For My Sisters, For Myself: Tsubasa Tiger

Tsubasa Tiger could be seen as the first ending of Monogatari, the moment when one of its central figures finally graduates from their apparition’s pain. Of course, in Monogatari, there’s no “escaping” your troubles. Oshino frames the inevitability of psychic pain, and the ways that pain is linked to our fundamental identities, as “we can only save ourselves.” In her audio drama letter to Black Hanekawa, Hanekawa frames this inevitability a little differently. When we tell the story of our pain, we tell the story of ourselves. Raised in a broken home, Hanekawa has herself become a broken home. She finds herself unusual and condemnable, but her story of familial abuse and emotional abnegation only reflects her profound, undeniable human worth.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 23

March comes in like a lion returns more with a whimper than a bang, dutifully walking us through two low-key chapters at the newly founded shogi/science club. This material was charming enough, and was certainly executed with plenty of visual flair, but felt totally misplaced as the first episode of a new season. It’s unfortunate that the show’s grand return is kinda undercut by its long-term structural issues, but as far as execution goes, these were definitely some nicely animated chapters. I’m sure the show’s production will fall apart again soon, but I’ll savor this while it lasts!

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below.

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Just Because! – Episodes 1-2

The first two episodes of Just Because! were straight-up phenomenal, and I’m very excited to be writing about the show. As per usual for a first post, I focused this writeup more on sketching the overall style and goals of the show, rather than prioritizing an examination of the actual narrative events, and I’m pretty happy with the results. I hope you enjoy the piece!

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode two notes below.

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Chihayafuru – Episode 13

Let’s get right the heck back to Chihayafuru! Last episode covered pretty much the entire transition from the end of the club’s first tournament to the beginning of the second one, bringing the whole gang closer together and proving their dedication to their faculty advisor along the way. Chihaya’s breakneck pacing is certainly one of its greatest strengths, and I’m actually even more excited for this tournament than the last one. The club’s first tournament was largely dedicated to actually proving their ability to function as a team – with that soundly accomplished, I’m guessing this next tournament will be the first one that hews to a more traditional sports structure, full of ominous opponents and thrilling faceoffs.

The thing I’m most looking forward to seeing is the show demonstrate that karuta really can support a sports narrative’s dramatic weight. I know that’s an odd thing to question twelve episodes in, but the show so far has leaned heavily on personal drama over sports drama, and in spite of that, has still burned through a worrying number of easy tactical setups. The show’s done a great job keeping karuta interesting so far, but I’m still worried the sport just doesn’t have the complexity to offer fresh-feeling conflicts all the way through. But everybody loves Chihayafuru, so I’m excited to see just how it solves that problem. Let’s get to it!

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Three Leaves, Three Colors – Review

Today I’ve got a review of one the past few years’ more unassuming slice of lifes, a show that likely flew under the radar for non-Dogakobo stalwarts. Three Leaves, Three Colors wasn’t the greatest show ever, but it was pleasant enough, and I enjoyed my time with it. As I’ve said, one of my favorite things about reviewing anime is I feel less guilty about these random comfort watches – I can enjoy a modest show to its fullest, knowing I’m actually spending my time well. As someone who’s beset with all sorts of anxieties, it’s a very nice feeling!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Flip Flappers – Episode 3

Flip Flappers’ second episode saw Papika and Cocona entering the fanciful world of a rabbit’s mind. From their rabbit ears and tufted tails to the world around them, everything echoed the internal world of Cocona’s rabbit Uexkill, and even the girls themselves were not immune. An urge to chew on everything reflected both Cocona’s personal repression and the desires of Uexkill, while the landscape around them undulated vaguely, offering no more definition than Uexkill could conceive. After that wild adventure, the girls quickly jumped into another Pure Illusion – but unlike episode two, it seems like this world reflects Cocona’s own psychology. So what is Cocona’s mind like?

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Fall 2017 – Virtually Every First Episode Retrospective

A new anime season has begun! As it turns out, in spite of last season’s incredibly tepid lineup, the reports of anime’s demise were greatly exaggerated. This season is looking to easily be the strongest of the year overall, and likely one of the best single seasons in the past several years. Offering phenomenal shows in a wide variety of genres, a strong mix of sequels, originals, and adaptations, and an absurdly deep bench, Fall 2017 looks to be one for the record books. After a season where my weekly diet was “Made in Abyss and Tsuredure Children,” it feels nice to actually have to pick and choose what I have time to watch.

As usual, my work on ANN’s preview guide has given me an exhaustingly full perspective on the season’s offerings, and so I’m here today to rank my selections from the highest highs to the lowest lows. I’ll be grouping shows by vague, perhaps even meaningless tiers, and trying to offer a brief summation of my overall feelings. All of these titles will also have links to the guide itself, so if you want my more extended and theoretically professional critiques, click on through and search for Nick Creamer. Let’s start at the top and run this season down!

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Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 22

Let’s get back to Ojamajo Doremi! Our last episode didn’t really see the story moving all that much, as Ruka’s diabolical magic goods didn’t actually result in any negative consequences, at least for her personally. We’re still at the point where Rika is acting as an annoying freeloader, the girls are trying to figure out some way to beat Ruka, and the moral lessons are temporarily on hold. I’ve enjoyed this change of pace well enough, but Ruka’s story frankly hasn’t been interesting enough to measure up to the show’s usual episodic fare. I’m ready for Ruka to get her just desserts, and hope one of our heroes has a real plan this time. Let’s get right to it!

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Fall 2017 – First Impressions, Part Two

Preview week is trying to kill me. There were eleven separate premieres yesterday, and we’ve somehow got more hell week to come. None of that matters to you guys, though – all you have to deal with are the desperate, bloodstained fruit of my endless labor. As it turns out, this particular preview week is revealing one of the most promising seasons we’ve had in years, and I’ve got previews of all the new contenders ready for your perusal. You can check out the full list of shows over at ANN, or find my scores and links to individual previews down below. Please enjoy!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 24

At last, it’s time for the final episode of Casshern Sins. Casshern’s long journey has taken him through countless miles of wasteland, and introduced him to dozens of people who’ve all shaped his view on the world. From not understanding his past or his purpose, Casshern has come to terms with his own nature, and learned to appreciate the beauty of our finite existence. Casshern has met and rejected Luna, and gained friends who’ve come to love him for who he is. Outside of Casshern himself, Lyuze, Ringo, and Ohji all seem to have found a kind of peace in this world, while even Dio and Leda have come to understand themselves. The final figures of the old world, Luna and Braiking Boss, now stand as sentinels over the new. Let’s see where this story ends.

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