fifty years old!). Not a bad book but one I just don't have a lot to say about, unlike Neil Gaiman's Ocean At The Edge of the Lane which I feel like I lot to say about but I'd rather do that as a group discussion since I'm sure there were nuances and allusions in the story that I missed and I don't want to review a story if I actively know that I missed some parts of it. Speaking of more fairytale-esque works, I read Briar Rose by Jane Yolen in a day and, while this was good, I think it needs to be my last read on Nazis/the Holocaust in a while, it's just really distressing in an unproductive way for me and I honestly probably would have put it down earlier if, uh, it hadn't been the only book I brought with me to the emergency room.

 Other works have been more banal, like a series I won copies of from Tor, Between Two Worlds by Emma Newman which was frankly just a slog to get through the first book and then it didn't even have the decency of having a real ending and nope, not even a cliffhanger will make me continue with what felt like another tired mash-up of Victorian ideas and magic. I've also been trying a lot of more literary fiction lately, like Life After Life, Swamplandia, and Tell the Wolves I'm Home and by and large they just aren't sticking. Really, literary fiction is weird, it wants to be all ~realistic~ with ~deeper meanings~ but then has really weird set-ups to achieve that second part which kinda defeats the first part....

I am hanging in there, I'm also rather pissy that I never seem to have the time and energy to return to blogging. But since I don't know when the day will be that I have more time and energy I don't want to stop in the meantime because I'm afraid that day may be years off. I'm working on it though, I'd like to get there soon.