Genshiken Second Season, Volume 10 – Review

Genshiken Second Season has been off the rails for a while now, and this volume doesn’t really do much to fix that. The good news is, having read the volume that follows this one, there’s at least some solid character writing coming down the pipe. But this volume… Madarame’s harem ran out of gas volumes ago, and this one really doesn’t add anything fresh to the situation. It’s a little saddening to see what Genshiken has become.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

March comes in like a lion – Episode 30

We were again pulled away from Hina’s story this week, as the approach of the Newcomer Tournament finals saw Rei reuniting with his old friend Shimada. It’s always nice to see Shimada, and this episode offered some solid insight into Nikaidou’s character, but on the whole it wasn’t really a standout. I am ready to see Rei square off in the finals, though – this season has been trauma-heavy but shogi-light, and I’m excited to see a major match again.

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

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Winter 2018 Season Preview

Well, all good things must come to an end. This fall has offered us bountiful great anime in a wide variety of genres, presenting the strongest single-season crop that I’ve seen in years. From great romantic comedies like Recovery of an MMO Junkie to sturdy character dramas like Just Because!, from action highlights like Blood Blockade Battlefront and Juni Taisen to the all-in-one spectacle of Land of the Lustrous, this season has spoiled us utterly. And now, with only a few weeks left in this magical season, it’s time to look forward and acknowledge that joy is fleeting and disappointment boundless, and that next season probably isn’t going to be very good.

The pickings are definitely slimmer for winter, though there are still highlights worth mentioning. And on top of that, the fact that fall all-stars like MMO Junkie and Just Because! didn’t really recommend themselves on first viewing should also serve as a reminder that every season will have its own surprises. As usual, I won’t be going down the names and synopses of every single upcoming show – you can easily find that info on anichart, and I don’t generally find premises that useful anyway. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the shows I have some semi-meaningful reason to look forward to, and explaining why I think these contenders have a chance. Starting with my top prospects and wandering on down, let’s explore the winter season!

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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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