Today I conclude my journey through Juni Taisen’s early episodes, talking about how well the show executed on Chicken’s story and also how episode four set up a variety of dramatic tentpoles for the show to come. This is pretty much as far as you can go with an article series like this – as episode six has gleefully demonstrated, we are now in the part of the narrative where all bets are off, and characters will be dying quickly in order to make way for the final confrontations. At least I got half an article dedicated to Monkey before that bastard Nisio killed her off :(((
Today on Crunchyroll, I dug into how well Juni Taisen has balanced the assumptions of its premise and the general demands of dramatic characterization. The show isn’t wasting time killing off its contenders, but those contenders are being used well – their deaths are all meaningful in their own way, and the fact that I actually felt very sad for Chicken and Boar is a testament to the show’s overall writing. You can check out my full piece over at Crunchyroll!
Isao Takahata boasts a catalog so laudable that it seems strange to see him as any kind of “unsung” director, but given he spent so much of his career working alongside Hayao Miyazaki, it makes sense that he’d end up coming off as the quiet genius of Studio Ghibli. In contrast with Miyazaki’s universally appealing and often family-friendly films, Takahata directs stranger, more idiosyncratic productions, from the devastating Grave of the Fireflies to the nostalgic Only Yesterday, and even a passion project about a series of rural canals. So it remains with his final film, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which was released close enough to Miyazaki’s own The Wind Rises to again be dwarfed in public consciousness. And yet, like so much of his work, Kaguya possesses an incredibly distinct beauty, and in its own way speaks to the rustic, nostalgic sensibilities that seem to unite Takahata and Miyazaki.
This weekend on Crunchyroll, I highlighted some of the major strengths of this season’s unexpectedly excellent Recovery of an MMO Junkie. It’s always nice when a show that wasn’t on my radar at all turns out to be great, and between MMO Junkie and Just Because!, this has been a good season for confirming that anime can definitely still surprise me. MMO Junkie might actually be the show I most anticipate each week, particularly after last episode’s agonizing cliffhanger. I must see these two get together damnit!
Today on Crunchyroll, I dug into the unique axis of magical intrigue that guides Magus’ Bride’s most beautiful and chilling moments. The show is extremely good at capturing a specific kind of Old World magic that you don’t often see in anime, and I was happy to explore the eccentricities of its style. I hope you enjoy the piece!
Rusted metal flakes tumble across a desolate plain. In the distance, vast shelfs of sand and stone stand like communal grave markers, the last enduring remnants of a lost civilization. What few creatures endure in this landscape are frayed themselves, joints creaking, eyes red with soot and sand. On the shores of a great sea, unnatural shapes rise like great gears or fossils, either truth telling of vitality long past. And in this strange place, a child’s laughter, echoing through brownish dunes before drifting away on the wind.
Tsubasa Tiger could be seen as the first ending of Monogatari, the moment when one of its central figures finally graduates from their apparition’s pain. Of course, in Monogatari, there’s no “escaping” your troubles. Oshino frames the inevitability of psychic pain, and the ways that pain is linked to our fundamental identities, as “we can only save ourselves.” In her audio drama letter to Black Hanekawa, Hanekawa frames this inevitability a little differently. When we tell the story of our pain, we tell the story of ourselves. Raised in a broken home, Hanekawa has herself become a broken home. She finds herself unusual and condemnable, but her story of familial abuse and emotional abnegation only reflects her profound, undeniable human worth.
Today I return to Tsuredure Children for one more Crunchyroll article, this time diving into its thoughtful take on the messier side of romance. I really enjoyed how even in a fairly farcical comedy, Tsuredure Children still managed to clearly respect the feelings and boundaries of its leads. Kana and Chiaki’s breakup fit cleanly within the show’s general atmosphere while never minimizing the serious nature of their actions. It was an impressively articulated arc, and I’m happy to celebrate it today.
Today on Why It Works, I jumped back to My Hero Academia for a pretty silly concept piece. My Hero Academia’s sturdy tactical foundations both make its action very satisfying and also make it a rewarding show to break down in a narrative sense, and today I spun that quasi-criticism into an after-action report. “Who would win in a fight, Goku or Naruto” is generally not the most illuminating genre of criticism, but My Hero Academia is actually constructed in such a way that it rewards such in-universe tactical discussions. I had fun with this piece, and I hope you enjoy it too!
Today on Why It Works, I took advantage of Crunchyroll’s recent slate of acquisitions to rep a few lesser-known but very beautiful shows. It was nice to return to .hack, even if I was just looking for background images, and scouring through Aria episodes convinced me yet again that I really need to find time for that show. There sure are a lot of terrific anime out there.