Genshiken Second Season, Volume 11 – Review

Today I reviewed Genshiken Second Season’s latest volume, which was… acceptable? I no longer expect genius from what I once considered my favorite manga series, but this volume definitely had some of the awkwardly true-to-life conflicts and conversations that once made this series so great. Flashes of greatness are okay by me!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Why It Works: The Reach of our Hands

Today on Crunchyroll, I returned to March comes in like a lion to plot out the biggest thematic thread of its most recent arc. Considering how long and well-observed Rei’s initial journey out of total dependence was, it makes sense that the show dedicates equal care to demonstrating how even when we want to help others, we’re often not really able to do that much. Rei’s Newcomer Tournament match managed to hinge on that concept while simultaneously offering a satisfying win for Rei, which was a very tricky balance. March is just a remarkably solid show altogether.

The Reach of Our Hands

Chihayafuru – Episode 20

Let’s dive right back in to Chihayafuru! Episode nineteen was definitely one of the show’s best so far, showcasing two riveting matches between the four non-Chihaya members of the main team. All four of these characters have become strong enough to carry matches through their own dramatic weight, and though Nishida’s style likely still needs a bit more texturing, all three of the others have developed distinctive and engaging specialties. Tsutomu’s mix of anxiety and opponent analysis make for tense and easily followed matches, Kana’s focus on the narrative of the cards makes her sequences some of the most visually creative of the overall show, and Taichi’s mastery of memorization and constant self-analysis can make it physically painful to watch him fight. I’d be happy to see any of them headline a match again soon.

The show’s likely going to change gears a bit now that their current tournament is over, but Chihayafuru is so fast-paced that I have to imagine we’re only half an episode away from whatever the next match will be. Is it finally time for Arata to rejoin the narrative? Either way, I am extremely ready for some more Chihayafuru!

Continue reading

Just Because! – Episode 10

This was a pretty routine episode of Just Because!, though I might just be saying that because the big focus scene this time was centered on Hazuki and Haruto, and neither of those people are Ena. Regardless, it offered that same blend of grounded romance and melancholy that has been the show’s most consistent export, and things really do seem to be coming towards a satisfying close. Just Because! remains an unassumingly excellent character drama.

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

Continue reading

Wandering Son – Episode 11

Wandering Son’s final episode bears the apt title “Forever a Wandering Son.” ‘Wandering’ carries a very different connotation from the more straightforward ‘journeying’ or ‘travelling.’ Wandering implies there isn’t necessarily some set destination, and that sometimes our path may cross right back over itself, or bring us somewhere wholly unexpected. To wander is to seek without certainty, to embrace the journey for its own sake. Personal identity is just such a journey, and it’s not something that comes with a clear starting and ending point. We wander in search of our happiest selves, but it’s only by embracing that wandering as its own natural state that we can truly hope to be happy.

Continue reading

Fall 2017 – Week 10 in Review

It feels like all of these great shows are now just jostling to remind me exactly how great they are, right before the season ends and we’re all left in the winter void. March comes in like a lion rose to a dramatic crescendo, Land of the Lustrous had one of its most visually jaw-dropping episodes yet, and even Love Live Sunshine managed to shake off its recent woes and deliver a strong performance. With Recovery of an MMO Junkie already taking its bow, we’re really in the final days now – and with the end of the year prompting me to write way too many final lists, I’m getting even more reminders of how good this season is. Considering Land of the Lustrous is likely to be one of my future go-to gateway shows, I can’t really complain about all this anime ending strong. Let’s instead celebrate it while it’s here, and run this week’s episodes down!

Continue reading

Simoun – Episode 4

Let’s return to the fantastical Simoun! With the first three episodes in the bag, we’ve established a solid dramatic platform for the show to come. Neviril’s misgivings about her role as a priestess were given plenty of room to breathe in the show’s compelling second episode, while the somewhat more straightforward third episode gave us a clearer picture of the overall team. Some initial character conflicts are clear enough already, and there’s a well-founded divide between the new cadets, who all seem eager to prove themselves, and the old guard, who are still dumbstruck by the idea that their guardianship is no longer just ceremonial.

On top of the overt narrative, we’ve also got the show’s intriguing mix of gender and overall societal critique, a far-reaching metaphor that, in spite of its fanciful details and general creative ambition, ultimately helps ground the show in some universal thematic conflicts. I’m very intrigued by this show’s world, but for all that stuff to land, we’ll first have to be sold on its central cast. So let’s jump right in, and see if this ragtag bunch can come together into a real team!

Continue reading

My Monster Secret, Volume 6 – Review

My Monster Secret maintained its usual shenanigans this volume, keeping to a comfy stasis as these romcoms always tend to. It’s just fun spending time with this cast though, so I didn’t really mind – and it actually does seem like the characters are moving somewhat closer to romance, even if it’s at a predictably glacial pace. But hey, stories like this are about the journey, and the journey here is populated by charming characters and lots of silly faces. That’s not so bad.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Why It Works: The Ugliness of War in Juni Taisen

Today on Crunchyroll, I broke down the various ways Juni Taisen makes its visions of war tangibly horrific. War stories always have to manage a difficult balance of portraying violence without glorifying it, and Juni Taisen feels more dedicated than most such stories to emphasizing that war is brutish and inhumane, and that its violence is often less awe-inspiring than mercilessly sudden and utterly final. I hope you enjoy the piece!

The Ugliness of War in Juni Taisen

Just Because! – Episode 9

The kids are doing their friggin’ best in this week’s Just Because! The show remained as consistently acute and endearing as ever this time, with Ena in particular getting a serious bounty of charming new material. I feel a little sorry for Mopey Mio, but look, Ena’s the one out there putting the hard romcom hours into this relationship. If Mio wants a doomed adolescent romance, she’s gonna have to shape up quick.

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

Continue reading