Summer 2015 – Week 13 in Review

Hot damn it’s Wednesday. And a very special Wednesday at that – the final Wednesday of summer season 2015, possibly the weakest anime season since I started doing week in review posts. That’s actually worked out okay for me, though – given the relative scarcity of airing shows I cared about, I’ve been able to burn through all sorts of backlog and review material, getting through Love Live S2, Saekano, The Idolmaster, and Turn A Gundam all in record time. Plus I’ve gotten to watch Paranoia Agent weekly, and there still have been a couple airing shows worth their salt. So let’s start right there, with a show that’s consistently worked to engage its audience on multiple levels and challenge our conceptions of what anime can really be about.

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Classroom Crisis – Episode 13

Classroom Crisis comes to an ending with a fairly respectable final episode. I really liked how all the narrative/character/thematic pieces came together in this one – it felt very gracefully composed, which is honestly something this show has often struggled with. There were cute moments and fist-pump moments and some nice silly faces, and overall this finale didn’t quite manage to match the show’s best moments (namely the Nagisa-Kaito and Nagisa-Mizuki conversations from the last few episodes), but still ended things in solid fashion. Of course, it apparently couldn’t end without one more dip into stupid animeisms, so obviously the ending was set up as introducing a possible love triangle between three of the leads. Win some, lose some.

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

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Summer 2015 – Week 12 in Review

The week in review has come again. We had a pretty serious bumper crop of episodes this week, with basically everything but Classroom Crisis offering one of its best episodes yet. Of course, “best” is a relative term this season, so when it comes to Monster Musume and Prison School, that really equates more to “most absurd/delirious/grotesque/bizarrely well-executed” – but that’s what I’m watching those shows for, so more of what they are definitely isn’t a bad thing. And on the “actually respectable show” front, both Gatchaman Crowds and Paranoia Agent seem to be ending as well as possible, with Gatchaman in particular really pulling things together beautifully this week. This has been a lousy season overall, but it’s looking like the few brave shows that made it to the finish line are going to let it end with some god damn dignity.

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Classroom Crisis – Episode 12

Classroom Crisis spent this episode ramping up to a high-speed finale, strapping Nagisa into a jury-rigged X-2 ship just to give Iris a future opportunity to show off her stuff. The road there was enjoyable enough, though having Yuji come back as a newly unhinged villain didn’t do much for the series. Fortunately, this episode also gave Angelina a big opportunity to get mad and kick all kinds of ass, which is always a good time. It’s looking like Classroom Crisis will be ending respectably but not fantastically, which is a fine compromise for a show that’s been a series of compromises from the start.

You can check out my full review over at ANN. Notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 11 in Review

Wednesday has come again! Once again, I devoured an absurd bounty of anime this week, all concentrated into one friggin’ show. It turns out when I don’t have a day job, I can really crank through those reviews. Who would have guessed! I’ll probably spend next week working more on site interface stuff and freelance work, working towards establishing ways to make funding specific writeups more accessible, but for now, all I can do is marvel at the fact that I’ve probably watched around seventy episodes worth of anime in the last two weeks.

Fortunately, this week was all upside – not only did I watch the second half of a good show, even the weekly stuff put out some stellar episodes. So let’s start right there, appropriately beginning for the very first time over in this season’s reliable Trash Alley.

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Classroom Crisis – Episode 11

Classroom Crisis is back! After two straight episodes of tedious and emotionally sterile boardroom shenanigans, Classroom Crisis finally returned to what it’s actually good at – demonstrating remarkable humanity in the conversations between its lead characters. And jeez, was this episode’s big conversation ever a stunner. The cathartic reunion between Nagisa and Mizuki here honestly justifies the series for me pretty much single-handedly. Satisfying romance is one of those mystical white elephants of anime storytelling, and these two have all kinds of character-coherent and endearing chemistry. Couple that with the dramatic stakes of Nagisa being at his lowest point and Mizuki dragging him out of it, and you’ve got a scene that will pretty much permanently endear me to this series regardless of all its other (numerous) failings. Scenes like this are what I’m in fiction for – I built my first novel around a scene that was basically exactly like this, and I will probably be always be a sucker for “I know things are bad, but god damnit, I care about you. We can get through this together.” Nice work, Classroom Crisis. You got me.

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

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Summer 2015 – Week 10 in Review

Wednesday has come again, and with it, one more scraping collection of show reflection fragments pulled together out of my paltry watch schedule. Fortunately, this week I was able to supplement my bare-minimum weekly viewings with a big ol’ ten-inch steak of anime. This week I watched basically the entirety of The Idolmaster!

But before we get to that, let’s run down the usual suspects, whose episodes this week ended up being well…. kinda suspect. But hey, at least the bad shows had good episodes!

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Classroom Crisis – Episode 10

This week’s Classroom Crisis was… an episode. For the second week straight, the show focused largely on Nagisa’s political dealings within the Kirishina Corporation, and for the second week straight, those dealings failed to have basically any emotional grounding or sense of coherent internal drama. Nagisa’s stuff here is really just “stuff happening” – it all exists to the side of the conflicts that either have some earned emotional weight or drive at the contrast between pragmatism and idealism (which is a conflict that’s itself largely confined to the conversations between Kaito and Nagisa, since the actual political stuff is way too simplistic to carry much meaning). This episode had one great conversation between Iris and Mizuki that reflected what the show is actually good at, but aside from that, this was a dreary wash.

But anyway. You can check out my breakdown over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 9 in Review

Wednesday has come again! It’s time to talk about cartoons and other very serious things.

Uniquely serious things at the moment, it turns out. “Anime is serious business” has lost some of its humor in light of last week being my final week with a day job. Right now, as of this week, anime is my business. My only business.

This is kind of terrifying! I can’t exactly say I’ve reached the point where I can go comfortably full-time on criticism and writing in general, but I can at least fake it for a while. Between my ANN work, my advertising money, and my Patreon support, I’m gonna try to make a go of this. Things are gonna be kinda tight for a while, but this also means I’ll have a whole lot more time to work on writing projects for all you guys, so hopefully this is one big step towards a pretty delightful future. If you’d like to support me in this grand experiment, please feel free to chip in a couple whatevers, though I also accept worried, half-disbelieving “good lucks”, or even confident ones.

A few people have asked if I’d be willing to proofread, edit, or review things on commission, and the answer is definitely yes. I’m going full freelance here, meaning I’m a mercenary with nothing to lose and everything to prove, meaning yes I will take your projects that sounds awesome. I’ll hopefully integrate ways to inquire about such things on the site in a more formal way shortly, but you can message me here, on twitter, on, or on patreon if you’ve got anything you’d like to discuss. The one formal project I’m most concerned with getting off the ground is setting up communal support funds for specific shows – like, if ten people want me to start reviewing Eva episodes one by one, they actually have a convenient way to make that happen. I’ve got a whole big to-do list to run down there.

Speaking of formal projects, I’ve got one more surprise! People keep asking me when I’m going to play some videogames again, and that can finally be answered: a couple friends and I have just created 10 Royal Games, a channel where we’ll be playing through all manner of games and shooting the shit on whatever strikes our fancy. We’re starting off with some very classic Zelda and some very fresh Metal Gear (first videos should hopefully be up tonight, and I’ll link them both here and on twitter), but feel free to suggest other stuff we could dive into, or topics you’d like us to bring up. It should be fun!

WELP, THAT COVERS ALL THE WORK STUFF. Now that I’ve sobered everyone up with serious discussion of my financial future, let’s soothe those weary brains with some ramblings about anime. And manga! And maybe some western cartoons! Hell, let’s just randomize the whole damn thing. RUNNING ‘EM DOWN.

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Classroom Crisis – Episode 9

Well, we finally hit Nagisa’s big “betrayal,” and it honestly felt kinda underwhelming. He didn’t actively help A-TEC, but his move here was more an incidental betrayal of convenience than a strong dramatic choice between friends and revenge. But I guess that’s somewhat reflective of Classroom Crisis’ fundamental strengths and weaknesses – it’s very strong when it comes to building these characters and putting them in a room together, but its ability to tell a tightly composed story isn’t the sharpest. I’d figured that was likely due to the need to add a bunch of nonsense anime diversions like the beach episode, but maybe this writer just isn’t as good with plotting as he is with writing people. Either way, this episode still worked nicely when it leaned into the show’s strengths, so I’m still fairly confident everything will turn out well in the end.

You can check out my full writeup over at ANN, or my notes below!

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