Casshern Sins – Episode 9

And we’re back to Casshern Sins! Last episode presented one more glimmer of hope, in the form of the singer Janice. More than just giving Casshern something new to care about, Janice offered him something he’d never had before – a reason to fight. Janice’s questions solidified one of Casshern’s core contradictions: he is designed to fight and destroy, but he has no interest in doing such things. Because of this, Casshern’s natural programming only tends to kick in when he’s in such personal danger his circuits won’t allow otherwise. But if Casshern could actually find something worth defending, something to fight for that could last like he does, he might arrive at some sort of peace.

That said, we’re only eight episodes in, so I’m expecting a whole lot more suffering before Casshern finds anything that might fit the bill. So let’s get right to it!

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Volume 4 – Review

Welp, fell a bit behind in my Magus reviews, so here we are. The manga is maintaining a strong balance of fantastical digressions and sturdy character-focused material, and continuing to have a solid grip on the compelling weirdness of Chise and Elias’ relationship. I’m pretty happy with my review of this one, so head on over and check it out!

The Ancient Magus Bride, Volume 4

March comes in like a lion – Episode 18

March returned to its usual level of execution this week, but was still a generally good time, and still had a couple nice visual highlights. Shimada continues to be a remarkably welcome addition to the cast, to the point where he already feels like one of the main characters. I’m still looking forward to whenever Rei actually visits the sisters again, though, and am guessing Akari will have some interesting words for him next week.

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

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Seiren – Episode 7

I had virtually nothing to gawk at in this week’s Seiren, which was certainly a change of pace. Instead, this was just a remarkably grounded and overall successful slice of adolescent romance – understandable conflicts, multidimensional characters, and satisfying resolutions. I was pretty surprised! I certainly don’t mind, though – if Seiren permanently jumps from a weird oddity to a reasonable show, I’d be very happy.

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

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Why It Works: Dragon Maids and Magical Realism

For this week’s Why It Works I returned to Maidragon, and dug into the specific kind of fantasy world the show presents. Magical realism is actually one of my favorite kinds of fantasy, and though its greatest exemplar in anime is likely The Eccentric Family, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is pretty great too. I hope you enjoy the piece!

Why It Works: Dragon Maids and Magical Realism

Natsume’s Book of Friends – Episode 3

Natsume himself is the focus of this third episode. As we open, twilight colors and suburban sprawl return us to Natsume’s childhood, as he cries over his strangeness beneath a playground slide. As he laments his isolation, a girl comes up to console him, and asks the question he most wants to hear: “can you see them too?” Perhaps Natsume is not so alone after all.

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Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 14

Mawaru Penguindrum’s fourteenth episode has sex on the brain. After a cold open revealing the last of Yuri’s performances, we cut to Yuri and her costar in a private moment, where we learn that the hero of Yuri’s play is actually a heroine. Their sexuality is emphasized here to the point of performance, and their words feel like theater as well – Yuri’s partner seems to feel no embarrassment tossing off lines like “you can only share this feeling with another woman.” Happy to play the role of callous seductress, Yuri plainly states that “I’ve grown tired of you,” and abandons her lover. And after we hear a strange hint about Yuri’s “secret,” she drives off, leaving her paramour behind.

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Bakemonogatari – Episode 5

We’re back with the end of Mayoi Snail, and I’m back with another episode post that’s basically an essay in its own right. What can I say – Bakemonogatari steadily introduces pretty much all of the concepts that will become pillars of the franchise, and so there’s a whole lot to dig into. This time we get more on the strange nature of Mayoi arcs, a fair bit about Araragi’s personality, and plenty on Senjougahara as well. Let’s get right to it!

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

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Winter 2017 – First Half in Review

The season halfway point has arrived at last! In spite of early speculation by certain disreputable parties, the winter season hasn’t fallen on its face, and is actually turning out to be stronger than last winter. It’s still certainly a weaker season, but for some reason that’s just how winters tend to be – and given I’m supplementing this season’s offerings with regular injections of unfair additions like Planetes and Nichijou, I can’t really complain. But today, it’s all about the winter shows, as I commence the seasonal tradition of ranking everything I’m watching at the exact point those rankings are least likely to be meaningful. Theoretically, this is supposed to reflect the fundamental pointlessness of constructing hierarchical rankings of art in general – in practice, it’s more like most other traditions: I do it because I started doing it and I’ve been doing it for a while and goddamnit if I’m gonna stop now. So let’s start right at the top and run this season down!

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10 Best Anime to Watch on Valentine’s Day

Yep, got another list for you! This time we’re celebrating the year’s most ruthless holiday with a bunch of romances, covering a wide range of love stories gone wrong and right. It was fun curating this list, though I probably should have included Wandering Son a second time, since the hetero is a bit overwhelming with this one. I tried to at least create a solid balance of romances from both male and female perspectives, and in a variety of subgenres – the one other area I’d have liked would be fewer high school shows, but I’ll be damned before Clannad shows up on one of these things. Gotta have some principles.

10 Best Anime to Watch on Valentine’s Day