ISUCA – 03

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On the realization that last week’s romp wasn’t that bad, I’ve decided to share reviewing duties with Zane. And this episode wasn’t that bad either. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. I can’t speak to how ISUCA compares to similar shows Franklin dropped, but I’m not willing to revisit those, and neither is Zane. Also, there are only seven episodes remaining, so it’s not like we’re wasting our lives here.

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Shinichirou (lets go ahead and shorten that to “Shin”) is excelling at his job as Sakuya’s trainer, to the point Nadeshiko has him move into Sakuya’s house full-time, something both of them are a little apprehensive about, because of the romantic tension and all. Their classmates can see the two have become an item; they’re just unaware of how strange an item they make.

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Anywho, we delve a little deeper into Sakuya’s family politics. Specifically, her cousin Suseri is going after her top spot. She’s also caught wind of Shin’s power, so despite being a sheltered girl unaccustomed to dealing with men in any way, it isn’t long after she introduces herself that she slips into his bath and starts washing his back with her boobs. She’s really sheltered.

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Okay, that’s pretty damn terrible, I know, but so damn cheeky and ridiculous that it circles back around to being kind of good, if that makes any sense (if it doesn’t, tough ^_^)

Also ridiculous and bizarre? When Suseri attempts to kidnap Shin (of course), her limo is suddenly pulled into another dimension where they are attacked by a pack of carnivorous gloom cars, the leader of which is a Honda S800 (thanks Zane). The badass Shimizu-trained driver is suddenly gooshed, raising the stakes nicely.

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Suseri isn’t strong enough on her own to defeat the Honda, so she demands Shin kiss her so she can power up. Before they can kiss, however, Sakuya looses an arrow between them, having broken through the barrier into this otherworld.

Nadeshiko then gets the bright idea to pile everyone into the limo, but doesn’t have the keys to start it (certainly a car that old could be hotwired?) Anyway, the Honda starts to crush them, and Sakuya conveniently ends up in the position where only she, not Suseri, can kiss Shin. When she does, the resulting powering-up destroys the evil Honda, and they return to the normal world.

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There, Suseri asks Sakuya once more if she’ll give her Shin. Sakuya refuses, but Suseri lets it go, but only for now; she still intends to usurp her. As for the man in the middle, Shin seems slightly more beholden to Sakuya, but if he had met Suseri first, I imagine he’d be more beholden to her. Still, as a high school guy with a cat-girl familiar who doesn’t wear underwear and two rich, powerful girls fighting over him, Shin doesn’t exactly have it that bad, does he?

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Durarara!! x2 Shou – 04

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You Do NOT Pick on Mikado…and you do NOT take a Kodata punch.

For three weeks, we’ve watched intently and patiently as Durarara!! built another painstakingly insane Rube Goldberg machine with a combination of familiar and new faces. This week, the machine is complete, and all that’s left is to switch it on and hope it works. Well, it not only held together, but blew me away. Even more amazing? For our friends, this was a day off.

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Let’s merge these chases!

Rather than a changing of the guard, this culmination was an initiation for the communities newbies.  The existing team isn’t going anywhere, necessarily, so the new guys will be augmenting and adding complexity…which is in ample supply this week.

The van quartet, fresh from rescuing the twins, also show up in time to rescue Mikado, Anri, and Aoba, and all of a sudden the van’s at capacity with the zebras on their back. In a brilliant piece of synergy, their chase merges with Celty’s, and the only way to get the kids safe is to hold the stampede off.

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“Time to do my thing.”

Celty finds an underpass and does just that, using her Dullahan skills to form a barrier. But even if the force against her is mostly numbskulls, there are hundreds of them, and she’s not about to kill anyone today.

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“Your assistance is appreciated.”

When her web starts getting holes, the man in her package pops out to help, looking a lot like a lanky Freddy Krueger. They’re also assisted by a headless suit of armor, which we see at the beginning is in Ruri’s workshop. This episode is called “Do as the Romans Do”, and Ruri and “Freddy” are in Rome, so they dive right in to help Celty.

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You tore my shirt and dropped by 500-yen coffee. Prepare to DIE.

The Zebra gang is soundly beaten, but because they know their boss won’t tolerate them crawling home with their tails between their legs, they try to find a tough rival gang to dice with. Bad move. Those unwelcome in Rome who pick fights meet a sticky end…and I’m not just talking about Shizuo’s spilled Starbucks.

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“Why don’t you smile?” “I AM smiling.”

Meanwhile, Kasuka makes what is the beginning of a beautiful personal relationship with Ruri a professional one as well, getting her signed to his agency after the CEO of hers has turned up missing. Ruri remarks how there’s so much she hasn’t told Kasuka about her, like what the missing CEO did to her, how she became Hollywood, and plenty else besides.

Kasuka doesn’t want to hear it; but not because he’s being insensitive. He’s afraid if she’s allowed to say everything she wants, she’ll think she’s free to die, and he doesn’t want her to die. Not only that, when she threatened to kill him, he got flustered and excited; he felt emotion. He’s not going to let someone who can affect him in that way go easily. But Ruri has found kinship in Celty and Egor and tasted life in Rome, so perhaps Kasuka is worrying too much.

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“I love it when a plan comes together!”

Speaking of Doing as the Romans Do, the Izaya twins decide to craft a scheme that would make their big brother Orihara proud…if they happened to care about his opinion, that is. That scheme starts with finding Celty’s ¥1 million, and ends with Celty getting all ¥1 million back…though in a way that the twins get a first-hand look not only at Celty, but all the other crazy shit going down in this town. In other words, an adventure far more exciting and fun than a boring sightseeing tour.

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The million comes back to Celty two ways: paying Shinra ¥200K for patching up Egor, then via the Sushi Head Chef (repaying the twins for fronting the Shinra cash) by hiring Celty to transport Egor in a bag for ¥800K. It gets Celty out in the open, and the twins a front-row seat. It also caused a lot of collateral damage, but most of that affected the biker gangs and bounty hunters, who were asking for it making such a stink in Ikebukuro anyway.

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While that busy day may have initiated, the twins and Egor to the Way Things Work in Rome, while adding their own mayhem to the formula, they still retire to their own apartment for a quiet celebratory meal. They’re not Dollars, after all; not yet, anyway.

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Back in possesion of her ¥1 million, Celty decides to learn how to cook, in order to be a better girlfriend to Shinra. In her choice of women, she demonstrates how your first (Anri) or second (Erika) contact may not have what you’re looking for (and let’s face it, those two just aren’t cooks, through and through) one or both of them are sur eto know someone who does, i.e. Mika, who is a top-notch cook.

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And in the process of searching for one, Celty turned the one-on-one lesson into a cooking class, which results in Shinra’s suggestion for a big Dollars hot pot party. While voicing her worry that continuing dangerous jobs will put Shinra and her other friends in danger, Shinra’s response is perfect:

“We’re family, so a little trouble doesn’t faze me…And if I can scale that wall with you, no predicament on earth can ever feel like trouble to me…See, I was able to overcome the greatest wall of all, getting you to love me, right?”

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We’ll see if that testimony holds up, because as Izaya remarks to Namie as the two observe the post-party-they-weren’t-invited-to chatter online, this was everyone’s day off. Soon, vacation will be over. Not only that, there’s another newcomer to Rome—Aoba—firing up a new gang to rival the Dollars and stir up his own trouble, but first aiming to get rid of Orihara.

Be it Aoba, Egor, Ruri and Kusaka, or the Izaya twins, haven’t quite experienced this place when the sparks are really firing. This episode’s dark closing ellipsis may foretell a time in the near future when the twins’ scheme, as fantastic and entertaining a machine as it was, will be seen as a harmless toy by comparison.

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ISUCA – 02

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Every once or twice in a decade, the fates conspire to bring us a truly great and unique work of art that is so bowl-you-over astonishing, it captures the imagination of the entire planet. I think I speak to all who have experienced it that Isuca episode two is that…and more.

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High school girls undressing in the locker room? Pretty standard fare. But a carpet of rats suddenly bursting out of a locker, knocking the half-naked girls over, and proceeding to eat them alive as they’re sexually aroused? We’re at the pinnacle, ladies and gentlemen. Savor it…for it will never be this good again.

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Yes, that review above was just an illusion, borne from ISUCA sucking your life force right out of you. In reality, Preston has punted this to me. The thing is, it’s(uca) not as an excruciating ordeal as it sounds. This episode was mostly harmless, and surprisingly fun. Devoid of any semblance of weight or significance, yes; simple and innocuous, sure…yet sometimes rubbing up against something resembling slyness. In other words, it was a pussycat. A pussycat going commando.

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Tama, the two-tailed cat specter Sakuya is about to pierce with an arrow last week, becomes Asano Shinichirou’s familiar when he happens to learn her true name, after recalling a stray cat in a box that he must have cared for. She tries to help him deal with the Rat King baddie, but runs out of go-juice, AKA life force.

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Now that is simply a masterful landing, worthy of song; not to mention Tusk’s approval. To not only land face up from such a great height without breaking one’s back, but to have one woman’s face land on your crotch, and another girl’s crotch landing on your face, all inches from the bones of eaten classmates…I ask you: What else is there to say? #weareallasano.

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We learned from visiting her house that Sakuya is a hopeless slob, and so her and Shinichirou’s teacher (and associate of Sakuya’s family) appoints Shinichirou as her maid. But despite the squalor she’d lived in up to that point, she harbors an unreasonable fear or rats and cockroaches, rendering her fairly useless. This week she’s one of the people standing around while others do something.

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And that something is…making out, complete with tongue and drool. ISUCA would be a pretty workaday fantasy action joint, only it aims to distinguish itself by inserting sex pretty much anywhere it can, like a shoplifter stuffing Slim-Jims into their many trench coat pockets. This is not a new concept. But even with the silly ecchi elements, the danger has a nice sharp edge to it.

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Shinichirou’s life force turns out to be SURGE to Tama, who takes out the Rat King with laughable ease, and a fair amount of badassery. Only, when she’s back to her normal self, she’s holding her pray in her mouth like a cat, proud to be presenting a gift for her master (I know, it’s debatable whether that’s what cats do, but let me dream, man!). 

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So we have Sakuya the Slob hiring Shinichiru as her housemaid, and Shinichirou having Tama, whom he names “Tamako”, as his eternal retainer, who’ll have to periodically make out with him to stay alive, which is a pretty good deal, as they’ve each saved each others’ lifes at least twice at this point. That brings us to the fact that Tama is Special; a vessel for freakishly high-level spiritual power. And he makes a mean stir-fry.

Wait…is that RAT MEAT? WHAT IS THIS, SKYRIM?

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Durarara!! x2 Shou – 03

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Drrr!!x2 continues its free-wheeling pulp-fiction-style non-linear storytelling. This week we get more pieces of the puzzle started in the first two, and the image we start to see is that while Ikebukuro is full of misfits of one sort or another, there is a class of misfit above the rest with supernatural powers that finds it particularly hard to exist in the normal world. But while that world isn’t easy, it isn’t unforgiving.

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The “Zombie” Shizuo duels (and defeats) is Hollywood, the serial killer who has been tearing people apart. Shizuo’s brother Kasuka learns that Hollywood is really idol, actress, and master makeup artist Hijiribe Ruri. He takes her to his place and has Shinra come by to patch her up, and they learn she has healing powers on par with Shizuo and Celty. In other words, another ‘S-class misfit’.

Kasuka may not have super-strength, but he’s on their same level; he wields a tremendous amount of power, but through his charisma, not his muscles. Ruri wields through both, but at different ends of her personality. He can relate to Ruri’s feeling like she’s on the wrong planet. And as much as growing up with Mitsuo stunted Kasuka’s ability to express his emotions, he still has them, and gathers insight from his acting roles to make sense of them.

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In this regard, he saved Ruri despite knowing what she is, because she was a damsel in distress, and anyone who’d ignore or forsake her isn’t a man. This is obviously quite hubristic, as Ruri could have easily killed him at any time, but Kasuka put her life before his own. Her alias may be Hollywood, but he’s the one following the classic script of the dashing knight in shining armor, albeit an expressionless one.

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Kasuka arranges to have Celty deliver Ruri back to her place safe and sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if he chose Celty specifically so Ruri can see how another S-Class misfit survives and thrives in the modern, mundane world where absolutes aren’t allowed and nothing is sacred. Celty’s kindness inspires Ruri to rethink her plight in life. Yes, she’s a monster, but that’s nothing to apologize for, as it’s nothing she can change, and monsters can enjoy life too.

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That’s just Kasuka and Ruri’s part in this episode. We get a better idea of the timeline of events because Shinra is involved in many of them (he had a long and busy night!). He’s ripped away from Ruri to fix up the guy the twins found and brought to Russia Sushi, chats about Ruri with his dad, who wanted her as a test subject, and is swarmed on the way home by tabloid reporters who saw him exit Kasuka’s house.

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The next morning, Saburou and Mairu are beside themselves at the news their respective true loves ended up with each other instead of them. There’s no solace for Saburou save Kyouhei’s insistence he’s more wholesome than the bickering, twisted Erika and Walker, but Kururi calms Mairu down with a long kiss.

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Their PDA gets the attention of a particularly ridiculous-looking gang of thugs who surround them menacingly, but Kyouhei & Co. pass by just in time to shoo them off, and the twins show they can handle themselves against small fry if they have to. Ikebukuro may be crawling with potential trouble, but there’s also a potential ally around every corner. Forget six degrees of separation; most of the cast are only one or two away.

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While not quite on the same existential level as our S-Classes, Mairu and Kururi are still misfits in this city, with ideas and attitudes that may clash with the conventions of the world they live in. But like Celty staying one step ahead of the bounty hunters, Mitsuo punishing petty thieves, or Kasuka and Ruri staying one step ahead of the tabloids, if the world doesn’t have a place for you, you make one.

I wonder what kind of misfit Aoba is. Another student and manipulator of humanity, and Izaya’s successor? Or something else? Let the tour of Ikebukuro begin.

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ISUCA – 01 (First Impressions)

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The rundown: One night Asano Shinichiro is captured by a specter but is saved by a mysterious ponytailed archer, who turns out to be his classmate Shimazu Sakuya, head of a clan tasked with sealing specters. When a powerful specter attacks the school, Sakuya is overpowered (and stripped down), but Shinichiro is able to rescue her. After they accidentally kiss, she levels up and successfully seals the specter.

What worked: Frankly, not a lot. After watching an episode of the caliber of Tokyo GhoulISUCA felt a bit…lobotomizing. The properly creepy centipede woman marks a promising start. There were also a few moments (just a few) in which the dialogue reached that difficult-to-nail Akame ga Kill! combination of peril and comedy. I also liked the two-headed cat design.

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What didn’t work: Hmm…where to start? Well, how about the beginning: We get a woman flashing her (censored) boobs in the first ten seconds. The school scenes prior to messed-up things going down are pedestrian at best. Shinichiro is a fairly valiant fellow and Sakuya is feisty and cute, but let’s not kid ourselves: we’ve seen these archetypes umpteen times, and ISUCA brings essentially nothing new to the table.

I won’t decry the abundance of fan service, seeing as how that’s one of ISUCA’s listed genres…but there was an awful lot of convenient physics in play, from lightning with the precision of a tailor to the face-crotch and kiss-fall. Also, the fact that having the life sucked out you being a pleasurable experience is clearly a shameless excuse for Sakuya to tilt her head back and make funny noises.

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The verdict: ISUCA has a few moments that are genuinely fun and entertaining, and quite a few more moments that are either exceedingly dumb or derivative or both. The ecchi elements vary from eye-rolling to smirk-worthy, while animation varies from crappy to passable.

I won’t be overly hyperbolic: this show wasn’t patently terrible, just…disposable. It’s just not anything that sets my heart ablaze. I’ll have no trouble waiting for the next episode. It’s watchable…if nothing else is on, and I don’t feel like using my brain for a half-hour.

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Juuou Mujin no Fafnir – 01 (First Impressions)

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Juuou Mujin no Fafnir is terrible. There’s no avoiding that and no value in digging deeper than that. It has one of those narrated openings that tells us that monsters showed up for now reason and without warning and that people started to gain abilities like monsters…

…and then dumps us on an island with a teenage boy who’s drawn like he’s twelve stumbling on a girl who looks about the same who’s naked on a beach for no reason. His sister is there, though not naked, and she’s the student council president at the all-girls school that he’s enrolled in 120 seconds later. JMnF is a cliche, pure and simple.

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If you liked World Breaker last season, and if this show’s dialog eventually manages  irony, without sounding forced, then maybe you would like it. The art is sub par. The effects are sub par. The animation is sub par. The voice actors are doing all the can but the writing is a smelly turd.

If you can get through all of that, or if you are massively desperate for loli no-nipple boobs, loli-harem, then maybe. Maybe you would watch this.

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But realistically you wouldn’t watch this. Even in a slow season, there are shows you’ve missed in previous seasons you can go back and watch or games to play or for God sakes go read a book.

Don’t watch this show!

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – 04

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For my 100th review on Rabujoi, I sat down with my son and watched Sanzoku no Musume Ronja’s fourth episode.  Frankly, it leaves me a bit muddled, reviewer wise. In some ways, this week was even prettier than the previous 3. It’s fall colors are just wonderfully vibrant and little details like dead leaves floating in the lake sell it flawlessly.

The plot moves along too but, for some reason, we get two flashbacks as well and those feel entirely unnecessary. Believable? Maybe? I can understand adults would tell a child the same stories over and over again but it felt arbitrary. Like the episode needed to frame the ending scene as a cliff hanger instead of resolving it.

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Ronja is now more familiar with her surroundings and comfortable doing all sorts of adventure — including a rock climb up her castle’s mountain base.

As with previous outings, Ronja’s sense of wonder and happiness is contagious. My toddler son was absolutely glued to the laptop screen, giving me updates on what Ronja was doing and what she was feeling.

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Another interesting detail is how we see Ronja’s expressions emulating her father’s expressions. She yells at the harpies and squints defiantly just like him. It’s reasonably subtle but you get the sense that she’s daddy’s little girl, with very little of her mother’s common sense and community anchoring.

That isn’t to say Ronja doesn’t love her mother. There’s a lovely bed time song scene that, unfortunately, had dreadful lyrics that don’t culturally translate when you’re reading them to your own child. Still, it’s a lovely scene.

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Then Ronja explores the castle’s guts and, eventually, encounters a boy. We’ve known this was coming since he’s shown in the ending credits, and we can assume he’s the other tribal chief’s son, but it will be interesting to see how these two get on.

Honestly, I’d assumed Ronja would meet him on her own terms BUT on his turf in the forrest. Nice contextual touch that ‘the forrest has gotten too dangerous in early fall due to the harpies (mating season?). Regardless, we can expect a battle of the ‘who’s better at making terrible decisions and jumping across a gorge’ next week.

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As always, Ronja is lovely but you have to go into it knowing that you are watching a children’s story. It’s well produced and watchable by adults (more so than all children’s swill-shows I can think of, actually) but it is for them and not for us.

If you’ve got a little one, and are willing to let them watch age appropriate anime, this is worth a little sit down. It has none of the normal moralistic shove-a-message-down-your-throat of american/british children’s TV and that’s a good thing.

If you don’t have kids and want… well I don’t know what you would want from a meandering children’s tale about growing up and adventure with low stakes? It should be pretty obvious if this one isn’t for you.

Still, even though it’s not for me, Ronja is clearly a great show.

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – 03

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja’s third episode improves upon its opening by focusing on Ronja and giving us a little excitement and just a little life-or-death tension. I wouldn’t call it gripping or high art, but Ronja’s day in the woods is satisfying and a little unusual for child-centric programming.

However, this week’s biggest difference was on my end: I watched it with my 3-year old-son.

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My son’s only question this week? “Where’d this squirrel go?”

My son is a big Studio Ghibli fan and regularly asks for Kiki or Totoro or Spirited Away before nap time. However, he experiences those movies dubbed in English, which made my reading Ronja’s subtitles novel and a bit more like watching an animated book than a cartoon.

No surprise, he was totally transfixed. Ronja’s emotions over-wrote his emotions. For the 15 minutes she was happily running through the woods, he was happy and laughing and for when she was scared by the Gray Dwarves, he was scared too.

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Like the harpies, the gray dwarves are hella creepy!

I must say Ronja is very effective for a young audience. In this episode at least, Ronja had enough action to keep my mind from going numb too. Still, almost half of its run time featured a girl running around laughing at the wonder of the world, without plot or greater purpose than that.

So is Ronja something for an adult to watch alone? No, not really. Ronja lacks that lovely spark at the soul of Ghibli’s other films. Ronja has none of their depth of world nor scenario. it’s just a child’s tale, thankfully missing the obnoxiously educational format of most western children’s programming.

But it is a children’s story first and only.

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World Trigger – 01

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It’s Astro Boy without the retro charm. It’s Power Rangers without colorful suits. It’s completely loveless, artistically feeble and a juvenile short-kid power fantasy. It’s World Trigger.

Here’s the gist:

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Years ago, a dimensional gateway opened in the city and white armored monsters (that seem on par with a dinosaurs’ capabilities but are impervious to most earth weapons) came out and destroy all military attempts to stop them, some how. The monsters are called NEIGHBORS, because… reasons.

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Then the day was saved by a secret organization known as the BORDER DEFENSE AGENCY. They’ve studied NEIGHBOR technology for years, some how, and swear to protect everyone. So they build a giant office building/fortress at the center of the city and everyone pretty much goes back to life as normal, i guess.

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If World Trigger had a shred of self awareness or irony, it could actually be hilarious. However, it does not and it is not funny, pleasant to look at, grating to listen to, slow, uneventful and awkward.

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It is as if World Trigger has gone out of its way to take a childlike view of the world. Teachers are mean and unreasonable. Bullies look like bullies and are funny when made to look silly. A hero should be totally moral to the point of idiocy. Also, short guys are really strong!

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If you want to watch World Trigger, I can’t stop you. Be warned though, it’s not even bad enough to be funny. It’s just terrible.

“Trigger On!”

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Pupa – 11

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Hasegawa Utsutsu has had to deal with a bevy of monsters in this series: the monster who put a cigarette out on him; the monster who took his and Yume’s genetic material; the monsters who captured and dissected him…and finally, the monster who uses him for sustenance so she won’t hurt anyone else, and according to him, looks cute when she’s had her fill. All things considered, that last monster doesn’t sound so bad…especially considering Utsutsu’s rapid-healing.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 21

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After the Dorssian Fuhrer reveals Rukino Saki’s immortality, he cuts to live footage of a reporter entering the hold of the Phantom and finding the humans being drained of runes, among them Iori’s father. The ARUS president declares all New JIORans dangerous lifeforms, and his soldiers commence the wholesale execution the students. He and the Furher also form a Dorssio-ARUS alliance, vowing to stamp out JIOR. The Valvraves scramble to cover the survivors’ escape, but students led by Iori trick Haruto and hand him and L-elf over in exchange for leniency. ARUS immediately double-crosses them, but Inuzuka shields them until they’re able to launch, and rescues Haruto and L-elf before dying in a blaze of glory.

It’s a near total defeat for the fledgling nation of New JIOR, as we see what happens when they play with fire and depend on such a small and fragile force to defend them. For all the weapons brought to bear on either side, and weapons they’ve endured, the ultimate weapon of their downfall turned out to be…PR. The instant wide-ranging media access meant to gather other nations to their cause was turned against them by the Council, a force far more skilled and experienced in its manipulation. Even if Shouko knew what the hell was going on, no one has the patience to hear any more explanations, as painfully demonstrated when a JIOR student comes forward to calmly explain – and gets a bullet in the head for his trouble. The bloody, merciless purge of unarmed, mortal students that follows is truly gut-wrenching and difficult to watch.

The show fixes an unblinking eye on the carnage, as classrooms are sprayed with bullets and terrified, cowering students are mowed down. As they’re being slaughtered like sheep, they turn on their once-saviors, and you really can’t blame them. For all the Valvraves’ heroics, they dug the graves of their countrymen by keeping them in the dark about so many important, dangerous things for too long. The truth didn’t kill them; being protected from the truth did. As we saw, an international summit on live TV was not the ideal time for Shouko or the world to learn such things. Now Shouko has turned away from Haruto, not knowing who he is anymore, while Haruto’s memories are literally shattering; L-elf is useless, Inuzuka is dead (in heroic fashion), Rukino is still imprisoned; and all of humanity have united against what’s left of New JIOR. They’ve never been more down, but they’re not out. Nothing is out of the question where this show is concerned.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Samurai Flamenco – 08

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King Torture orders the surrender of the government and the enslavement of the people, but the police rather than the JSDF are trusted with dealing with it. As Harazuka continually upgrades his gear, Flamenco and the Girls dispatch one monster after another without casualties, save the monsters themselves who self-destruct after defeat. Both Masayoshi and MMM’s careers start to skyrocket, though Mari is starting to get bored with fighting Flamenco’s leftovers, while Goto’s girlfriend warns him she’s scared of the new look in Masayoshi’s eyes.

We were caught off guard last week by the show’s sudden decision to introduce unrealistic monsters into the story without it being a dream or illusion, and were a little dubious of the execution, but after this week, we’ve come to like the suddenness. Being a superhero, Masayoshi focuses on defeating evil and protecting the people, so we don’t delve much into Torture’s origins or motives, which is good. They’re just the next level of baddies for Samumenco and the Samurai Girls to tangle with. We like how they’ve joined forces once again out of necessity for more muscle, but the same problems with their last teaming-up are still there: Mari doesn’t want to share the spotlight. This episode did a good job taking us by the hand and confidently guiding us smoothly through its new “monster milieu”, efficiently chronicling how things have gradually reached a new normalcy.

Torture’s declaration of war led the government to declare a state of emergency, but as the police and heroes polish off the monsters, the threat level is incrementally ratcheted, until they’re considering not even meeting about it every week. That could prove premature: because we know so little of King Torture, he’s basically capable of anything. Speaking of which, Masayoshi is feeling very invincible at the moment, fueled by Sumi’s encouragement, Jouji’s praise, and Harazuka’s gadgets. But his intention to barrel forward and take full advantage of this auspicious time in his life, while admirable, could also lead to his downfall. Things seem to be working out almost too well for him, too fast. The only ones who see are Goto and his girlfriend. The show is wisely keeping the new monster threat’s effect on the characters as important as (if not more so than) the threat itself.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)