Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 4

Hey everybody! I’d say it’s right about time for a bit more Ojamajo Doremi. The world is a scary place, and sometimes it’s hard to bear with all of it at once, so it’s nice to take a breather with a show with such an upbeat tone and such positive intentions. I remember how when I was an emo teen, I’d scoff at media that embraces positivity as thoroughly as this, since I felt it was “lying” in some unacceptable way. At this point I’ve accepted how crucial it is to bring our own positivity to the world, and great children’s shows are one wonderful way to do that. So let’s dig right in and see what’s going on in Doremi’s world of kinda crappy witches.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 14

March had another middling episode this week, which it feels sad to admit is what I’ve come to expect. The show’s fundamental material is still strong, but it could certainly have used a more courageous adaptation. Sequences like this episode’s first half clearly didn’t demand a full half episode in adaptation form, and the show’s visual motifs are starting to feel kind of abused as well. Still a fan, but it’s certainly not the show it could be.

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

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Seiren – Episodes 1-3

Today I start my streaming reviews for this season’s weirdest of harem-things, Seiren. Seiren isn’t actually good, but it’s at least pretty strange, which is certainly better than boring. I do wish these shows would start including protagonists who have at least a smidgen of personality, but I suppose that would limit their usefulness as audience proxies, so this is what we get. I’ve certainly watched worse shows!

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

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Why It Works: Nick’s Picks for Winter 2017

Today on Why It Works, I establish one of those most reliable of column structures: a seasonal tradition. With all the premieres accounted for, I figured the Crunchyroll audience might also appreciate some recommendations for navigating the new crop. If I were writing this article right now, I’d probably also include Tanya, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to rep that awful little show eventually. Here’s the piece!

Why It Works: Nick’s Picks for Winter 2017

Nichijou – Episode 22

The Niching Hour has returned again. See, it’s like the Witching Hour, but for Nichijou. Look, you don’t pay me for great puns, you pay me to say “WHAAAAA YUUKO NOOOO.” And I take that responsibility very seriously!

Anyway, yes, it is time for Nichijou. I’ve only got five precious episodes left, but I’m honestly feeling more at peace with that than I did before – after all, Nichijou seems like one of the most rewatchable comedies imaginable. Comedy in general relies heavily on the element of surprise, but Nichijou’s comic fundamentals are so strong that I’ll certainly still enjoy it even knowing where skits are going. Just need to pace myself!

But for now, let’s savor one more episode fresh out of the oven. Adjust your collars, fluff your pillows, and sit back for one more NICHIJOU.

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Planetes – Episode 21

Planetes’ twenty-first episode is called “Tandem Mirror.” It’s an appropriate name for this episode, which focuses on both Locksmith’s great invention in an overt narrative sense and also on various other mirrors in a metaphorical one. Both the gleaming new Von Braun and the tandem mirror of the original, wrecked craft come into play this episode, but this episode also investigates how members of Planetes’ cast mirror each other in a variety of ways. How Hachi and Tanabe still have so much in common, even as they’re drifting apart. How Hachi is still haunted by his own reflection, in spite of succeeding in getting on the Von Braun. And how Hachi isn’t mirrored by those he’d once believed in, like his rival and ambiguous friend Hakim.

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Bakemonogatari – Episode 1

This season, Classic Reviews return with one of my all-time favorite series! I’m betting it’ll be a lot of fun to revisit Bake after all this time, and the first episode didn’t let me down. Bake’s premiere is strange and confident and entirely its own thing, offering many fragmented hooks while seemingly ignoring many other pieces of important information. It’s a solid statement of purpose, and I had a whole bunch to write about it.

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

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The Secret of Studio SHAFT

It’s time for another big one! Today I dive into studio SHAFT, exploring a number of the things that set the studio apart. From the history of their current incarnation to their stylistic proclivities and key creators, this is a broad look at one of anime’s most singular studios. It was actually pretty fun doing the research for this one, and I was significantly helped by our recent glut of excellent creators interviews. I hope you enjoy the piece!

The Secret of Studio Shaft

Winter 2017 – Week 2 in Review

This week in anime was… look, I’m barely watching anything this season. ACCA and Interviews with Monster Girls are the only non-Rakugo show I’m not both watching and covering for ANN, and that second one’s already kind of on the borderline. If the season continues at this pace, it seems likely we’ll be at This Week in Rakugo before too long. That’s not actually the worst thing! I’ve probably said it before, but I’m much happier with a show or two I really love than a bunch of “watchable entertainment” I’d be comfortable skipping. My media consumption tends to reflect that – I make top ten lists and whatnot, but as an “anime fan,” I’m probably only a fan of 2-3% of what the medium puts out, and could take or leave the rest. That’s not to say I’m a more refined consumer or anything, it mostly just means I understand that some seasons aren’t going to have much for me to talk about. I’ll figure out if I should adjust my schedule for the season at some point (“Week 6: the award for best Rakugo goes to Rakugo”), but for now, let’s run down this season’s slimmest of pickings!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 6

I think we may be in it now. Last episode saw Casshern Sins embracing narrative continuity for the first time, bringing back a handful of characters from earlier episodes in order to answer a couple questions and set up some dramatic dominoes. The nature of Luna is still unclear, but Casshern’s nature is becoming a bit more concrete – he was used as an agent of violence, he could not necessarily control his actions, and his tendency towards violence seems to take over his body altogether.

That episode also saw Casshern represented as a figure of both ruin and salvation, bringing Ruin upon this world but also standing ready to sacrifice himself to pay for his crimes. This show’s symbolism often feels more concrete than its narrative, so I’ll be keeping an eye on everything I can as we continue our adventure into ruin. Let’s get to it!

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