Month: October 2016

Hey, It’s Fall 2016!

Hey, It’s Fall 2016!

It is Faaaaaallllllll Anime Season and that means several shows I’m super excited about are finally here! So let’s get started…

Most Anticipated Shows these are ones I’d been anxiously waiting for, reading all the updates, keeping close track of…so how did they do?

All Out!!

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I should be classier about this but straight up, I saw these butts in the opening and was filled with joy at the thought, “All Out!! is finally here!” That said, if you’re a person who isn’t thrilled at rugby butts, hear me out: the first episode was totally…normal. Gion is a short, fiery first year who runs into Iwashimizu, a very big but docile first-year. Iwashimizu’s senpai from middle school encourages them both to watch rugby practice but while Gion is excited about joining the rugby team, Iwashimizu swears he’ll never play rugby again. Blood, sweat, and tears full speed ahead.

Yuri!!! on Ice

Yuri is in a losing slump and debates quitting figure skating while his idol is considering retiring on a high note after a winning streak.

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It’s a season of exclamation marks and Yuri!!! on Ice merits every last one. Before you get the wrong impression from my screenshot (heh) I want to say that this show was actually a lot goofier than I expected. Being about men’s figure skating I expected it to take itself (too?) seriously but there was a lot of humor in this first episode. And we were treated to a beautiful sequence on ice (which almost made me cry because I thought of that scene in Death Parade).

Haikyu!!

The boys are getting fired up to play Shiratorizawa; the winning team goes to Nationals.

haikyu.PNGYes, I love sports anime. And Haikyu!! deserves love; it’s consistently perfect. Sooo excited that it’s back.

Drifters

Kurt Cobain once sang, “Where do bad folks go when they die?” Well, apparently they go to a hallway and end up in a mystical land with other bad folks and become Drifters.

Yes, finally one in my Most Anticipated category that isn’t a sports anime or riddled with exclamation marks. I love the mangaka and love the manga so I couldn’t wait to actually see this. I laughed a lot more than I expected at the dorkiness and honesty of it. Nobunaga asking about his son surprised me; I didn’t remember that from the manga and I felt that scene was done very well.

All in all, super happy with my top four.

Also Excited About… this category is for those shows I felt were a safe bet. I knew I’d love them, either because they were returning series, I was familiar with the source material, or I…just knew.

Tiger Mask W

A pair of pro wrestlers are out to avenge their master; one chooses to be the small-time rebel Tiger Mask and the other attempts to take the organization down from the inside as Tiger the Dark.

tiger mask.PNGThis one’s in the category of “just knew.” It has a great, manly feel to it. The art style and character design remind me of Toriko and every time I see Tiger the Dark I think, “Oh, it’s so good to see Starjun again.” If you like muscles, pro wrestling, and an old-school feel then check this one out.

Nanbaka

Four inmates have fun trying to escape the world’s most inescapable prison.

nanbaka

I read the manga via crunchyroll and knew this had to be good. It’s colorful, crazy, and fun. It’s just a good time.

Kiss Him, Not Me

A chubby fujoshi loses a ton of weight after being despondent for a week due to an anime tragedy. Now that she’s cute, she’s become popular and her life has turned into an otome game but she’d rather the boys love each other instead.

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Another one from crunchyroll manga that’s been dear to my heart ever since I started reading it. I really hope more guys give this one a try because it’s truly funny and well-done. Part of me feels like I should be offended that the basic moral of the story is, “If you’re cute, people will like you no matter how nerdy your hobbies.” But I give this show a pass because it is genuinely funny and entertaining.

khnm 2.PNG

Poco’s Udon World

A young man returns to his hometown after his father’s death and finds a kid with ears and a tail in his father’s closed noodle restaurant.

udon.PNGThis one…just looked so cute that from the time I saw the news about it, I wanted to watch it. Watching the first episode all I could think was, “This is Barakamon crossed with Sweetness & Lightning with a bit of the supernatural mixed in.” Which sounds great, right?!

Natsume Yujin-cho 5

Natsume is back hanging out with Nyanko-sensei trying to uncover the history of his grandmother and return names to yokai.

I know a lot of people who were crazy excited that this show had returned. While I’m not as huge of a fan, I do enjoy it and was fairly sure what to expect. As soon as the opening theme started I kind of laughed to myself and thought, “Yep, this is soothing, sleepy Natsume, same as always.” That said, I think the first episode was a great return.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Tekkadan is now famous but their work is just beginning as the political stakes are higher than ever and new recruits join the organization.

I didn’t really feel like I needed another season of this…until I watched the first episode and got goosebumps. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed Iron-Blooded Orphans.

Enter the Idols we have a few idol shows to choose from this season so they get their own segment.

Uta no Prince-sama Legend Star

Starish, Quartet Night, and Heavens are gearing up to compete; Nanami is composing songs for all three groups.

utapri.PNGThey knew exactly who their audience is and exactly what they wanted with this first episode. Two episodes in we’re seeing the typical UtaPri formula. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Dream Festival!

Fans shoot Cards to their idol on stage and that powers them up and determines their outfits.

dreamfest.PNG

We all know the idol character stereotypes and the general plot of most idol shows (to compete in some idol competition and win) but what’s different about Dream Fes is the Cards.

Magic-kyun! Renaissance

A girl struggles to follower in her mother’s footsteps learning magic at an academy with a variety of talented & hot guys.

magickyun.PNG

Be prepared to hear “kira kira!” a lot because Magic-kyun Renaissance is about…magic. And magic means sparkles! As with UtaPri and DreamFes, the first episode is mostly running around, coincidentally bumping into all the characters and getting an explanation of their skills and personalities. Magic-kyun has some dramatic elements and semi-random in-episode songs that reminded me a bit of Dance With Devils…which is actually a good thing.

Touken Ranbu-Hanamaru

Sword-boys hang out and do sword-boy things.

Yeah, I know that Touken Ranbu is sword-boys, not idols. However, after reading some comments about people upset about “yaoi” and “more effeminate men in anime” I decided to put Touken Ranbu-Hanamaru in this category. Cute boys hanging out doing cute boy things. It’s a thing, get over it. For anyone reading unfamiliar with the premise of Touken Ranbu, think KanColle but instead of ship-girls we have sword-boys.

Shorts we seem to have a lot of these this season, ranging from about 2-3 minutes to 10-12 minutes.

Gakuen Handsome

A BL parody based on the game of the same name.

I just recently started watching Gakuen Heaven so the first episode of Gakuen Handsome was hilarious to me. It’s not for everyone but it’s short and funny.

Ninja Girl & Samurai Master

A goofy, cute ninja goes to work for Nobunaga.

This exceeded my expectations. The first episode was funny and cute.

Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary

… I watched this but can’t really think of a synopsis. It’s about a boy and a zashikiwarashi? “This is the story of precious days spent with our yokai friends..” Yeah, that’s what it’s about.

Cheating Craft

A person’s life is determined entirely by a test; in this world there are learning types and cheating types.

I loved the look of the show but the first episode fell flat for me. I’ll give it another episode but I don’t know what it would take to make me care here.

Sengokuchojyugiga

History jokes abound with a unique art style.

I really liked this one. It was short but I really enjoyed the humor and look forward to more.

Miss Bernard Said

Miss Bernard likes to talk about books…without actually having read them.

Again, short & cute. I look forward to learning more about the characters.

To Be Hero

A playboy toilet seat designer gets turned into a slobbish hero.

I didn’t know anything about this going in but I loved the beginning. I cooled off a bit toward the end but I’ll give it another episode or two.

Gambles These were shows I felt tentatively excited about but didn’t have the confidence they’d be keepers. Some are types/genres that I don’t dabble in much but decided to go for it this season.

Izetta: the Last Witch

A young witch saves a princess of a tiny country held captive by Germans. Germanians?

I really liked this one. I liked the historical meets magical feel and I enjoyed the reunion of the girls. I had to laugh at the vision of two girls riding around on a giant rifle but I feel the show is so much more than that image. I’m excited about this series and feel like it has a lot of promise.

Trickster

It’s a detective agency (?) with a young adrenaline junkie and a kid who can’t die.

This one sounded interesting coming in but I felt the first episode was just so-so. I do think that this could be a show that picks up steam as it goes.

Magical Girl Raising Project

Girls (and a few boys) play a phone game that ultimately allows them to become magical girls. However, too many people have now become magical girls and it’s time for them to battle it out and whittle down the numbers.

What can I say? Don’t trust adorable little alien things! Or little black & white things! They may be cute but they’re wicked, wicked creatures. That aside, I really liked this one. It reminded me of Madoka Magica except that I actually like this.

Bloodivores

A bunch of criminals are in a survival game against weird monsters.

The second episode was better than the first but I’m not sure that’s saying much. It has a vampire meets Battle Royale feel and that’s not something I think I needed.

March Comes in Like a Lion

A professional shogi player has trauma but he’s friends with three sisters who try to make him less lonely.

I have high hopes for this one. The first episode was pretty artsy but that’s not exactly a bad thing.

Occultic;Nine

A guy wants more blog hits and weird shit is going down.

This was way goofier and erratic than I expected. The first episode didn’t exactly grab me but I’ll see what episode two brings. It reminded me somewhat of Durarara! so I’m hoping this show surprises me in a similar fashion.

Flip Flappers

A girl can’t decide what school she wants to go to and encounters another girl; together they end up in another dimension (?).

This was oddly fun. The dynamic reminded me of Pikari and Teko from Amanchu.

Classicaloid

Classical composers are presented with a new twist and crazy music powers.

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Okay, I picked this up because of Sugita-san’s role as Beethoven and actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s not deep or genius but it’s fun and I love Sugita-san’s voice.

Matoi the Sacred Slayer

A girl at a shrine gains magical power.

I’m interested in seeing where this goes. I’m not sure the first episode gave us enough of a taste.

Keijo!!!!!!!!

Girls compete for big money in a sport where they knock each other off of floating platforms using only their boobs or butts.

keijo.PNG

I should make fun of this but I actually loved it. It was interesting that the girls are older (which I guess they have to be or this would be borderline illegal). The premise was interesting and hilarious and I actually really liked the characters. You can’t beat a battle between boobs & butts.

So that’s it for new simulcasts! What are you watching? What do you love? What do you hate?

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There and Back Again: A Yuri Tale

Anyone who listens to me on the podcast or reads this blog knows I’m a huge fan of BL. But in the interest of fairness and expanding horizons, I’ve been trying to get into yuri. This project has been met with limited success; I tried reading Citrus and found both characters too unlikable to continue. I tried watching Sweet Blue Flowers and dropped it from boredom. So when I saw someone tweet excitedly about NTR Netsuzou Trap by Kodama Naoko, I thought I’d give it a try.

The manga begins with one girl (Hotaru) sliding her fingers up her friend’s (Yuma) skirt between her legs while their respective boyfriends are in front of them singing karaoke. I thought, “Well, these girls don’t waste any time!” but since I’d just read a BL with a guy’s ass in the air on the first page, I thought I shouldn’t rush to judgment.

But it didn’t really get any better from there. About halfway through I actually looked at the cover and went, “Wait, that’s their BOOBS?” But I reminded myself I’m often told that the glorious muscles on my anime boys are totally unrealistic so I figured I should accept totally unrealistic, really round and shiny and painfully-looking-pushed-together boobs also. And it’s not like I’m a noob; I don’t expect realism from drawn boobs. I don’t hate boobs of fantasy. I think I just couldn’t get past the awkward nature of the pose…but, I reminded myself, I’ve never smooshed my boobs against another girl’s and seen what they do (although just looking at that picture kind of makes them hurt) so, again, cut the manga a bit of slack.

I kept trying to look at the manga through a BL lens; yes, the plot was pretty basic and not very believable–but so are so many BL stories I love! Yes, the one character is the most oblivious, naive person in the world to the point of wanting to choke her–but so are so many BL characters! Yes, one character is frustratingly convoluted and sadistic and has yet to demonstrate any redeeming quality–but so are so many BL characters! So why can’t I like this story?!

When I first got into BL, my brother’s theory was that since I can’t relate to the majority of shojo heroines, BL was likely more relatable to me. I’m a tomboy and hung out with boys way more than girls so BL seemed like a no-brainer. I’ve read other theories that women enjoy BL because it’s the opposite-it’s unrelatable. Since it’s a relationship between two men, women can feel safe reading it because there is no female character to relate to and therefore no potential to feel uncomfortable from things that happen to her.

From there, I got lost. I tried relating to these girls but couldn’t. The first issue being if someone tried sliding their fingers between my legs while we’re all at karaoke, I’d probably break their hand. It became immediately obvious that oblivious and tolerant Yuma was not relatable to me. So then I thought, well, as embarrassing as it is to type out loud, in most BL my personality is more similar to the seme’s. So I thought maybe Hotaru was the key. But again, I have no desire to grab anyone’s crotch, especially when they act like they don’t want me to. It doesn’t matter what the crotch is composed of; it’s just rude. So I struck out with Hotaru as well. I was starting to think I just had no taste for yuri.

Exasperated with the end of the first volume of Netsuzou Trap, I moved on to Emma vol. 5 by Kaoru Mori which had also arrived that day. Volume 5 is a collection of short stories about a lot of the side characters from the Emma series, including Emma’s former employer. Her story takes place lounging in bed in the morning with her husband and looking at her nakedness I thought, “I could read a yuri with her in it. She’s beautiful and sensual and confident and intriguing.” Then I remembered the latest volume of A Bride’s Story by the same author with a chapter about the two avowed sisters (sister-wives) and went, “Yes, yes! I’d read a yuri about them! Their story is sooo good!”

That’s when I realized my dilemma about relatability was somewhat pointless. I’ve been through high school but I’ve never been a wife or German or had a dear avowed sister and a rich husband. So shouldn’t I be able to relate to those Netsuzou Trap girls way more than the women of Emma or A Bride’s Story?

So I came to the conclusion it’s not about relatability; it’s about a good story. Yes, okay, I’m way more tolerant of shabby stories in BL, especially if the characters are at least entertaining. But my favorite BL manga (and non-BL, for that matter) are the ones I feel have the best stories above all else. Their plots may not be especially complicated or intriguing, but they are endearing. They make me want to smile as I’m reading. I smiled reading Emma vol 5; I did not smile reading Netsuzou Trap.

So I guess the question is: will Kaoru Mori ever write a yuri? Do you have a yuri suggestion? What, do you think, is the best yuri has to offer?

As a disclaimer, I realize it’s all about preference. Under no circumstances am I suggesting that yuri mangaka need to write with me in mind or that the genre needs to change for me. I just know from reading BL that there are so many different, interesting stories out there that there’s “something for everyone” within the genre and I’m hoping to find that same thing exploring yuri.

 

Summer 2016 Wrap-Up

Summer 2016 Wrap-Up

I swear, these seasons are going by faster and faster all the time…

Berserk

img_0320These girls can’t figure out why they look drawn and poor Isidro is CG

If you’ve listened to the podcast at all, you know that my brother despises the animation and that I love Berserk no matter how much they try to screw it up. I will say that I was surprised by how far we…didn’t…make it in this season. When the voice cast and character designs were announced I assumed we’d see Schierke in some capacity other than a blip of a teaser at the end of the final episode. It may be futile but I’m looking forward to the return of the show this spring and hoping that maybe they cut back a bit on the CG and make Berserk beautiful again.

First Love Monster

This show was so incredibly stupid and that’s what made it great. The final episode exceeded my expectations by cranking the ridiculous up to 11 and just going for max absurdity. Don’t think too much, don’t care too much, just kick back and be entertained.

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Re:ZERO

I fell in and out of love with this show. The premise really drew me in but then Subaru’s repeated screaming turned me off. But I’d already put in the time and the old swordsman’s backstory kept me hanging on. All in all, I’m glad I stuck with it.

Taboo Tattoo

I can’t say the same for this series, however. I don’t know if the hype was too great or if the adaptation is to blame (I’m not familiar with the manga) or…what. I really wanted to love it and be blown away by it all; instead, I kept asking, “Why are you trying so hard to make me not care about anything that happens?”

Servamp

It was great to see this animated. I especially enjoyed the last few episodes and got sucked in (no vampire pun intended) for the final fight. If you’re reading the manga, you should love this. And if you’re not reading the manga, you can enjoy this anyway–in a time where there is a gross overabundance of vampire fiction, Servamp keeps it original and interesting.

D.Gray-man HALLOW

I didn’t realize this run of D.Gray-man would be so short but I guess it makes sense since we’re kind of running out of story to animate. HALLOW covered my favorite part of the manga so I really enjoyed it.

Morose Mononokean

mononokean.PNGThis describes exactly how this show made me feel.

I loved this one. It was one of my anticipated shows going into the season and I felt it consistently delivered every week. (And if you loved it too, remember you can continue on by reading the manga via crunchyroll!)

B-Project

bpro.PNGThe whole time I considered this show to be one of those guilty pleasures–stupid, simple, fanservice-y, but lovable regardless. The final episode, however, went places I didn’t expect and I almost choked from trying to eat and scream at the same time. One thing I enjoyed compared to most reverse-harem shows is that while Tsubasa is, of course, lovable and endearing to all who know her, I never got the impression that all the boys were in love with her. Heck, half the time I was pretty sure that most of the boys were in love with each other (which was fine with me!). I think B-Project did a good job of taking something very typical and trope-y and flipping things around a bit…while still keeping those fantastic end cards.

Cute Earth High Defense Club LOVE! LOVE!

I was a huge fan of the first season but this second season is incredible and perfect. It went above and beyond my expectations and the final episode…I just can’t even find the words. I wanted to just screenshot the entire episode for the blog but instead I picked the two shots I felt conveyed my feelings the best:

wombat.PNGTruer words were never spoken.

gora.PNGYes, please, just give it a try. Watch it now. PLEASE.

91 Days

empty shell.PNGMuch like this show itself.

Instead of going above and beyond my expectations, 91 Days was horribly disappointing. I admit the bar was high; I was soooo looking forward to this series and I thought it HAD to be amazing. I was wrong. It had the potential to be superb but instead of a tight, well-paced, complex and intriguing mafia show, it felt like a haphazard incoherent homage to mafia shows. It was like all your favorite scenes from mafia movies were cobbled together without any sort of regard to a sensible plot. It pains me to say this because I really wanted so badly to love it…but maybe that’s why I feel all the more let down by the fact it just didn’t deliver. I do think the final episode was the best episode. Watching it I couldn’t help but wonder if the story didn’t actually start with the final episode and episodes 1-11 weren’t just written as some sort of random vehicle to get to that final act.

duh.PNGGood fucking question. I’d been wondering that the whole series.

Cheer Boys!!

smile.jpgMission totally accomplished.

On a lighter, less-critical note…OMG Cheer Boys!!. I really loved this one. It wasn’t perfect or serious or a particular masterpiece but it gave me exactly what I wanted and even surprised me on occasion with some twists (no cheerleading pun intended) and insights. I laughed out loud more than I expected and the conflicts seemed realistic despite the situation itself being a bit ridiculous. Having just watched the final episode I feel the need to ask: isn’t the coach the real hero here? Am I the only one thinking, “That woman is amazing!”

Handa-kun

Soooo good. I might’ve even gotten used to the voice acting by the time it was all over. 😉 Seriously, if you’re a fan of Barakamon, watch this. If you’ve never even heard of Barakamon, watch this.

Bananya

Such a cute little show. Pure fun and sweetness.

Alderamin on the Sky

I almost dropped this one several times but kept it as a “something on in the background” or “something on while I’m going to bed” show. And now here we are at the end of it. I love all the tactics and strategy but I hate all the talk about tactics and strategy. Lots and lots of talking. It wasn’t a bad show; I just don’t know if it was ultimately worth watching.

Mob Psycho 100

Loved the visuals of the opening theme. I was really excited about this show but I have to admit I kind of phased in and out. However, the last episode was pretty brilliant.

I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten, especially considering how many shows I started for the summer. What were your favorites of the Summer 2016 season? What Fall 2016 shows are you looking forward to?