Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 16

Mawaru Penguindrun’s sixteenth episode is goofy as hell.

That’s not really unusual for an Ikuhara show. Just like how his dramas juxtapose grounded, universal themes like gender identity and social ostracization with ornate, melodramatic framing, so too does he often mix his serious material and his absurd comedy. Ikuhara does not believe tone must match dramatic intent in the way, say, a director like Hiroshi Nagahama (Mushishi, The Flowers of Evil) might. The real world often splices comedy and tragedy, so why shouldn’t our fabrications do the same? It’s a style that takes some getting used to, but ultimately it’s quite possible to see the comedy as compatible with the drama, or even a way of underlying the fundamental absurdity of the world.

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Why It Works: Introducing The Eccentric Family

The Eccentric Family posts start in earnest this week, opening with a piece bringing all those who missed the first season up to speed. Convincing an audience raised on titans and punch men to watch the second season of a slow-burning drama about the importance of family is a pretty tall order, but I gotta do what I can. The Eccentric Family deserves nothing less!

Why It Works: Introducing The Eccentric Family

Casshern Sins – Episode 13

And we’re back for more Casshern Sins! The last episode was an absolutely terrific one, as Casshern’s brief friendship with a painter offered a clear portrait of how far our hero has come. Casshern’s journey out of purposelessness has felt almost like a classic escape from depression – from cursing his nature and not seeing any point in his own survival, he’s come to find great value and even joy in the world around him. The world is sculpting Casshern, and even in a place this destitute, it’s giving him reasons to live. Let’s see what he runs into this time!

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Natsume’s Book of Friends – Episode 7

Natsume is not the main character of his show’s seventh episode. As the episode opens, we see a white summer hat abandoned in the forest, accompanied by a voice that seems excited to see it. Treating the hat as a strange kind of friend, the voice wonders “is no one going to come pick you up? You’re so pretty.” The view opens up, and we see the bearer of this voice is a young fox in human form. “I’ll show you to Mom,” he says, and then we learn his mother has passed away. This fox’s only friend is the discarded treasure of a human. Like Natsume’s faded shrines and disused railway stations, even the things we abandon can become precious to someone.

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Tsuki ga Kirei – Episodes 1-3

Man, this show is going to be a lot of fun to write about. It’s pretty much brimming with all the small, well-observed details of human interaction that make Kyoto Animation shows so special, and it’s also got a lovely sense of humor that occasionally dunks on its cast without ever feeling judgmental. It’s really just charming and well-constructed all around. If you’re not watching it, check it out!

You can read my full review of the first three episodes over at ANN, or my episode three notes below.

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Spring 2017 – Week 2 in Review

Dear lord has this season ever begun. Having just barely survived the most absurd preview week yet, my relative watch-positioning on this season’s various attractions is an absolute shambles. I’ve got shows I’m already somehow two episodes behind on, shows I just reviewed this week for ANN, and shows that ended weeks ago and I only just now found time to watch. In light of that, I’m gonna be keeping things a little loose for this Week in Review, and just running down what I actually watched this week in whatever order comes to me. It’s been a hectic week in anime, so buckle the fuck in and let’s RUN THIS SHIT DOWN.

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The Eccentric Family 2 – Episodes 1-2

Aw hell yeah, it’s time to write up some Eccentric Family. Season two’s first couple episodes have mostly just established our two big additions to the cast, but that’s pretty alright by me – it’s been wonderful to meet all these great characters again, and already interesting to see how their society has shifted since last time. The show’s own throat-clearing allowed for a pretty comfortably structured article too, so I guess that’s nice.

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

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Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 9

It’s time for more Ojamajo Doremi! Last episode saw Doremi finally passing the level nine witch exam, in spite of making every terrible choice possible on the way there. There were no extenuating circumstances like when she had to help Pop this time – Doremi is just pretty bad at doing things, and so most of her time in the witch world was spent sampling cakes and getting lost. Still, she at least did demonstrate that she’s pretty good at riddles, which is certainly a talent of sorts. Let’s see what nonsense she gets up to this time!

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Volume 6 – Review

Today I’m back with the latest Ancient Magus’ Bride. This one’s a bit of a mixed bag – the fantastical adventures are as strong as ever, but Alice’s story felt like it was held down by the author’s awkwardly vague impression of what her life might actually be like. Still, I can’t blame the author too much for trying to write beyond her comfort zone. And the second half is still pretty great!

The Ancient Magus Bride – Volume 6

Why It Works: Nick’s Picks for Spring ’17

Today on Why It Works, I once again parlay my forced familiarity with this entire new season into a series of speedy recommendations. My choices here shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who’s read the retrospective, but hey, gotta make sure all potential audiences are hearing the good anime news. Here’s the piece!

Why It Works: Nick’s Picks for Spring ’17