Mayoiga – 02

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Mayoiga makes liberal use of its CGI bus model…until it careens down a muddy hill, leaving all the passengers to continue on foot…but not before tossing the bus driver all their wallets as compensation for getting them this far.

The thirty clean-slaters are all different, but they’re alike in one regard: they don’t much care about the driver’s dignity; or at least those who do don’t speak up strongly enough when it counts.

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We learn a little more about Mitsumune, like how Speedstar AKA Hayate is his classmate, friend, and long-time protector…and how he’s easily wooed by girls, due to not having much experience with them (all boy’s school).

With Koharun and her map, the group trudges through the forest, hoping to avoid bears (or bear-like monsters) and eventually come upon a bridge that leads to a village that matches the descriptive details Koharun has at hand. They’ve arrived at Nanaki Village.

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They soon determine that there’s nobody home, which is kind of strange to start. The village has been abandoned for at least a year. There’s no talk of food or lodging, just exploration in various random groups branching off from the whole.

Mitsumune had hoped to accompany Masaki, but he’s snagged by two other girls who seem to have plans for him. Speaking of plans, the sunglassed Yottsun seems to have unsavory ones for Masaki, and manages to end up alone with her. A strange shadow in the woods catches her eye, and that’s the last we see of either.

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Mitsumune, meanwhile, manages to ruin a potentially fun time with Maimai by congratulting himself on not getting so hot and bothered in her presence, which is a little insulting. Maimai then reveals she was only going to toy with him, but they’re interrupted by the sudden emergence of the bus driver from the woods.

Was the driver the shadow Masaki saw? And what did the driver see after everyone left him? Who sent Koharun the anonymous email telling her how to get to the village? And, of course, what happened to Yottsun and Masaki? Is this group only the latest of many who have inhabited this lost village, and have they suffered their first two losses?

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Sakamoto desu ga? – 01 (First Impressions)

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The gist: Sakamoto-kun is the perfect man and everyone in school loves him… eventually. He wears glasses, is great at school, and no matter what his enemies try to do, he can not be affected by tricks, traps or bullying.

This week 3 thugs try to drop chalk erasers on his head, pour water over his bathroom stall, throw his deck out the window and even try to tie him up and take creepy photos. Then a typhoon tries to blow him away. Then the class’ male model tries to pull his chair out from under him, trick him into using a broken drinking fountain, and eventually hit him with a hornet.

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Each of these attacks end in failure and makes Sakamoto-kun looking even cooler to his class. He usually flips-off the viewer as he fixes his glasses in the process.

The thugs come to admire him, the male model becomes a standup comic and asks for Sakamoto’s help, and even the typhoon just gives up and gives way to clear sky… and gets Sakamoto into the newspaper for saving a wounded bird in the process.

Not even nature can defeat him!

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Why you should watch it: Theoretically, there is a point where a show is so bad that it becomes good again. I’ve never experienced this in Anime until tonight.

Sakamoto Desu Ga? is appallingly dull, blandly styled and .badly animated. It is a comedy where the biggest joke is the lameness of the jokes and the same basic joke is told each and every time.

I was laughing all the way through.

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Why? Take the above shot of the 3 thugs as an example: I kid you not the first 90 seconds of the episode is this same static shot of them tossing a volley ball back and forth grumbling about Sakamoto, then mid anime the same shot for 90 seconds grudgingly admiring him, then at the end of the show in the dark with the thugs wondering how long they have to stay there playing volley ball.

While the same thug drops the ball each time, there’s nearly no action. The gestures are small and repeated. The dialog is not punchy or meaningful but it’s so brazenly ridiculous. It’s KNOWING humor.

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The verdict: To be clear Sakamoto Desu Ga? is absolutely terrible. I absolutely officially rate it a 5 for being ugly and using one joke repeated over and over again (Sakamoto can not be defeated) and that joke is so simple and persistent that, like Sakamoto’s own enemies, I can’t help but find him charming at the end.

This is Spring 2016’s first must watch!

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Ushio to Tora – 28

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The East/West youkai decide Asako can go on her merry way, but Mayuko is to be sacrificed. Obv., Asako ain’t taking that sitting down, and tries with everything she has to fight back, but the monsters are too strong.

Asako’s only kept from being killed by the barrier when Mayuko starts flexing her oyakume descendant muscles, saving her with a protective magic. I’ll admit, it’s a little strange seeing Mayuko use magic, but all this hullabaloo seems to have awakened her true power.

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Mayuko is willing to be thrown into the forge, but Asako stops the youkai, and offers herself as a sacrifice so Mayuko can perform her duties as the oyakume. Mayuko doesn’t like this one bit, but she can’t stop Asako from sacrificing herself. Only Ushio and Tora, arriving in the nick of time, can do that.

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For a second there, I really thought this was the end for Asako, which would make things very tragic indeed for Ushio, who’d have to carry on fighting Hakumen having lost one of the people most important to him in the world. Indeed, Asako only remembers Ushio when she’s about to leap into the flames—and she does leap in—but Ushio jumps in before her and catches her.

Both of them are badly scorched, and the youkai start attacking them mercilessly for interrupting their plan, but Tora steps in to take the punishment, and Mayuko uses her magic to protect them and eject them from the building.

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Of course, things aren’t any safer out there: a Tora lookalike named Guren has arrived to fight the youkai and destroy the Beast Spear on behalf of Hakumen. Guren’s crew and the youkai engage in an aerial battle while Ushio, Tora, and the girls fly away with Jeimei.

Saya enlists Kappa to help heal Asako’s burns, but Ushio doesn’t have time for medical attention, and rushes back into the fray, even against those who no longer know who he is and don’t wish him well. Tora, unable to let his meal get killed by someone else, soon follows him, and the two show the youkai how well they fight together, and that the present Beast Spear is still a powerful weapon.

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Before Ushio returns, Mayuko leaves with Jeimei to fulfill her destiny, leaving Asako with Saya and the Kappa. When Ushio and Tora get back, Mayuko is gone, but Ushio doesn’t persue her. He knows he was lucky to come away from the day with one of his friends alive and free. He’s going to trust in Mayuko’s strength, get back to the fight with Hakumen, and eventually come to get her back.

Things are still in a pretty dark place in Ushio to Toraland: Asako’s in bad shape, while most everyone still forgets who Ushio is, and may well still be convinced a new Beast Spear needs to be forged. I’m guessing he has to address the mass amnesia (which is likely curable) and get his allies back before he can fight Hakumen in earnest. Lots of trials still ahead for our hard-headed protagonist.

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Kagewani: Shou – 02

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Prisoner 44 is being transferred by train to somewhere. He’s guarded by a hard-ass know-nothing detective but the train is full of civilians and gets attacked by a giant acid spewing monster early on.

Using team work and the monster’s own stupidity, 44 and the Detective separate the front locomotive from the rest of the train, and the monster goes flying off a cliff at the next hair pin turn.

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While the over arching plot was fine, the pacing was just awful. At barely 7 minutes in length, it actually felt padded. The animation is very slow, characters pause and look at things purposefully, despite the speeding train and threat of cliff-based-doom.

And really, in a world with this many constant monster attacks, it’s just not believable theres no believability in the detective not knowing about them, nor people standing around gawking at them only to be eaten/melted for dawdling.

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Where the opening episode was enjoyable for its methodical pace and creepy vibe, this episode’s focus on action — but still being slow about it — just didn’t work.

Sprinkle in the evil army organization that grabs 44 at the end to transport him to wherever and Kagewani doesn’t seem like it knows what to do with it’s meager resources.

This is really not a good sign.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 02

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Picking up right where we left off, Luluco is still in Justice Gun-mode, midterm exams are still being interrupted and the alien teacher doesn’t seem to have a care in the world.

Then a meteor hits, destroying another corner of the room, and transfer student Alpha Omega Nova is introduced. He is also part of Space Patrol and accompanies Luluco on her return to headquarters.

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Luluco and Aon exposition us some context on their walk: Japan was forced to sell the town to alien developers because it was bankrupt as a nation (but got very little from the sale). We also learn Luluco can’t recognize aliens at a glance, which Aon speculates to mean she can see something deeper.

At headquarters, Aon transforms into a much cooler gun form and interrogates the student prisoner, Chief flaming skull makes Aon and Luluco partners, and Luluco has what can only be described as a galactic climax…

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Luluco’s canon orgasm was fantastic. Aon casually executing the student prisoner after the interrogation was fantastic. Chief flaming skull, who is permanently in ‘shocker’ pose was fantastic. However, because episode 2 focused on story and love interest building, there was a lot less humor in general.

Based on the first episode, I had expected SPL to be a string of semi-connected nonsequiturs, not a continuous storyline. While minis as ‘slices of a single episode’ is usually disappointing because a bigger budget may have given us more fun to see, what we have is still brilliantly insane.

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Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta? – 01 (First Impressions)

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It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve watched a long-titled school quartet rom-com—KonoSuba doesn’t count b/c it took place entirely in a fantasy world (and didn’t have any rom; just com).

NetoYome, which I’m shortening this to for now, has a distinct game world and real world, and the group of four close friends and colleagues in the online RPG Legendary Age are actually quite distant in the real world…at least at first.

That distance is there despite all four members of the Alley Cat Guild going to the same school. It’s that intrigue; that sense of dual personalities, one of which is concealed by the anonymity of the net, that provides appeal initially.

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Of course, we realize before Nishimura Hideki who his fellow guild members are in real life. The shy girl who doesn’t show her face is clearly Tamaki Ako; enough seems a bit off about Student Council President Goshouin Kyou to suspect her, and Segawa, turning her nose up at Hideki’s public otakuism, is clearly being a hypocrite.

The last hint needed is that Hideki once confessed to a cute catgirl who turned out to be a guy in real life, making him swear off falling for girls in the game until he got over it and realized it doesn’t really matter what gender people are in the real world, becaue LA isn’t real. As long as their in-game alias is cute, he’s fine with it.

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Of course, things change when the guildmaster Apricot announces an offline get-together, and the four classmates come face-to-face with each other and learn that rather than three guys and a girl, their party is actually three girls and a guy.

Despite all the telegraphing it’s a legitimately exciting moment, whether it’s Ako suddenly realizing it’s okay to act towards Hideki the way she does in-game, to Kyou being able to discern who is who, to Segawa’s hypocrisy being exposed, and having no defense.

She is who she is; it doesn’t change the fact she still thinks Hideki is gross!

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In fact, all four members are who they are; and that’s why they’re so likable; they’re genuine. When it comes down to it, even the tsundere Segawa doesn’t deny her nature. She won’t date anyone in the real world despite getting offers because it would take away from what she truly enjoys: playing LA with the others.

I was also touched when Ako voiced her relief and joy that she can consider her comrades real friends she can talk to, as to this point she’s had no friends (neither has Kyou). Or Hideki telling Segawa he much prefers who she is to her school persona. Or Hideki hardly being able to believe his luck that this time the cute waifu he chose in-game is actually a cute real girl offline.

It started a little slow (the RPG action early on was pretty lame), but NetoYome gradually grew on me. It’s cute, it’s earnest, and it’s got lots of heart and rom-com potential.

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