Friday, December 29, 2017

On the eleventh day of aniblogging I give to thee: 11 shows that I haven't yet seen

No matter how much anime I try to watch each year, and by god I watch a LOT, there are always shows I just don't get around to. Sometimes a show has a slow start so I try it, drop it, and only find out much later that it was worth sticking around for. Other times a show is so niche that is is both incredibly my kind of show but really hard for me to find out about (I feel like I'm trying to do the reverse of this with Kabukibu, I'm trying to let everyone know how much I enjoyed this show now that it's on a larger streaming service). So, while I most likely won't end up trying out every show on this list they are all shows that I'm curious about!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

You don't need a "normal" quirk to be a superhero

The second season of My Hero Academia gave its side characters a lot of chances to shine during the sports festival arc and I was struck by how many of the characters' superhuman quirks were (on the surface) completely unsuited to being superhero powers.

Like, let's run down the list of 10 of the stranger quirks that make for surprisingly good superhero powers (even if I question the logic behind basically all of them)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

On the ninth day of aniblogging I give to thee: My favorite shows of 2017

I never aim to have a "top ten list" or anything like that, I just count up how many books/shows/etc I liked the most and go from there. And, since I'm bad at numbering these, let's just go alphabetically from the top!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Eight times Encouragement of Climb was my aesthetic

So Encouragement of Climb season 2 came out a couple of years ago but I only saw it last summer and I put the title for this post away in my drafts lists for the 12 days of anime 2017. 

And then I was so busy that I didn't realize that Crunchyroll had taken down all of the second season episodes until earlier this week.

So, hopefully I'll have a better version of this post next year. Frankly I just didn't have enough time to torrent the show to find the right screenshots, but here's the gist of what I was planning to write:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Six seasons of Takashi Natsume receiving Reiko Natsume’s comeuppance

I was fairly surprised when we got a fifth season of Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume and the Book of Friends) last year. I wasn’t surprised that a sixth season came around shortly later, Natsume has been doing split-cours before it was cool, but it certainly was wild to have a return to the series after more than a couple of years.

I enjoyed the return and by and large I don’t believe that I had any stunning insights into the show that were borne of my intervening years of life experience, phew because that would be really condescending. There was one thing that I noticed however and that is that Reiko Natsume, the deceased grandmother of Takashi Natsume, follows the classic trickster archetype but with one difference: her comeuppance always falls to Takashi.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Is your job your life? The five girls of Sakura Quest

I didn’t like Sakura Quest as much as I had hoped I would and it was for the simple reason that I just didn’t resonate with any of the five girls. In some ways, the girls were really similar and I don’t just mean in art style, this is a story about working adults and yet it seems like all they do IS work!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Why I don’t like digital-only manga: four series I can’t check out from the library!

While I certainly don’t mind having the option to collect manga digitally I am a little put out by the sheer number of digital-only manga titles coming out these days. They’re largely being put out by Kodansha USA and while I have several little complaints (they put out so many it’s hard to keep out, they release them so quietly I never see any buzz, etc) but my chief complaint is that I can’t check them out from the library! 

There may be some way for my library system to get say, a kindle or comixology version of these manga for patrons to check out, or heck maybe even try to make Overdrive do something useful for once, but as far as I know my library system hasn’t done this so I’m just bummed out. I’d love to read these series but heck, I can’t even keep up with buying series that I already love, I can’t keep dropping money for new stories sight unread!

So, here are four titles that I’d love to read but haven’t yet (and skipping over the elephant in the room, Chihayafuru, and skipping over the couple that actually have gotten later print releases).

Saturday, December 16, 2017

On the third day of aniblogging I give to thee: Three new franchises for me (thanks guys)

Like I said in yesterday’s post, I actually managed to get into the Symphogear series this past summer when I was nursing a really persistent migraine. The “nice” thing about my migraines (and why it also took years longer than it should have to diagnose) is that I don’t have light sensitivity so at least I can still watch videos even when there is literally nothing else I can do (no really, the pain keeps me from sleeping and even thinking straight is really tough). I had tried Symphogear a few years earlier with a friend but we just couldn’t get into it, it was too campy for us (plus the visuals in the first few episodes are rough, the show actually had to switch studios halfway through the first season which is a special iteration of production hell). 

This time I was willing to try and make it past the camp and I really dug it. Symphogear is kinda funny in that the plots often end up being super dumb, the villains never die (someone please just kill off that doctor for good already), and yet the characters are really fun despite all of the insane hoops the plot makes them jump through. I’m enjoying it, wish it had more of a US fandom so I could buy fanart of it, and REALLY REALLY WANT THAT FOURTH SEASON CRUNCHYROLL.

Another franchise that I got into earlier this year was Fire Emblem, I totally blame Justin for this. I’ve been playing Path of Radiance on and off (I'm not terribly great at it) and Justin eventually encouraged me to play Fire Emblem Heroes as well. I wish Heroes had more story content since I think that’s the most fun part (also, ORB BANANZA) but for the moment I’m having fun with the events. I just hope that I beat PoR EVENTUALLY since there are more Fire Emblem games I want to play later and I really don’t like to have multiple, unfinished games on my hands at once.

Finally, in more ways than one, both Funimation and Crunchyroll have started streaming the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 from 2012 (good lord, I was still in undergrad!) and I’m pretty happy I’ve finally gotten an introduction to another one of anime’s seminal, sci-fi series. The premise of the story is way bleaker than I expected however, I did not realize that the series would start with “aliens came, bomb us, wrecked the Earth, and we have about a year before humanity goes extinct” which isn’t exactly the mood I want to be watching in 2017! But so far, episodes are being released one by one so I won’t finish the series until halfway through the spring season, I’m digging the high tension plots and continuously amused that the Yamato is literally a marine battleship IN SPACE. Like seriously guys, I don’t feel like this design is the best fit for the number of atmospheric re-entries that the Yamato is clearly going to be making…..

Friday, December 15, 2017

On the second day of aniblogging I give to thee: two shows blocked from me~

Netflix was not a newcomer to the anime streaming business in 2017 but frankly, this is the year they’re starting to irk me the most. Sure I was plenty grumpy with how long I had to wait in-between cours of Kuromukuro but this year the gaps in between when a show airs and when a show drops on Netflix have gotten more random-seemingly. I’m hoping that the fall 2017 fantasy series Children of Whales pops up on the service soon; it looked really interesting and it’s a shame since Viz Media actually managed to release the first volume of the manga to coincide with the anime’s airing and that synergy really does help sales! (also, expect a review from me on that first volume over at The OASG sometime in the coming weeks).

I was also miffed this year that Crunchyroll did not end up simulcasting, or rather stream at all, Symphogear AXZ when it aired. I’m going to talk more about Symphogear in a later post but I finally got into the franchise this year and I was excited to see that I was all set to catch-up right around when the latest season was going to air (I have a lot of friends who love the show so I wanted to talk with them about it!). And yet, we haven’t heard a PEEP out of Crunchyroll about the show. As far as I know, the show hasn’t switched studios or anything, there must be music rights involved but Crunchyroll must have dealt with those for the first three seasons of Symphogear as well, so I’m befuddled! I really hope that CR is able to put up the show either by/when the upcoming fifth season airs, I really want my campy sorta-kinda-idol-punching-monsters show!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Atom: The Blockheads

Most folks would start a blog post on the recently concluded anime Atom: The Beginning by saying what previous experience they have with Osamu Tezuka's best known work Mighty Atom (Astro Boy). I will be brief: I have no experience with it at all (except for Naoki Urasawa's manga adaptation Pluto). Atom: The Beginning is not one of Tezuka's own works, instead it is a currently running manga written and illustrated by Tetsuro Kasahara, although yes it does have some contributions/guidance from both Masami Yuki and Osamu Tezuka's son, Makoto Tezuka. 

Given that this is a different kind of Astro Boy story, much like Pluto in that way, I think it's fine that I came to it with more or less no experience. These days it's rather common for every currently airing anime with a manga source material to have their source material snapped up and licensed but strangely enough Atom hasn't been licensed here, ie, I have no idea how faithful or not this adaptation is to its source. Atom also seemed to be a bit of an unpopular anime; I'm not sure how much of this is due to its own merits and how much of this relates to the fact that it was streaming behind a double-paywall on Amazon's Anime Strike service, but typically for franchises I'm not familiar with I'll rely on the knowledge of other fans to fill me in on historical context, funny cameos etc etc. (I mean, I REALLY don't have the time to google every character, every event, and then try several different spellings and trying to search in Japanese too since that's what it often takes!).

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Eccentric Family 2

I really enjoyed the first season of The Eccentric Family. It was whimsical and magical in a very low-key way, even when the stakes became very high for Yasaburo and the rest of his tanuki buddies/family. Of course it always helps when the art is pretty as well, I liked the semi-flat, far less moe than most PA Works shows, style and there are still so many scenes that I can crisply remember thanks to both this artwork and their tone.

I was excited for the second season of the show, I wasn’t quite sure what else needed telling in the story but I was up for it! And now that the second season has ended I’m left asking myself, What was the point of that season?

The second season was not bad but it did not have the clear character developement and drive of the first season. I’ve seen folks mention that the source material for The Eccentric Family is a book series and while it’s set to be a trilogy the final book isn’t out yet (all I’ve heard about it is that it contains The Great Tengu War WHICH I AM SO DOWN FOR). That would explain some things, in my opinion the middle installment in a trilogy is the trickiest story to tell satisfactorily since it lacks the natural draw and tidiness that comes with either a beginning or an ending. 

And it certainly feels like we’re in the middle of Benten’s story. I was a bit frustrated that this season didn’t do even more with her since she is the most fascinating character in the series. It’s not that I don’t love our tanuki main cast but we already know them well; from their histories, hopes, to why their conflicts play out as they do. But Benten, born human Satomi Suzuki and spirited away and then trained by Akadama into becoming a tengu, is a real mystery all around (fun tidbit, it looks like Professor Yodogawa’s assistant is her brother!). Equally mysterious is another character with a name that’s not a name, Nidame (literally, The Second) who appears to be Benten’s inverse; a tengu (whom at this point I’m presuming born to Akadama) but who vocally eschews his tengu status, despite constantly doing things no human could. This is a thematic conflict ripe for development, even though I fear it might make the story messier as a whole (if, as Yasaburo says, there are tanuki, humans, and tengu, is it possible for someone to switch classes? And what about those oni in the demon world? Etc etc) 

The Eccentric Family 2 advanced some of the plots surrounding the Shinogami Family but it did not change anything about the larger tanuki society, or the even larger Kyoto society, really at all. And that’s where this season fell flat for me. The Eccentric Family is clearly a story with ideas of mixing in themes and conflicts between both personal and larger levels and yet it didn’t deliver this time. I can only hope that this second season was one of house-keeping, merely tidying up, for a grander, more foolish, finale.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Anime 2017 Initial Round-UP

Let me tell ya folks, I have NOT missed messing around in blogger to try and make sure my posts are actually legible. HOO BOY.

Anyway, as anyone who listens regularly to the The OASG podcast probably knows, I tried out a heck of a lot of anime this summer! I'm not keeping up with all of it but that's fine by me, I'm forever trying to find that happy balance between "this anime is only okay but I want to watch it alongside other people" and "this anime just isn't doing enough for me, let's work on my backlog instead." I am trying to plow through last year's Precure show, Mahou Tsukia Pretty Cure, since my plan is to finish that witch series before watching Little Witch Academia and then finish THAT before I go back to this year's Precure series, but really that's the only backlog show I'm watching right now too. Especially since I am still watching three shows from the spring (which again are Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, My Hero Academia, and Sakura Quest) so once again I've got a full plate of shows to watch!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Spring 2017 Anime Final Thoughts

Hot damn, what do you mean I haven't even worked on a post since March?!
As I continue to struggle to figure out a new, sustainable posting schedule for NI (and probably won’t until September, grad school starts at the end of August and omg my life is going to be busy as heck) I did find the time to write about the spring shows I finished with a few exceptions:

The first set of exceptions are my three carry-over shows: Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, My Hero Academia Season 2, and Sakura Quest. I will be talking about those shows, and writing related essays on them, once they wrap up in the fall.

 The other set of exceptions are two series where I’m more interested in writing short essay on aspects of them rather than doing one of these quick write-ups. Those two are The Eccentric Family 2 and Atom: The Beginning. So hopefully I will have two short essays up later in the month as well, and my thoughts on the summer shows should be posted soon too!

 Now, onto everything I finished, including some shows I started very late in the season (link to ANN pages for summaries so save myself time & energy hah).

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Best of 2016

Dang, this is quite a bit later than I wanted.

I needed that break, not so much because reviewing was burning me out but life was burning me out in general. Work is less crazy after the holidays, I've been accepted into grad school which will cool my job search for a while, and Katsucon is done so I have fewer pressing panel/cosplay deadlines to get to.

Plus, the zoloft is REALLY kicking in now and guys, in hindsight I was pretty dang depressed last year. I had so many different health problems (did you know stress can fuck up your eating AND give you hives? Not simultaneously but I only fixed my eating problems after a little bit of bronchitis and the hives did drive me to the emergency room) that there was just no respite for me at all, there was always something going wrong for basically a solid year.

Personally 2017 is going better so far, although yes we have possibly the last president of the United States currently in power so I'm real glad for the zoloft keeping the "hamster ball of anxiety" in the back of my mind, not constantly in the forefront. But before I fully stride into 2017 with this blog I want to look back at 2016 one last time here and talk about the things I did love last year.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

As you might have noticed, a bit of a hiatus

Hey y'all.

So, I'm not quite sure what's going on but lately I've both been feeling better mentally (thanks meds) and also way more tired (possibly the same meds??? Or depression. Or an iron deficiency. Lots of variables here). And I also have a lot of other, mostly-short term projects going on that are wiping me out even more and, as you can see, blogging has taken a step back for me.

I'm still posting manga/light novel reviews over on The OASG every week but I think I'm going to take the rest of January off from here. I'm still working on my Best of 2016 post and I do have one more 12 Days of Anime post in the pipeline (although IIRC I'm only going to have 11 posts instead of 12, oops) and hopefully in February I'll have a few more things out of the way and I'll have the time to come back. Until then though, I feel like 2016 is still catching up with me and kicking my ass and the fight has gotten rather exhausting.