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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Chihayafuru – Episode 19

Let’s get back to Chihayafuru! It’s been a few weeks since I watched Chihayafuru on my end, since, well, I burned through both my monthly covered episodes within a week. And even now, I’m technically writing this a few days before my next month is covered, and dipping into that month’s prospective episodes. But here’s the thing: Chihayafuru is good, and I enjoy watching and writing about it. Every episode is so much fun that it can sometimes feel impossible to stick to my two-episodes-a-month structure. So damn the schedule, and let’s watch some Chihayafuru.

Last episode saw Chihaya learning some much-needed humility, as she found herself defeated by an opponent with slower hands but a much sharper tactical sense for the game. Following that, we saw all four of our other teammates pairing up, and right now we’ve got Kana and Tsutomu engaged in a brutal head-to-head battle. Let’s get right to it!

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Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 24

And so it ends.

Having followed the cursed Takakura family as they carried out the rambling will of fate, everything comes together on that inescapable train, icon of both terrorist violence and the inescapable nature of destiny. The tracks only ever go one way, and all we can hope to do is leap onboard and be carried where it goes. Kanba hopes to tame the beast that is fate, agreeing to Sanetoshi’s bargain if only to save his sister. Shoma knows Kanba’s route is hopeless, but has no clearer goal. The two stand apart, each desperately hoping to save Himari, each powerless before the will of fate.

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Fall 2017 – Week 9 in Review

Land of the Lustrous is so good you guys what is up with that. I mean, the other anime I’m watching are good too, but seriously, Land of the Lustrous. I think it actually might be on anime of the year trajectory at this point, particularly if we hit any real payoff of its big threads by the end of this season. Aside from that, hey, guess it’s time for the Week in Review! The season’s holding pretty steady at this point, with most shows either moving towards or formally transitioning into their final act. Love Live is still messing around in side arcs, but I actually appreciate that in a structural sense, since I don’t think the show really improves by focusing on the drama of the Love Live itself. MMO Junkie had a criminally adorable episode, and Just Because stayed as well-observed as ever. Look, I don’t know how many ways I can say “this season is phenomenal and we should cherish it while it lasts.” Let’s get right on with it and RUN THESE SHOWS DOWN!

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