The Lost Village – Episode 9

The Lost Village continues to be hoeing the difficult road of simultaneously working as a weird self-destructive comedy and actual narrative, but I’d say it held the course pretty effectively this week. I was actually thinking Hayato was going to become something of the audience surrogate in the episode’s first half, and then suddenly his backstory knocked him straight over onto the Lovepon track. The unfortunate thing about horror mysteries is they eventually have to resolve, and making sense would only make The Lost Village worse, but I think its resolution is still keeping things funny enough to be a lot of fun. What a weird show this is.

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

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A Silent Voice, Volume 6 – Review

A Silent Voice just continues to be intimate and painful and heartfelt and all that juicy feely-weely stuff that kills me every time. This sixth volume actually pulled one of my favorite dramatic tricks, something I maybe first fell in love with while watching Evangelion – drawing back from the overt narrative momentum in order to spend some time exploring each individual character, and giving their own internal world the time and respect it deserves. Shoya’s fall is a perfect moment to cut the drama short, and the results are as consistently enlightening as they are heartbreaking. A Silent Voice is the best manga I’m reading, and dear lord does the upcoming movie ever have a high ceiling.

You can check out my in-depth review over at ANN, or my chapter notes below!

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Planetes – Episode 3

Early on in this episode, Tanabe challenges Hachimaki on his dreams of finding love, asking “why are all your fantasies like something out of a comic book?” It’s a funny line coming from her, considering their usual relationship – while Hachi is fundamentally a dreamer, he buries that nature under years of defensive cynicism. Tanabe, on the other hand, is all optimism and love and roses – she might think she’s more practical and mature than her lazy teammate, but her confidence and drive lack the tempering of experience. She is in Optimism Stage One, optimism untested by the harshness of the adult vacuum. And in this episode, that optimism runs up against one more frank reality of adult living – the fact that everyone dies.

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Space Battleship Yamato 2199 – Episode 1

I don’t really have any personal experience with Space Battleship Yamato, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge its influence. The original show came out in the mid-70s, and is credited for at least partially heralding a new anime boom, where shows specifically aimed at children were now joined by dramatic, long-form sci-fi epics courting an older audience. Its true influence might be somewhat disputed (Jonathan Clements, for example, theorizes its influence is so heralded partially because it happened to be in the right genre space to catch the eye of people writing the anime history books, a very reasonable critique), but it’s undeniable that many future creators were inspired by the adventures of the Yamato. Even Hideaki Anno states that the original Space Battleship Yamato is his favorite show, and the reason he initially pursued anime.

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UQ Holder!, Volume 5 – Review

My journey through Akamatsu’s latest continues with volume five. This one couldn’t quite match the either character or battle-based entertainment of the fourth volume, but it does seem like the manga at least has a solid platform to stand on now. There are definitely plenty of ways to give a story dramatic stakes even if your protagonists can’t really die, and Akamatsu seems to be figuring them out one at a time. It’s still not as compelling within its genre as something like My Hero Academia, which is basically the essence of good shounen, but I know Akamatsu has some smart ideas in there. I’m on for the ride.

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

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Spring 2016 – Week 8 in Review

Anime was good this week! Anime was extremely good this week! ANIME WAS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD THIS WEEK. Kiznaiver and JoJo each had their best episodes of the season, with Kiznaiver offering probably my favorite episode of any of these shows, and JoJo basically just synthesizing all of the things that have made Diamond is Unbreakable great. Concrete Revolutio was right up there as well, as Urobuchi penned one of the most pointed episodes the show has ever seen. And the rest of the lineup was not far behind – only The Lost Village and Luluco had weaker episodes this week, and I’m sure they’ll both survive. That’s enough summary! Let’s get right to it!!!

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One Piece – Volume 7

The battle against Don Krieg continues in One Piece’s seventh volume, hampered only by one small but somewhat significant problem – Don Krieg himself is not an intimidating villain or interesting character.

Part of this comes down to his fundamental design. If Krieg has any character or power-related gimmicks, they are “weapons and ruthlessness.” His personality is based on only looking out for himself, which somewhat works in the context of this particular arc, but doesn’t make for a particularly engaging character. And his battle tricks lack the unique style or cohesion of Kuro and Buggy – he’s just a guy in a big metal suit who shoots a lot of cannonballs.

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Flying Witch – Episode 7

Flying Witch upped the ante a bit this week. The episode’s first half was pretty much exactly the sort of competent, easy-going rural adventures I’ve come to expect, but the second half leaned into the show’s magical premise in a way that conveyed a far more textured and ambiguous tone. There were elements of mystery, danger, and wonder in Makoto and her friends’ exploration of the very strange cafe, sub-threads that made it hard not to compare to Miyazaki’s stuff. I’d really like to see more of that going forward, but I’m happy enough with this episode as it is.

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

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Kiznaiver – Episode 7

Kiznaiver had its strongest episode of the season this week… in fact, Kiznaiver aside, I think this was just the strongest episode of anything I’ve watched this season. The show has often been a little clumsy in its emotional beats, but you wouldn’t have guessed that from this episode – this one was understated and beautiful and full of smart visual metaphors and purely tone-focused segments. Maki’s story turned out to be a lot more relatable than I’d expected; her fears and resultant feelings of guilt were totally understandable, and the episode did a great job of visually conveying the world she occupied. I was legit tearing up a bit by the end of this one – this kind of beautifully realized melancholy and slight emotional catharsis is exactly the kind of thing I love. Even if the rest of the show stays a little sketchy, I’m happy we got this.

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

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The Lost Village – Episode 8

This was sadly a fairly normal episode of The Lost Village – not in that it was an average episode of this particular show, but in that it was a believable episode of an ordinary horror story. Well, as long as you discount the weird, self-destructive genre-awareness expressed during the Masaki interrogation. Aside from that, basically everything that happened here could really have happened in an ordinary show, which is pretty disappointing relative to what I generally expect from The Lost Village. Well, you can’t win ’em all.

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

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