Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 06

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InoBato’s sixth outing tables the exploration of the potential rift between the girls as a result of their shared feelings for Jurai to take an entirely different Route: the one from Jurai to Sayumi, the tall, proper, raven-haired beauty who hasn’t had an episode devoted to her yet, while also revealing that she tried to use her power to erase everyone’s powers (including her own), ten months prior.

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When she feels under the weather after doing most of the work making a video game for Jurai’s birthday (a very sweet gesture on the part of the whole club, though Jurai’s in-game fantasy can’t touch Chu2Koi delusion for pizazz) Sayumi stays home for the day to rest. Jurai visits and learns she wears glasses and has a little sister nothing like her, and is generally happy to see her home-ier side. Then, while flipping through her middle school yearbook, he asks her why she didn’t try to become StuCo president in high school. She abruptly asks Jurai to leave.

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Combined with flashbacks – ostensibly from Jurai’s POV – of he and Sayumi having a fight over whether she should erase everyone’s powers, it seems clear he struck a nerve. But the fact is, Jurai is mistaken, and spends the entire episode worrying and investigating Sayumi and blaming himself needlessly. Sayumi doesn’t blame Jurai for anything…on the contrary, she’s grateful for the way things turned out.

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Sayumi, you see, strove to be the perfect, “proper woman”, as her strong, stern grandmother told her to. She still does. But in middle school, as StuCo Prez, that obsession made her lose sight of her friends. And when her powers awakened, she was frightened and didn’t know what to do – both natural, imperfect reactions to gaining seemingly boundless powers.

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She’s grateful because Jurai was essentially her hero on both counts. First, she helped put Sayumi’s mind at ease by setting a boundary to her powers. He does so with a daring gamble: fighting an unwinnable physical fight (because he won’t hit a girl) and letting her use her power…and it doesn’t work. She can’t use her powers to erase their powers. They’re stuck with them, but Jurai assures her and the others that he’ll watch over them.

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Sayumi and the others (except maybe Chifuyu) realize he’s likely just blowing smoke…but heck, they have these crazy powers…the possibility isn’t zero Jurai could actually be right. His tireless optimism galvanizes, cheers, and buoys her and the rest of the club. Thanks to him, she has friends she’d never have made had she joined the StuCo for selfish reasons.

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Sayumi is very different from Tomoyo and yet this episode did a great job making her almost as suitable and plausible a love interest for Jurai as the crimson-haired light novel author. The early, rigorous establishment of the Jurai’s distinct bonds with each of the girls is most welcome, and crucial to my being emotionally invested if and when the implied future conflict between said girls is revisited…or should Jurai have to make good on his boasts of being able to stop them should their powers go haywire. Either way, or both — I’m properly on board.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 06

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Shinichi’s not-mom may have stabbed him through the heart, but obviously our protagonist can’t die a quarter of the way into the show. I mean, he could, like this guy (spoilers!), but I’d rather he stick around, and obviously so does Migi, since he won’t last long without a living host. His revival is a “how, not if” situation. But that doesn’t meant the “how” won’t change both host and parasite.

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I like the juxtaposition of Shinichi on the floor dead with a scene at school in which a concerned Satomi is grilled by another classmate who seems to be into him. This is all the drama Shinichi would have had to bear had he never “met” Migi. High School Drama, with rumors and innuendo and love triangles, not creepy-as-fuck monsters and massive internal injuries.

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Migi’s manner of reviving Shinichi is plausable within the construct of a show in which a character like Migi exists. The stabbing last week could have been construed as a cheap cliffhanger we knew would be resolved relatively simply, or the show intended it to feel like just another day in Shinichi’s Hell. It must also be pointed out that if Shinichi ever shows his chest to a physician ever again, there will be questions. Many, many questions.

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Poor Satomi has the worst timing this week (you could say, timing-wise, she’s…snake-bitten), as she stops by Shinichi’s just as he’s leaving to see his father at the hospital on the island where he and mom were staying. Satomi’s no fool, and sees that Shinichi is troubled by something; for Pete’s sake, he looks like he’s aged ten years! Dying for several minutes can do that.

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Shinichi’s relative cold shoulder isn’t just a factor of him wanting to protect her from the truth; he’s simply so emotionally on edge right now he simply can’t deal with something from his “normal world”, right now, which must’ve felt like it happened hundreds of years ago. His dad is in the hospital, his mom is dead, and he’s through with being Mr. Evolved Sensibility. He wants revenge.

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Did you notice how differently Shinichi’s father acted when his son was there, as opposed to earlier, when he was recounting his crazy story to the cops? He talks of a monster murdering his wife, but both the detectives and doctor believe he’s mixing reality and nightmares after suffering a head injury falling into the sea. A perfectly logical explanation. When Shinichi sees him, not only does Dad not want to cause a fuss in front of his son, but truly believes the explanation the others gave him.

When Shinichi mentions a monster, his dad just assumes he got the idea from an erratic phone call he made. In any case, Shinichi remains utterly alone in his knowledge of the Parasytes. Not that his dad’s continued raving would have accomplished anything. Two voices speaking about things like this carry no more weight than one.

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While staying at the inn owned by the family of a cute schoolgirl who he met on the boat to the island, Shinichi ponders his next move, and Migi finally awakens with important news: In his current physiological state, he now has to sleep four hours every day, and cannot be woken, even in an emergency. That’s bad news for Shinichi, who chose the inn specifically because it was within Migi’s detection range, but he can’t detect anything while asleep.

Still, Shinichi makes it clear that despite what his biology is saying to Migi, he no longer considers him an enemy, but a lifesaver and an ally. Admittedly, Shinichi could just be saying this because he doesn’t have a change against Not-Mom without his slippery friend.

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The innkeeper girl Mikako pretty much falls for Mr. Tall-and-Dark during his visit, and again, Shinichi simply has no time for love, as Migi finally detects a Parasyte. Shinichi rushes after it after only getting half of Mikako’s directions, but it’s all good because Migi further merging with his body has not only bestowed upon him heightened senses, but increased speed and strength. Are Not-Mom’s days numbered…or is Shinichi mistaken about the Parasyte Migi detected even being her?

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No Game No Life – Specials

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Like every other popular series, NGNL has released a handful of short-form special episodes. I’ve seen four of them so far, and I must sadly report that they fall way short of what we’ve come to expect from the [Blank] twins.

In a nutshell, each min special exists to remove Steph’s clothes again and plays with anime and gaming conventions as an excuse for not animating anything. Yes! I get text boxes and un-moving sprites are common in JRPGs but THEY DO NOT WORK IN ANIMATION.

You know, animation, the moving art form!

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Are they worth watching? No. No they are not.

However, a glimmer of hope for NGNL’s second season shines through as, despite being mostly empty, lazy unanimations, fragments of NGNL’s humor and social commentary creep through.

Still though, NGNL’s specials are a perfect example of phoning it in. Woof.

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – 06

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja’s sixth episode is all about the meaninglessness of conflict but its inescapability. This is an interesting premise to run for an episode, and doubly so for a young children’s show.

I’m honestly not sure what my three year old made of it? Unlike previous episodes, I didn’t read him the subtitles, which left his understanding of the events entirely up to his own interpretation.

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That meaninglessness of conflict is in almost every scene. The bandits and the robbers have a face off at hell’s gap, which results in nothing. How could it? Bolka doesn’t want Mattis’ side of the castle and Mattis cant well jump his mean across the game through Bolka’s men’s spears, can he?

The father’s have a stare down, and restate their dislike of each other, even though we also see them get along as children via a flashback. It seems that Mattis’ dad and Bolka’s father didn’t like each other either and went out of their way to separate the boys at the beginning. Probably because their dad’s did the same thing…

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Later, while Ronja is running through the woods to get away from the conflict of the castle, Birk invades her private time from his perch up in a tree. Ronja is mad, understandably, but even more so because she can’t get away from the fight.

And what’s the purpose of the fight anyway? Birk gains nothing by bothering her and it’s not like the forest isn’t big enough for both of them. (and probably a thousand children more) But they are both there, they are from both from families in conflict and they have no one else to engage with.

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As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t read the subtitles to my child this episode. I didn’t do this intentionally, rather I was called away by work and only returned towards the end of the episode. (I rewatched it later, of course)

I found it interesting that he sat through the entire episode anyway, which is more than can be said for other children’s shows I turn on in French, German or Italian. He really is transfixed by Ronja and, to some degree, must enjoy imagining what they are saying as much as being told about it.

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – 05

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I’ve put off reviewing Sanzoku no Musume Ronja’s for a few episodes now. Difficulty in ‘scheduling’ a review time with my toddler aside, this show provides very few opportunities to write more than a summary or note that children really like it.

That isn’t an excuse for me to drop it. On the contrary, I enjoy watching this show. I just don’t have much to say about it.

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To summarize week 5: Ronja meets Birk, the son of the other bandit lord of the forest. Birk was born the same night as Ronja and,like Ronja, has come to emulate his father’s slightly smug, superior attitude. Like their father’s before them, these two immediately dislike each other.

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So, obviously, they have a leaping contest across hell’s gap and, eventually, Birk falls in. As this is a kid’s show, he doesn’t fall to his death but, instead, is saved by luck and Ronja’s rope.

This scene was especially concerning for my three year old, who was enthralled with the leaping back and forth and totally shocked when Birk fell out of view. There was real panic in his eyes and fear to mirror Ronja’s as she tried to pull Birk back up.

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No doubt the following scenes where Mattis shouts at Ronja for ‘making up a story’ touched my child too. We aren’t in a ‘lie to daddy’ phase yet, but he knows being yelled at for doing dangerous things and I’m confident he could project his feelings and assumptions onto Ronja.

By episode’s end, the second bandit tribe is known to have invaded the northern half of the castle and Ronja’s dad is going to have to deal with that. Easier said than done! That’s 10 foot gap’s defensive advantage cuts both ways!

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As always, Ronja’s strength is it’s central characters. Mom. Dad. Little Girl and now a human friend slash enemy. It’s charming to see Ronja’s expressions and body language ape Mattis’ and I’m starting to accept this would have been much more difficult to achieve without CGI.

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The 12 Anime I dropped in Fall 2014

I started Fall 2014 with 22 shows on my review docket and eight more that I was just watching. Now, at the half way mark, that number has dropped to 10 being reviewed and four just watching.

The following is a list of the 12 shows I dropped, why I dropped them, and why you may want to give them a second chance.

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12. Karen Senki

Pounding action, slick sexy ladies with eye patches fighting robots and so little time to breath. The action is so constant, and so over the top, it wears out its welcome very quickly.

Worth watching if you want dumb action, especially if you can string a bunch of the episodes together. It’s also sort of attractive looking, as long as you aren’t turned off by the 3D CGI.

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10-11. Tribe Cool Crew and Kaito Joker

Both shows were harmless upbeat and kid friendly and nothing more interesting than that could be written about them. Additionally, I can only assume Kaito Joker was a parody of #8 Magic Kaito, which itself was a fairly young-audience focused show to begin with.

Both are worth watching if you want kid-friendly shows that are currently on the air.

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9. SHIROBAKO

This technically excellent, very well drawn and written anime drowned me in its gigantic cast and a deeply technical presentation on how anime is made… which I already know about, professionally.

Worth watching if you want to know what it’s like working in a studio. Just be warned, like real life, several characters are annoying, flaky, damaged people.

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8. Magic Kaito 1412

This acceptable teen ‘master thief’ action, comedy, mystery, enemy of the week romp established its formula and season long mystery goal fairly early. Unfortunately, the formula (that Kid is always going to win and that most of his opponents are buffoons) and the convoluted plot about the fountain of youth being hidden in gems lost my interest.

Worth watching if you like the Lupin III genre, if that is actually considered a genre?

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7. Akatsuki no Yona

This bafflingly popular swords and generals Korean princess betrayal romance comedy action show is not really hate-worthy. Rather, it’s completely average in all areas: visual execution, plot complexity, pacing and romantic growth.

Worth watching if you already love the manga or want a Korean alternative to Samurai aesthetics in your romantic action drama.

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6. Grisaia no Kajitsu

After an enticing opening that played with uncomfortable emotions and agendas hidden mere inches under every surface, this show devolved into an oddly talky harem trope. It’s still weirdly funny and can be attractive when it needs to.

Worth watching if all you want is a weird and fan service-heavy harem show. Extra points if you can find it uncensored.

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5. World Trigger

Didn’t hook me with it’s pseudo-Power Rangers, so-bad-it’s-funny design. Nor did I find it’s cast of obnoxious middle school heroes as harmless as I did in TCC or Joker. It was almost funny bad.

Worth watching if you’re younger or have an old flame for the Kid-Ranger genre.

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4. Trinity Seven

What began as a typical demon lord enters magical school and must create a harem out of the strongest girls on campus genre anime…didn’t go much farther. One of our commenters suggested this show is making deep criticisms of the Japanese education system and, while I found his argument a brilliant read, it doesn’t change the fact that T7 is a deeply formulaic, fanservice-driven show on the surface.

Worth watching if you like magical harem genre shows (it has decent boobies with minimal censorship) but be warned: T7’s color palette is very very gray…

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3. Nanatsu no Taizai

What truly boggles the mind about Seven Deadly Sins is the decision to run a kid-looking old man as it’s central heroThe criss-cross of his age is at odds with his function as an ultimate warrior in the princess’ time of need and as her constant sexual molester. Seven Deadly Sins avoids being the worst show of the season due to the fact that it set the bar so very low from the very beginning, that there’s no sense of loss by ignoring it.

Worth watching if you wanted more boob grabbing in Chaika or like Akatsuki no Yona but wanted more action and a One Piece-like art style.

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2. Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Big production goals and a grand plot about fantasy/medieval politics completely fell apart due to abrasive fanservice that had no reason for being there, shallow characters and, ultimately, a harem framework. Vanadis deserves a special spot in Anime Hell not just for being such a mess, but pretending it was something more from the get-go.

Worth watching if you want to watch women with giant tits yelling at each other while waving swords and, occasionally, need to have venom sucked out of their bodies.

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1. Hi Scoool! Seha Girls

Humor about Sega’s old gaming hardware, as told by anthropomorphic consoles, isn’t compelling in the best of light. Rendered in simplistic 3D CGI makes it all the uglier. There’s nothing else to it.

Watch this when you are ready to die inside.