Casshern Sins – Episode 6

I think we may be in it now. Last episode saw Casshern Sins embracing narrative continuity for the first time, bringing back a handful of characters from earlier episodes in order to answer a couple questions and set up some dramatic dominoes. The nature of Luna is still unclear, but Casshern’s nature is becoming a bit more concrete – he was used as an agent of violence, he could not necessarily control his actions, and his tendency towards violence seems to take over his body altogether.

That episode also saw Casshern represented as a figure of both ruin and salvation, bringing Ruin upon this world but also standing ready to sacrifice himself to pay for his crimes. This show’s symbolism often feels more concrete than its narrative, so I’ll be keeping an eye on everything I can as we continue our adventure into ruin. Let’s get to it!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 13

March had a pretty shaky episode this week, both in terms of its structure and its visual execution. The actual material being covered was fine, but the show’s adherence to its chapter-by-chapter format and creaky animation didn’t really do this block any favors. I’m probably enjoying the show more than I would if I’d read the manga – since this is my first time enjoying this story, I can accept some sloppy execution.

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

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Planetes – Episode 20

Having passed the first round of testing, Hachimaki has successfully isolated himself from the world and home he once knew. Even Planetes’ opening monologue seems to know it – instead of the classic explanation of space debris, the narrator now speaks solemnly of the course of space travel, and the mighty grasp of humanity in the current age. The narrator doesn’t play coy about the consequences of this shift, either – the economic partitioning that has underlined so many of the show’s episodes is directly referenced, and the monologue ends on “the Von Braun is about to set sail, carrying with it humanity’s hopes and dreams.” We’ve already seen that exact vision dismantled by Hachimaki’s father, making its appearance here an intentionally grim irony. Planetes is not pulling its punches.

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Nichijou – Episode 21

Holy shit is it ever time for Nichijou. This is my first post-election Nichijou episode, so I’m really counting on Nano and Yuuko to bail me out of these incoming apocalypse blues. The world could very conceivably end in the next several years, but you know what, at least our species created one super funny cartoon. That’s gotta count for something in the grand scales, right? Nichijou is pretty good.

Alright, enough frighteningly justified doomsaying. LET’S NICHIJOUUU.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 12

March returned this week with what was honestly a pretty disjointed episode, mixing Rei’s thoughts on the Kawamoto family home with the first stages of a tournament and even a brief showdown with a new nemesis. Gotou isn’t anything but a one-note antagonist so far, but March has very good about avoiding that sort of character in the past, so hopefully he’ll gain some complexity before the Lion King finals. Either way, it’s nice to have this show back.

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

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Ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 1

Hey everybody! Today I’ll be running through some notes for a new series: Ef – A Tale of Memories. I’ve heard this franchise was one of Shin Oonuma’s greatest contributions to studio SHAFT, before he went off to reign over Silver Link for all eternity. I’ve also heard that it’s both extremely visually compelling and exactly my kind of thing, full of sharp character writing and romance and visual storytelling that actually elevates those things. Either way, the die has been cast for the first couple episodes, so we’ll see what Ef has to offer. Onward!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 5

Let’s dive into another episode of Casshern Sins! I should be a bit more familiar with the show’s style at this point, given the gap between watching episodes has shifted from around ten months to about six hours. The last episode offered perhaps the first glimpse of lasting hope for the series – in contrast with the doomed church of two and dying human of three, Sophita provided both friendship and hope to Casshern, giving him someone to return to in this wasteland. Given that dash of optimism, I’m expecting this episode to counterbalance with some oppressive, beautiful sorrow. This world won’t decay into forgotten tombstones all by itself, so let’s get right to it!

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Fall 2016 – Week 13 in Review

Welp, only half my shows even aired this week, so I guess we’ll be keeping this one brief. It was all endings this time, which pretty much went down as expect – while Girlish Number’s last episode as a bit underwhelming, both Euphonium and Flip Flappers nailed the dismount, which was a great relief. As extremely good shows near their end points, I often feel more anxious than excited; when you’re competing for the big leagues, all I’m hoping for is an ending I’ll be happy to return to over the years. Euphonium and Flip Flappers both more or less managed that, so I can’t really complain. Let’s start Girlish Number and run these three down!

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Wandering Son – Episode 7

Wandering Son’s seventh episode opens with the turning leaves, as the late summer warmth of the school festival fades into the bundled coats of fall. Those leaves don’t just give us an indication of the time passing, though – they also directly echo this episode’s focus. Alternately titled “Rosy Cheeks” or “Growing Pains,” this episode hones in on the unwelcome shifts of adolescence, as Nitori finds her body changing in new and unwelcome ways. As the rich summer leaves shift into crinkly reddish paper, Nitori’s own rosy cheeks are turning red not with passion or beauty, but with the pimples of puberty.

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Natsume’s Book of Friends – Episode 2

Natsume’s second episode opens with a distant shot portraying Natsume’s school, along with more of the rural scenery that has already proven to be one of the show’s central characters. I love that scenery, beautiful even in this show’s simply drawn, low-resolution format. Rural Japan is one of my favorite anime settings, along with that “vaguely medieval Mediterranean countryside” employed by shows like Kino’s Journey and Haibane Renmei. Perhaps it’s simply a natural tendency towards exoticism, but something about Japan’s rolling hills and sprawling farmlands naturally puts me at ease. Continue reading