Chihayafuru – Episode 12

Let’s get back to Chihayafuru! Last episode saw Chihaya’s whole team win their first tournament, defeating Nerdy Minor Character and his Merry Men in order to advance to the regional competition. Chihayafuru worked mightily to make sure that last episode in particular felt like a team effort, in spite of the fact that it was ultimately the team’s three ringers that actually won and pulled them through. The episode before that was chiefly dedicated to making sure Tsutomu felt valued in spite of his current, er, non-value, so I’ll be interested in seeing how the show does right by its weaker teammates going forward.

That said, I’m guessing that the last few episodes’ total focus on the new team means we’re likely to get caught up in Chihaya’s Arata fixation soon, and I’m also hoping the show can find a way to make that thread a bit more interesting. I’m not invested in Chihaya’s obsession with Arata, but Arata himself seems like he’s grown into a more well-rounded and endearing character, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him again. Let’s find out what’s in store!

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Fall 2017 – First Impressions, Part One

A new season has come again, which means I’m currently buried in previews for all manner of shows. That actually hasn’t been so bad this time, courtesy of the fact that anime is apparently good again. From shows I was looking forward to to shows entirely outside my wheelhouse, this has been an extremely promising first few days, offering either actual highlights or at least reasonable genre takes in a wide variety of styles. Basically any season would feel like a relief after this summer, but this season seems like it’ll be a real stunner in its own right!

As always, you can check out the full list of previews over at ANN, or click below for links to my individual writeups (if you didn’t know, I’m Nick Creamer over there). Happy show hunting!

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Hyouka, Part One – Review

Today I’ve got a review of the first long-awaited Hyouka release! After far too many years in limbo, this straight-up masterpiece is finally getting released over here, and I was happy to revisit it. Hyouka is an experience that feels richer every time, full of great details and suffused with a strong atmosphere that completely transports you to its world. I hope my words do it some justice!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Summer 2017 – Week 13 in Review

At last, another season has come to an end. This one wasn’t a particularly auspicious season, but hey, it happens – sometimes the best shows are in genres I don’t really care for, sometimes I sleep on the wrong shows (sorry, Princess Principal), and sometimes there just aren’t that many things worth watching. Even if the airing catalog wasn’t very deep this time, I had a great time with My Hero Academia, Tsuredure Children, and Made in Abyss, and also found lots of time to watch a whole bunch of older anime. The backlog is basically an infinite yawning gulf of quality entertainment, and no matter how much I tear at it, my expanding genre palette just seems to make it broader and darker all the time. With a very promising season coming up, let’s take a few moments to say goodbye to summer’s final stalwarts. Starting with those lovable kids of Class 1-A, let’s run this week down!

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Chihayafuru – Episode 11

Alright everybody, it is TOURNAMENT TIME WOOO. Technically last episode was actually the start of the tournament, but in practice, that episode was mostly about figuring out how Chihaya’s team will deal with the fact that Kana and Tsutomu are so much worse than their other team members. I’d been worried the show would essentially just push them off to the side, but thankfully, Tsutomu’s feelings of rejection and inadequacy were given almost a full episode’s worth of focus, and the idea of using them to waste their opponent’s best players was raised and rejected. Even Chihaya was forced to acknowledge she hadn’t been accounting for her teammates’ feelings, and considering Chihaya has the emotional intelligence of a large rock, that’s a pretty major breakthrough. But with all that very necessary emotional material settled, the team is now in a position to SLING SOME GODDAMN CARDS. I’ve been waiting for Chihayafuru to fully stretch its sports muscles, and I’m guessing this is the time. Let’s get right to it!

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Classroom of the Elite – Episode 12

Classroom of the Elite actually ended pretty well this week, tying a satisfying bow on its most generally effective arc. The series of betrayals and counter-betrayals made for a very propulsive watch, and we even got some decent character moments with a few members of the secondary cast. In the end, Classroom certainly wasn’t a very good show, but it only really fell into terrible territory for its middle act there. Thank you Classroom for not being worse than you were.

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

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Summer 2017 – Week 12 in Review

With Tsuredure Children having already ended, there really wasn’t all that much anime to sift through this week. We’re entering the seasonal Dead Zone now, where our only comforts are the shows that started awkwardly late, a procession of extended goodbyes that can sometimes stumble all the way into the following season. I’m certainly ready for this unfortunate season to end, but now that we’re at the brink, it’s tough to think that I’ll no longer be getting new weekly installments of My Hero Academia. The show’s second season has been a revelation after the somewhat questionable first act, consistently elevating inherently great material and just generally demonstrating how fun a good shounen adventure can be. With JoJo Part Five nowhere in sight and Hunter x Hunter far in the rear view, my weeks will be cloudier for lacking a great punch-stuff story. Symphogear, please rescue us soon.

Anyway, enough lamenting. Let’s start with the dregs and run this week down!

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Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 20

Penguindrum’s twentieth episode (directed by talented key animator and Gainax mainstay Akemi Hayashi, who also gave us this terrific Space Dandy episode) centers on a new location and an old memory, at the forbidding Penguin Force Hideout. The hideout is located in a vast, colorless condominium, a structure that seems to underline our collective anonymity. Rows after rows of identical doors promise homes for everyone and no one, infinite potentially wrong paths. The young Shoma is dwarfed by this place, lost in long stairwells and ensconced behind railing bars. This is truly a frozen world.

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Why It Works: Taking Love Seriously in Tsuredure Children

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.

Taking Love Seriously in Tsuredure Children

Simoun – Episode 1

Alright, let’s get started on Simoun! I don’t actually know all that much about this series, but I know enough to have it placed on my internal shortlist of must-see anime. By reputation alone, Simoun seems to be one of those fragmented classics that end up on a lot of personal lists but never really receive all that much public recognition. Mari Okada seems very good at creating those kind of “this messy show is my ENTIRE SOUL” stories, and that plus an interesting aesthetic and a story that apparently takes a very unique approach to gender identity seems like a very fine recipe. I’ve tried to keep myself relatively ignorant of Simoun’s twists, and I’m excited to see where this adventure goes. Let’s get to it!

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