Diving deep for another review, this time covering Miyazaki’s very first film. This was both a fun artifact and a really entertaining film, and seemed particularly relevant since I’m just now nearing the end of The Anime Machine, which is deeply interested in Miyazaki’s evolving feelings on conflict, gender, and technology. Castle of Cagliostro fits neatly into the old side of these ambiguous themes, totally reveling in explosions and devices and masculine heroism, but it’s still rich with Miyazaki-isms, from the kinetic direction to the reveling in a kind of timeless, faux-medieval European aesthetic. And also it has a bunch of sweet chase scenes. Recommended!
Here’s my full review at ANN, and you can check out my notes below!
Aaand it’s over. Season two of Oregairu, the season that handily elevated a show that was already one of my all-time favorites, has come to an end. And honestly, I don’t even really feel that sad; this conclusion worked perfectly, it resolved the critical dramatic arc-threads that were still lingering regarding Yukino and Yui, and it acted as an affirmation of everything Hikki resolved to work on back in episode eight. It was also one more precious episode of the main trio just hanging out and enjoying time together, which we certainly didn’t get too much of in this drama-packed sequel. Oregairu has come to an end, but it’s already given me everything I’d hoped for. I’m just happy it exists at all.
Here’s my full writeup for ANN. Plenty of notes below!
And the actual Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan arc comes to a close. This was a fittingly somber episode, full of rich sunset colors and slow scenes of Nagato and friends. I’ve really enjoyed this arc all throughout, and though this seems like a good place for it to end, I’m definitely sad to see this version of Nagato Yuki go. Hopefully the show doesn’t just immediately go back to being its original derpy self now, and has possibly learned something from this surprisingly compelling experience.
Here’s my full post over at ANN. Notes below!
Aaand we’re back to the full lengths, with a review of one of the best shows of the past few years: Ping Pong the Animation. Ping Pong is a stellar achievement in basically all categories, and will likely be one of my gateway recommendations for many years to come. I actually wrote an essay about the show back when it aired, so I got to double-dip on this one, covering themes specifically then and the whole package this time. More writing about Kong can only be a good thing.
You can check out my full review over at ANN.
I didn’t take notes on this one, since I’d already watched it twice before my review, but I did write episodic posts about it back when it aired, so there’s a whole bunch of Ping Pong content to go around!
Another standout episode of Euphonium this week, one which probably won’t turn as many heads as eight, but which was very nearly as good in its own way. This one all came down to absurdly consistent tricks of framing and execution, as the episode pulled as close into Kumiko’s head as possible for one more intimate episode before the big performance. More reflections, more visual framing of distance, smart use of light and shadow, strong sound design, beautiful animation… this one just had it all. Kyoto Animation are really going all-out with this little show.
My full ANN post is here. You can check out my notes below!
Spring season is nearly ending, bringing with it that seasonal terror of aging and a whole bunch of finales. Spring’s shows seem to be ending reasonably well on average, though this week had its stronger and weaker episodes. The big hit this time was Blood Blockade Battlefront, which rallied back from a weaker episode and a recap with likely its best episode so far. Sound! Euphonium had a stellar episode as well, though it’s hard to pick a favorite in that one. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure also had a fine ending, and Nagato Yuki-chan maintained its streak, though the staying power of its current trick seems like it may be running out. Other episodes were less strong, but nothing seems to be actually falling apart at this point – I’ve dropped too aggressively for that. Anyway, let’s get to ’em!
With the season cooling down, we got an episode of Oregairu that actually felt more like a season one episode – that same somewhat uneven mix of archetypal stuff and really smart, poignant character stuff. Haruno is basically a big mean-spirited wrecking ball here, who seems to more or less represent what Hachiman would become if he stayed bitter and insular and emotionally distant. If Yukino and her friends were older, they wouldn’t be made so insecure by her petty tricks, but they aren’t, and so insecurities abound. I’d honestly be fine with the final episode just being Sensei shaking Haruno by the shoulders and then telling her students not to listen to her, but I’m guessing things won’t resolve quite as simply as that.
Here’s my full episode review, and you can check out the notes below!
Things are gettin’ weird. New Nagato (or, well, Old Old Nagato) has been firmly established now, and so the show has apparently decided it’s already time to start relentlessly messing with her. That messing was depicted in this episode through a wide array of unnerving visual tricks, along with a narrative that kept hammering in her very understandable fear of being erased by Old Nagato’s return. The show can’t stick only in this off-kilter space forever, but it’s really making the most of it so far. I’m excited to see where it goes from here, which is certainly not something I could have said a few weeks ago.
Here’s my full ANN post. Notes below!
Holy crap was this show bad. SUPER bad. Nearly entirely without merit, in fact. That didn’t stop me from good-naturedly trying to sift its dregs for even mild praise, but man, what a waste of time this turned out to be. This one basically just used the .hack universe as an excuse to be the stereotype of anime that people who don’t like anime apply to all anime. Silly episodic nonsense, incest, bobble-headed characters, gay panic jokes, a trite and ridiculous storyline, the whole nine yards. Please, please, please stay far away from this one.
Here’s my full review if you want to hear even more lurid tales of narrative failure. And you can check out my sad, resigned notes below!
Alright, big ol’ essay time! This one’s all about Oregairu, and Hachiman more specifically. I could honestly write a piece about almost any of that show’s characters, but Hachiman sits at the center, and his issues are partially reflective of everyone’s. Where his attitude comes from, how it gets expressed, how Oregairu slowly drags him forward – we’re talking about ALL OF IT today. Let’s get right to it!
Growing Up is Hard to Do