Why It Works: Managing Misunderstandings in Recovery of an MMO Junkie

This week’s Crunchyroll article focuses on something I briefly alluded to in a Week in Review a few weeks ago: the way romantic comedies are essentially built out of a series of inherent misunderstandings, or gaps in understanding, that are then consumed one by one in order to both create drama and keep the audience invested. I feel it’s an interesting way of framing narratives that really highlights the distinction between natural and artificial drama. I hope you enjoy the piece!

Managing Misunderstandings in Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Kuuchuu Buranko – Episode 2

Let’s get back to Kuuchuu Buranko! My experience with this show’s first episode was… messy. It felt like the show was embracing mixed-media visual experimentation purely for the sake of experimentation, and not in a way that facilitated any of its dramatic goals. On top of that, the show’s approach to mixed media, and its overall visual design, were just kinda ugly on the whole. “Garish” would be the generous description – the show’s incredibly loud mixture of colors and styles felt like a continuous assault on the eyes, meaning the choices that seemed to exist purely for their own visual sake didn’t even really result in a satisfying visual result. The episode felt like the results of giving a young visionary with plenty of ideas but not the most sense a blank check, which may well have been how this show started.

That said, the premiere also had to spend some time setting up its overall premise, which cut into the time that could be dedicated to instilling its narrative with some dramatic weight. If Kuuchuu Buranko can apply its wild stylistic digressions to a story with some real emotional heft to it, we might actually have a reasonable show here. Let’s see if episode two fits the bill!

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Just Because! – Episode 8

Ena kept things moving once again in this week’s Just Because!, solidifying her position as the best member of this very awkward cast. I’m sympathetic to Mio’s feelings here, but Ena is just too charming, and her proactive nature is too good at balancing out the rest of the cast’s hesitance. If this show has a “destined pairing” it’s likely Eita and Mio, but I’ll be rooting for Ena regardless.

You can check out my full review over at ANN!

Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 23

Let’s get back to Ojamajo Doremi! The gang are at their lowest point yet this week, having not only lost the shop to Majo Ruka, but also entirely run out of magic spheres. The show spent pretty much the entirety of last episode stripping them of their few remaining resources, so it feels like some sort of change has gotta come. That said, this arc has largely defied my expectations from start to finish, both in positive and negative ways, so I can’t begin to guess how they’ll resolve it. Maybe the actual witch government will step in? It seems like they’d have some vested interest in dealing with a witch queen successor who spends all her time poisoning ignorant humans, but I guess I don’t really understand the mechanics of witch politics anyway. Maybe poisoning people is good to them. Who can say.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling. Let’s get right to the Doremi!

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Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars – Review

Today I’ve got a review of… a deeply mediocre giant robot show. Regalia has some sweet robot fights and cool sound design, but its actually storytelling is pretty darn bad. I like the base concept of a giant robot show centered not on Masculine Power but on the nature of sisterhood, but Regalia’s writing was just not strong enough to capitalize on that premise. Still, it does have some sweet traditionally animated robot fights, if that’s what you’re into.

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

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Fall 2017 – Week 8 in Review

Having honed an already-strong season down to a fine point, my experiences with this week’s anime were altogether pretty darn good. March comes in like a lion is perhaps the biggest surprise – I’d established fairly middle-of-the-road expectations for the show the first time around, but this time it’s consistently keeping up with the season’s top heavy hitters. And of course, both Just Because! and Land of the Lustrous have been great from the start and remained great, with only Just Because!’s production woes really pulling it down. We’re reaching the point where it’s time for me to settle on my favorite shows of the year, and the fall season will certainly be well-represented there. Could either Kemono Friends or Land of the Lustrous secure that top spot, marking a new dawn for CG anime? ONLY TIME WILL TELL! Alright let’s talk shows.

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Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 23

Penguindrum’s twenty-third episode opens with one of Sanetoshi’s memories, underlining the fact that we’re truly in the endgame now. From a vague figure defined by cryptic mysteries, Sanetoshi has reached the point of addressing the audience directly, literally speaking to the screen as he describes his philosophy. “This world is made of countless boxes. People bend and stuff their bodies into their own boxes, and stay there for the rest of their lives. In those boxes, you lose your sense of self. That’s why I’m getting out. I’m one of the chosen.” Speaking of anonymous fates and chosen people, Sanetoshi seems to be twisting the philosophy other characters used to save their friends from the child broiler. Sanetoshi’s explosive terrorism is just another response to the world’s own fundamental violence.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 29

After several weeks focused on Hina’s unique and often emotionally crushing conflicts, March returned to a more standard mode this week, balancing the Kawamoto drama with a renewed focus on Rei’s shogi fortunes. This season’s aesthetic strengths remained as clear as ever though, making this a fine episode on all counts. I’m not sure if it’s because I forgot how good this show was or because this season has legitimately improved on the first, but I just keep being impressed by how consistently strong these episodes are. March is good stuff.

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

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What Does Your Favorite Juni Taisen Character Say About You?

For this week’s Crunchyroll article, I embraced the silliness of character listicles and made a very ridiculous Juni Taisen article. I’m actually pretty happy with my breakdowns of all the character psychologies here, but I can’t say I’d rely on my findings for any personality horoscoping. But hey, if you like Rabbit and also murdering, I guess follow your bliss.

What Your Favorite Juni Taisen Character Says About You

Chihayafuru – Episode 18

Let’s get back to Chihayafuru! It’s been a full one and a half episodes since the show’s last tournament, so given our prior pace, I’m guessing we’ll be getting back into the action soon. Last episode was necessary, though – Chihayafuru has established Chihaya’s play as binary in a very specific way, and interrogating her speed-focused play was a smart way to provoke her into growing as a player. Illustrating a sports hero’s weaknesses is just as important as illustrating their strengths, since if we’re to invest in their growth as a player, we need to see a solid progression from stage one to wherever they end up. In a show where the tactical mechanics of competition are critical to the stakes of the drama, characters can’t just grow in an emotional sense – they have to level up in a clear tactical one as well. I’m excited to see how the show illustrates Chihaya balancing out her skill set, and can’t wait for her next confrontation with the Queen. Let’s get to it!

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