The Loneliness of Denpa-teki na Kanojo

I’m a big fan of stories about people who are in a bad place. Characters who distrust the world around them, or who have been hurt in some way that makes it impossible for them to see good in others. Stories about characters put against the wall, who struggle against difficult but understandable odds. Many of my favorite shows fall in this range, from fantastical stuff like Madoka and Evangelion to the more mundane struggles of Oregairu or Monogatari. The characters in these shows have been hurt by the world, and so they can’t trust that the world will ever extend a hand back.

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Flying Witch – Episode 4

Flying Witch introduced another new character this week – Inukai, the young witch with the supreme misfortune of being Akane’s drinking buddy. Her story was funny and endearing all the way through, making for another fine installment in what may well be this season’s most consistent show. It’s solid source material being adapted with level professionalism in a genre that doesn’t really need to take huge structural risks – it’s enjoyable to watch and enjoyable to write about, a fine time all around.

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

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The Lost Village – Episode 5

The Lost Village convinced me it was an intentional comedy this week, because quite frankly, I couldn’t really imagine the show being this funny if it wasn’t trying to. The show is just too well-constructed as a comedy – there are too many intentionally funny non-sequiturs and deliberate punchlines, too many clever setups and clear running jokes. It’s legitimately one of the most consistently effective anime comedies I’ve seen; basically everything it does lands for me. I wasn’t expecting The Lost Village to be this particular show, but I’m very happy to have it.

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

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Episode 10

“I / I am a time bomb, and I / I only live in that one moment in which you die.”
The Dismemberment Plan

Episode ten opens with the arrival of a new student – Homura Akemi, a shy girl with braided hair who’s been isolated in the hospital due to a heart condition. She doesn’t say much, but it’s clear through her defensive body language that she’s uncomfortable, and not used to interacting with lots of people. Fortunately, she’s saved from the questions of her curious classmates by Madoka, a smiling girl who leads her to the nurse’s office. Though Homura is so insecure she turns everything into an insult towards herself, Madoka is kind to her, and attempts to draw her out of her shell. The contrast between the confident and outgoing Madoka and the nervous, lonely Homura is striking.

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Nana – Episode 1

I’ve actually been looking forward to getting to this episode for a while now. Nana is one of those rare unicorns of anime – an adaptation of a josei manga, the manga designation that in my mind might as well just mean “good manga.” Shounen manga are aimed at boys, shoujo manga are aimed at girls, and seinen manga are… well, generally aimed at adult boys. The seinen label rarely conveys actual maturity – it’s more the adolescent veneer of maturity, stories with lots of blood and guts but often even less to say about people or the world than their shounen counterparts.

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Love Live! S2 – Review

Yep, I finally got around to reviewing Love Live S2’s physical release. The show pretty much stuck to its same strengths and weaknesses in the second season, leaning even more heavily into its strong dorky comedy early on, falling once more into unearned and overplayed drama in the last act. It’s not a truly great show, but it’s an extremely enjoyable one, and that’s a fine thing to be. Love Live is basically the default idol show – fun and polished, perhaps just a bit impersonal, but still a very endearing time overall. I hope Sunshine can live up to the original’s legacy.

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

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Spring 2016 – Week 4 in Review

God damn is this ever a season of anime. I keep trying to drop shows, but they all keep being too entertaining. And now I check out Macross Delta and find out that’s a lot of fun, too? I really wouldn’t have minded one or two of these shows back a season ago, but it’s also great to log on twitter and see people enjoying such a wide variety of new anime. Even this season’s ambiguous productions are generally coming up solid – Kiznaiver had its strongest episode yet this week, and other borderline stuff like Haifuri is executing well, even if it’s not exactly my thing. It’s a fine time for watching too goddamn many cartoons, so let’s start at the top and RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Episode 9

Madoka Magica’s ninth episode opens with a terrible transformation, as the witch that was Sayaka Miki takes form. Not yet aware of the true nature of witches, Kyouko fights back against this new creature, asking what it did with her friend. But even if the audience hadn’t figured out the truth by now, Kyubey has finally spilled the beans.

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Flying Witch – Episode 3

Flying Witch had another fine episode this week, one that set up a nicely specific contrast between the beauty of rural life and the wonder of Makoto’s magic. The show is achieving a good balance so far, where the magic is understated enough to not dominate the production, and the farming and cooking and whatnot are all compelling enough to keep things moving as well. The cast has a great chemistry, the tone is consistently on point, and the humor isn’t always consistent, but still keeps things charming throughout. I would happily watch a slice of life this good every single season.

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

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Kiznaiver – Episode 3

Kiznaiver went a long ways towards alleviating my main concerns in its third episode. The important thing here was that in contrast to the first two episodes’ big, bold declarations of feelings, this one had some legitimately sharp incidental character writing. Obviously Mari Okada is perfectly capable of sculpting fully realized characters, but the first two episodes made me worried this whole show was going to exist at a ridiculously heightened emotional revelation tenor, and this episode avoided that entirely. I’m happy to see this sensitivity and restraint, and I hope it keeps up until the show decides to punch us in the face with emotions again.

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

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