March comes in like a lion – Episode 37

Rei had his long-awaited first match with Meijin Souya this week, which turned out to be a bit of a pleasant anticlimax. This episode certainly followed through on Souya’s generally mythic presence, but the actual match was nearly over before it began. Still, both that match and the later material between Rei and Souya were entertaining in their own way, so I can’t really complain.

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

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Scorching Ping Pong Girls – Episode 1

It’s time to embark on a new project! Scorching Ping Pong Girls is a recent enough production that I actually watched its first episode for the preview guide way back when it aired, and while I remember finding that enjoyable enough, I didn’t end up sticking with the show. The biggest takeaway I still remember is that it had an unusually sharp sense of emotional interiority for its slice of life/comedy/sports drama space, and also I think the match scenes were handled pretty well? Anyway. It’s maintained a humble but largely positive reputation since then, and seems to still be remembered pretty fondly within my own incredibly specific subsphere of anime fandom. All the various excerpts I’ve seen seem to imply this is a charming and surprisingly robust production, so I’m very on board to get started. Let’s start off with the first episode of Scorching Ping Pong Girls!

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My Monster Secret, Volume 8 – Review

My Monster Secret leaned heavily on its most minor side characters this volume, with altogether disappointing results. This manga definitely can succeed as a full-on farce, but when it’s not relying on the emotional appeal of its characters, the jokes really need to show up… and this volume’s collection of mediocre sight gags and too-long gimmicks just didn’t cut it. Ah well.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 9

Let’s return to ef – A Tale of Memories! The show’s run through a battery of dramatic twists over the past couple episodes, as Kei has fought to keep Hiro away from Miyako and the Renji/Chihiro relationship has run up against the limitations of Chihiro’s disability. Miyako has revealed herself to be the deeply scarred child of a broken home, while Renji has finally witnessed Chihiro at her most vulnerable. Considering the ways Kei has worked to keep Miyako out of Hiro’s life, I’m not sure it sounds terribly healthy for him to end up with either of these girls, but I’m certainly still invested in their drama. And the Renji-Chihiro story has risen from seemingly contrived origins to stand as a smartly articulated and very compelling romance. I’d frankly be happy if this episode focused entirely on the two of them establishing a relationship beyond the constraints of Chihiro’s diary, but I’ve got a feeling Miyako will be taking center stage this time. And hey, I guess Kyosuke still also exists? Either way, I’m excited to get started on one more episode!

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Flip Flappers – Episode 8

It’s time for Flip Flappers! Let’s explore… what is unfortunately, undoubtedly the worst episode of the series. Sorry to be a bummer, but episode eight just does not match the standard set by the rest of this altogether wonderful show. But exploring how things go wrong can be just as illuminating as exploring what they get right, and it’s not like this is a bad episode by general anime standards, anyway. So let’s get started on Flip Flappers’ biggest flop, and see what we can glean from its mistakes.

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ReLIFE – Review

Today I’ve got a full review of ReLIFE, a neat little character drama that kind of died in fan consciousness due to its all-at-once release schedule. The show is messy and looks like crap, but it’s got a unique pitch that leads to some uniquely compelling thoughts on growing up, as well as a generally good ear for character. It doesn’t really balance out to a good show, but I still enjoyed the ride!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Winter 2018 – Week 2 in Review

What the heck, where did this season come from. I still feel I had pretty much every reason to expect this to be a mediocre season, but the straight-out outrageous quality of shows like A Place Further Than the Universe and After the Rain have kept my schedule totally packed. There are enough good shows that I wasn’t even able to watch them all this week – I still need to catch up on Mitsuboshi Colors, and only just now rushed through the latest Universe. On the whole, it appears this season’s relative wildcards are carrying the day, while the more sure things like Evergarden and Franxx are turning out to be a great deal more suspect. But either way, this season is full of absolutely beautiful shows, and some of them are even good in other ways. Let’s run this week down!

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Why It Works: Making Camping Cozy in Laid-Back Camp

Today on Why It Works, I basically went through a craft grab bag of interesting tricks Laid-Back Camp uses to make its wide-open settings feel as familiar and approachable as the classic slice of life club room. The show has a stunningly good control of tone, an effect that’s communally fostered by all its various aesthetic choices. This is a tremendous season for slice of lifes, but even here, Laid-Back Camp feels like something special.

Making Camping Cozy in Laid-Back Camp

March comes in like a lion – Episode 36

We were stuck in transition mode for this week’s March, as we segued out of Hina’s story and into Rei’s match with Meijin Souya. That meant this episode didn’t really have much of a chance of being a highlight, but it was still entertaining on the whole, and actually one of the funnier episodes in recent memory. So-so March is still a very fine show.

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

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Chihayafuru – Episode 23

Alright, let’s get right back to Chihayafuru! Chihaya suffered a pretty crushing defeat last week, finding herself beaten by the eternal Rules Lawyer Queen and prior Actual Queen. Chihaya has begun to internalize processes of reading her opponent, and
moving beyond her wholly speed-based play, but this battle demonstrated that she’s still not mentally strong enough to avoid being easily rattled. Our heroine’s natural focus has thus become its own kind of liability – Chihaya is generally so competitive that
she doesn’t really need to work on settling her nerves, but when her confidence is actually shaken, that means she’s also not really equipped to handle it. We may spend some time attempting to overcome that hurdle now, or we may jump over to Arata’s own struggles. Either way, we’ve only got a few episodes left in Chihayafuru’s first season, so we’re hopefully building up to something. Let’s see what episode twenty-three brings!

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