Winter 2017 – First Half in Review

The season halfway point has arrived at last! In spite of early speculation by certain disreputable parties, the winter season hasn’t fallen on its face, and is actually turning out to be stronger than last winter. It’s still certainly a weaker season, but for some reason that’s just how winters tend to be – and given I’m supplementing this season’s offerings with regular injections of unfair additions like Planetes and Nichijou, I can’t really complain. But today, it’s all about the winter shows, as I commence the seasonal tradition of ranking everything I’m watching at the exact point those rankings are least likely to be meaningful. Theoretically, this is supposed to reflect the fundamental pointlessness of constructing hierarchical rankings of art in general – in practice, it’s more like most other traditions: I do it because I started doing it and I’ve been doing it for a while and goddamnit if I’m gonna stop now. So let’s start right at the top and run this season down!

Continue reading

10 Best Anime to Watch on Valentine’s Day

Yep, got another list for you! This time we’re celebrating the year’s most ruthless holiday with a bunch of romances, covering a wide range of love stories gone wrong and right. It was fun curating this list, though I probably should have included Wandering Son a second time, since the hetero is a bit overwhelming with this one. I tried to at least create a solid balance of romances from both male and female perspectives, and in a variety of subgenres – the one other area I’d have liked would be fewer high school shows, but I’ll be damned before Clannad shows up on one of these things. Gotta have some principles.

10 Best Anime to Watch on Valentine’s Day

Planetes – Episode 24

The minutes tick by, SDF agents steering humanity’s “future” towards the Sea of Tranquility City. Suspended in darkness between the earth and moon, the Von Braun has never looked so fragile. At a time like this, it’s easy to forget the human cost of such a grand, breathtaking achievement. A million lives lost is a crime too vast for us to conceive of, while monuments are easy to believe in. A symbol can mean more than any number of innocents.

Continue reading

March comes in like a lion – Episode 17

March continued its streak of excellent episodes this week, bringing great visual flare to the show’s consistently thoughtful conversations. This episode’s beauty frankly took me a bit by surprise – March is a pretty show, but I haven’t come to expect this level of fresh visual invention for each new episode. Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come!

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

Continue reading

Seiren – Episode 6

Seiren continued in its weird, rambling way this week, offering more bizarre one-liners and not all that much else. There was actually a pretty satisfying robot duel between Toru and Tsuneki this episode, but the pleasures are pretty thin on the ground in this show. I can’t really imagine enjoying this show as a romance, which is a pretty damning flaw for a, uh, romance. Ah well.

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

Continue reading

Why It Works: Rakugo and the River’s Pull

Today on Why It Works, I finally get around to a dedicated Rakugo article! I ended up pretty happy with this one – I switched from Why It Works’ generally conversational tone to a more dramatic, show-based one, and I think it worked out okay. Why It Works lets me experiment in all sorts of ways, and making a weekly column-sized version of one of my big thematic writeups was a lot of fun. Rakugo certainly offers plenty to talk about!

Why It Works: Rakugo and the River’s Pull

Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 5

And we’re back with more Ojamajo Doremi! The witch trio has already been established at this point, and with the perils of childhood already solved, it’s time for our three heroes to dive into the spirited world of witch capitalism. Look, if you’re going to pay off your witch mortgages, sometimes you gotta make some hard witch calls.

I actually am pretty thrilled to see how the salesman life works out for our trio. I’ve apparently arrived at the level of anime fandom where I’m basically done with shows that are cruel for the sake of it, and ready to embrace the upbeat but legitimately thoughtful children’s shows of the truly unsalvageable anime lifer. God help us all.

Continue reading

Casshern Sins – Episode 8

And we’re back with more Casshern Sins! The show’s last episode was one of my favorites so far, offering the most evocative setpiece yet in the form of that lonesome belltower in the sands. “Evocative” is really the word when it comes to Casshern Sins – the show is layered with vague thematic and visual ideas that gesture towards greater meaning without entirely solidifying into clear messages. The result is an anthology of melancholy fairy tales that perfectly strike at the show’s intended tone, vignettes instilled with biblical significance. Let’s see what this new episode brings!

Continue reading

Bakemonogatari – Episode 4

We’re in deep Mayoi Snail territory now, meaning I finally was able to get away with a reasonably sized episode review. This episode wasn’t really any more exciting than I remembered it being – I enjoyed it more now because I already know the characters, but basically nothing of consequence happened at all, and even the character-establishing banter was pretty mediocre. Mayoi Snail continues to dare any potential audiences to fight through the series.

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

Continue reading

Mikagura School Suite – Review

Today I reviewed the hyperactive but generally endearing Mikagura School Suite! Outside of the likable protagonist Eruna, there really wasn’t that much to this one – its storytelling was pretty half-baked, and its aesthetics were nothing to write home about. The one exception was the handful of excellent fight scenes, but with less than half a dozen such scenes scattered across a full dozen episodes, that didn’t really save the show. Still, “mediocre but generally pleasant” makes for a perfectly acceptable viewing experience.

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

Continue reading