Summer 2014 – Week 3 in Review

Welp, we’re a third of the way into the season now, and this season’s looking pretty damn predictable. The top shows continue to impress, the speculative picks have pretty much all fallen off the wagon, and Barakamon stands alone as the one surprise hit. It’s looking like I’ll be reduced to my usual half-dozen shows a little quicker than usual this season, which may just mean I’m getting better at dropping things efficiently, but I’m not really complaining. All I need is a couple standouts to be happy, and this season’s certainly got those – let’s run them down!

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Sword Art Online II – Episode 3

And the journey continues! Last week’s episode was far and away the best thing Sword Art Online has ever done, so I’ve got moderate hopes for this one. ‘Moderate’ because last week pulled basically the most obvious and necessary trick for fixing Sword Art Online – it removed Kirito entirely. This, tragically, is apparently not allowed to be a long-term solution, so this week the challenge will likely be in maintaining last week’s energy without Kirito dragging everything into his power fantasy vortex. Fortunately, last week’s episode was also just well-composed and featured a number of solid action sequences, and that sort of stuff can work perfectly well even with Kirito around. And so, for maybe the very first time, positive thinking isn’t just a coping mechanism – things might really actually possibly turn out okay. Let’s do this, Sword Art Online. It’s a beautiful new day.

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Summer 2014 – First Impressions, Part Two

And with the second week complete, all our new challengers have appeared! I’m very happy with this week’s performance - though none of my speculative picks really impressed me, the two shows I was most excited for either picked up the slack (in Aldnoah’s case) or started off with a bang (Zankyou no Terror). The roster isn’t looking deep this season, but if the highlights can keep up this level of quality, I’ll be content either way.

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The Rising Tide: Madoka Rebellion and Communal Culture

“And I / I disowned my / own family
All for love / All for love.”
The Lake - Typhoon

Madoka Rebellion

I’ve been planning on writing about Madoka Rebellion for a long time now, but Rebellion really hasn’t made it easy for me. It’s a strange beast – both reflective of Madoka Magica and totally apart from it, a continuation in some ways, a betrayal in others. Though you can certainly critique it as a film in its own right, it only really unfolds when you put it in context – and when a film’s context is “an emerging sea change in the process of media engagement,” it can be kinda hard to sum up the film as Good or Bad! If you’re looking for a simple takeaway, I believe Rebellion is a beautiful film and a terrible sequel – but why that is, and what its existence actually reflects, will take a little unpacking to explain. To understand Rebellion, you really have to understand Madoka Magica - so let’s begin there, with the series that started it all.

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Sword Art Online II – Episode 2

Time for more Sword Art Online! That first episode was pretty slow, but hopefully this time we’ll get to jump right into Gun Gale and see some bullet ballet or whatnot. I sincerely hope that lightsaber-versus-sniper rifle image was just an artistic flourish, but hey, some people go with sniper rifles on every goddamn map in real life, too. And once again, I request that everybody who’s read the LNs please try to avoid spoiling every single thing I theorize or discuss. It is okay to let me be wrong until the story informs me!

Anyway. Let’s Sword Art Online.

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Summer 2014 – First Impressions, Part One

Summer is here! A wonderful time to hide on your computer and watch cartoons so other people don’t have to. This first week has had some hits and some misses, but overall it’s looking like I’ll have a healthy mix of genres to replace our dear departed Ping Pong. Let’s run down some first episodes!

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Rough Notes Archive: Revolutionary Girl Utena

Management: Once again, got some requests for some of my original show notes. As before, these aren’t in any way formatted for readers – they’re my notes to myself, containing immediate reactions and anything I thought might be useful for pulling together the motifs and themes of the series. They just go straight through from first episode to last, but of course you can ctrl-f to find the scattered references to any particular topic. The occasional bolded sections are stuff that I thought were key points at the time, or pieces I was sure I’d use for my eventual essay.

Anyway! That’s all for preamble. These are mainly for the crazy few people who are into this sort of thing, so don’t feel obligated to read, there’s no prize at the end. This really is just a whole goddamn ton of Utena notes. Enjoy!

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