Classroom Crisis – Episode 10

This week’s Classroom Crisis was… an episode. For the second week straight, the show focused largely on Nagisa’s political dealings within the Kirishina Corporation, and for the second week straight, those dealings failed to have basically any emotional grounding or sense of coherent internal drama. Nagisa’s stuff here is really just “stuff happening” – it all exists to the side of the conflicts that either have some earned emotional weight or drive at the contrast between pragmatism and idealism (which is a conflict that’s itself largely confined to the conversations between Kaito and Nagisa, since the actual political stuff is way too simplistic to carry much meaning). This episode had one great conversation between Iris and Mizuki that reflected what the show is actually good at, but aside from that, this was a dreary wash.

But anyway. You can check out my breakdown over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 9 in Review

Wednesday has come again! It’s time to talk about cartoons and other very serious things.

Uniquely serious things at the moment, it turns out. “Anime is serious business” has lost some of its humor in light of last week being my final week with a day job. Right now, as of this week, anime is my business. My only business.

This is kind of terrifying! I can’t exactly say I’ve reached the point where I can go comfortably full-time on criticism and writing in general, but I can at least fake it for a while. Between my ANN work, my advertising money, and my Patreon support, I’m gonna try to make a go of this. Things are gonna be kinda tight for a while, but this also means I’ll have a whole lot more time to work on writing projects for all you guys, so hopefully this is one big step towards a pretty delightful future. If you’d like to support me in this grand experiment, please feel free to chip in a couple whatevers, though I also accept worried, half-disbelieving “good lucks”, or even confident ones.

A few people have asked if I’d be willing to proofread, edit, or review things on commission, and the answer is definitely yes. I’m going full freelance here, meaning I’m a mercenary with nothing to lose and everything to prove, meaning yes I will take your projects that sounds awesome. I’ll hopefully integrate ways to inquire about such things on the site in a more formal way shortly, but you can message me here, on twitter, on ask.fm, or on patreon if you’ve got anything you’d like to discuss. The one formal project I’m most concerned with getting off the ground is setting up communal support funds for specific shows – like, if ten people want me to start reviewing Eva episodes one by one, they actually have a convenient way to make that happen. I’ve got a whole big to-do list to run down there.

Speaking of formal projects, I’ve got one more surprise! People keep asking me when I’m going to play some videogames again, and that can finally be answered: a couple friends and I have just created 10 Royal Games, a channel where we’ll be playing through all manner of games and shooting the shit on whatever strikes our fancy. We’re starting off with some very classic Zelda and some very fresh Metal Gear (first videos should hopefully be up tonight, and I’ll link them both here and on twitter), but feel free to suggest other stuff we could dive into, or topics you’d like us to bring up. It should be fun!

WELP, THAT COVERS ALL THE WORK STUFF. Now that I’ve sobered everyone up with serious discussion of my financial future, let’s soothe those weary brains with some ramblings about anime. And manga! And maybe some western cartoons! Hell, let’s just randomize the whole damn thing. RUNNING ‘EM DOWN.

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Fall 2015 Season Preview

It’s time! Time at last to start thinking about putting this lousy season behind us, time pick our heads up from the anime-parched earth and take a glimpse towards the horizon. Is that a mirage in the distance, taunting us with the thought of media sustenance? Are we doomed to wander this barren waste forever, continually lowering our standards until eventually we forget anime was anything more than a vehicle for monstergirls and pee jokes?

Nah, there’s some new shows coming out. Some of them look pretty good, too! We’ve got long-awaited manga adaptations, sequels to steady favorites, new entries in venerable franchises, and even some tasty-looking originals and wildcards. My overall bench isn’t terribly deep, but I’m confident I’ll be happy with at least a couple of them, and even outside of my picks, every season holds surprises.

As always, I won’t be running down every new show here – there’s vast selections of shows I know I’ll never be interested in, and even among those shows, if there are any standouts, I’ll hit them during preview week anyway. If you want the full list, you can check it out over on anicharthere, I’m just gonna break down what I’m excited about, along with maybe a reason or two to feel optimistic. So let’s get to it!

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Paranoia Agent – Episode 8

Paranoia Agent changed gears entirely this week, leaving Shonen Bat behind to tell a heartwarming story about suicide. This was definitely an unexpected choice, but the end result was wonderful – an almost self-contained vignette that basically established a small makeshift family, telling lots of great jokes in the process. It was witty and warm and endearingly awkward, pretty much nothing like Paranoia Agent as I’ve come to understand it. Apparently Satoshi Kon just had some loose ideas or something, and figured this was the place for them. Normally that’d be a problem narrative-wise, but this episode was so very good that I can’t complain, and Paranoia Agent’s spent so much time jumping between viewpoint characters already that it basically came off as a lighter but still vaguely coherent intermission piece. Fair enough, Paranoia Agent!

You can check out my full review at ANN, or my notes after the cut.

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight – Episode 8

Things sure aren’t looking good for our heroes now. Gelsadra reigns supreme, Tsubasa refuses to listen to anyone, Rui has given up hope, and Hajime is still holding off on taking action. It’s depressing, frankly – this season’s overall been much heavier than the first one, and this was the heaviest episode yet. It was also a really good one, of course, and gave me plenty to talk about, but man. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing our heroes have fun again, hopefully, eventually? I guess we’ll have to see.

You can check out my full writeup over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Classroom Crisis – Episode 9

Well, we finally hit Nagisa’s big “betrayal,” and it honestly felt kinda underwhelming. He didn’t actively help A-TEC, but his move here was more an incidental betrayal of convenience than a strong dramatic choice between friends and revenge. But I guess that’s somewhat reflective of Classroom Crisis’ fundamental strengths and weaknesses – it’s very strong when it comes to building these characters and putting them in a room together, but its ability to tell a tightly composed story isn’t the sharpest. I’d figured that was likely due to the need to add a bunch of nonsense anime diversions like the beach episode, but maybe this writer just isn’t as good with plotting as he is with writing people. Either way, this episode still worked nicely when it leaned into the show’s strengths, so I’m still fairly confident everything will turn out well in the end.

You can check out my full writeup over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Symphogear – Review

To the surprise of no one, it turns out I wrote up a review for good ol’ Symphogear. This show was a trip and a half, and I hope I was able to convey some of that in my text. It’s a little weird “evaluating” a show like Symphogear – I mean, metric-based evaluation is always weird, because art doesn’t really work that way, but with a show like Symphogear it’s even more difficult than usual. Normally, I can sort of fudge the reality that the intersection of narrative storytelling and aesthetic execution can only really be discussed in, well, discussion-oriented terms, and vaguely declare that one show is “better at what it’s trying to do” (relative to my valuation of the merit of its inherent goals etc etc) than another. But Symphogear is good because its story is a mess, so it’s a bit tougher to judge.

Anyway. Did my best. You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episodic notes below!

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A Silent Voice, Volume 1 – Review

And the manga reviews continue, this time with Oh God This Is So Uncomfortable Why Am I Reading This Why Do I Like Drama What Is Wrong With Me. A Silent Voice was one of the most teeth-clenchingly painful reads I’ve encountered lately, but that was only true because the story was told so damn well. The very strong dialogue paints characters in immediately humanizing strokes, making it all the more painful when awful stuff happens to them. Piercing character drama, why can’t I quit you.

You can check out my review over at ANN, or my chapter notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 8 in Review

Ah crap it’s Wednesday. Things were actually looking pretty dire for the week in review this time, considering Gatchaman Crowds took the week off. That’s basically the only show I’m watching weekly that lends itself to more than a shrugging gladiatorial up-or-down thumb, so with that out of the picture, what could I even talk about? Could I really spin Prison School and Monster Musume into four paragraphs of discussion? Maybe I could… maybe I could just talk about my favorite lunches of the week? Actually that’s not the worst idea, but either way, my worries ended up being unfounded, because this week I watched the entire first season of SYMPHOGEAAAAAAR.

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Paranoia Agent – Episode 7

Oh jeez what a surprise another phenomenal episode of Paranoia Agent. This show is so consistently excellent that it’s kind of a hassle to think of new ways to praise it – it possesses an absurd mastery of tone that’s expressed both through its visual language and disgustingly well-composed sound design, it’s got a distinct personality and clearly defined goals, and it occupies a thematic space that’s largely unchallenged by other television anime. The show remains a little emotionally distant, but I’ve come to expect that; at this point, I’m kind of getting the impression that Satoshi Kon doesn’t actually like people, but certainly finds them very interesting. Which is lucky for all of us, because dear god, he sure is a talented storyteller – I know he didn’t directly storyboard all of these episodes, but between the overall tonal consistency and stylistic echoes like his heroes consistently waking from maybe-dreams into maybe-realities, it’s clear he’s poured blood and sweat into this entire production. Keep it up, Paranoia Agent. You are a friggin’ marvel.

You can check out my full writeup here, or my episode notes below!

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