meganbmoore: (12k: youko + sakura petals)
For the first time in well over a year, I managed to stick with a new anime all the way to the end. (Unless we count Thunderbolt Fantasy, but I'm still unclear as to whether or not it's considered anime.) There were other series that I started, and some I enjoyed more than the ones I finished, but everything else I watched for anime ended up feeling like a chore to continue with. Moving on:

Sakura Quest: The latest "slice of life/unusal-in-anime-career" series from PA Works. The backgrounds and cinematography were as gorgeous as all their other series, though the character designs for their female characters are getting less distinctive (Nowhere near as bad as some other studios though. I feel I've checked out a number of series lately where hairstyle is the only way to tell characters apart.) This time, a country girl who wants to work in the city accidentally signs a contract to spend year as the "queen" (pretty much public face of) a failing tourist town. A bit slow at times, but nice and relaxing, and certainly a bit different from most slice of life series. Blessedly light on fanservice given that it's a series about a bunch of young women (and a cranky old man) pulling all sorts of stunts to boost tourism.

Grimoire of Zero
: Kinda-stereotypical fantasy anime about an anthromorphic white tiger who ends up the bodyguard of a witch who promises to make him fully human in a world where witches are outlawed. TBH, finished it a few weeks ago and have already forgotten half of it, but I was entertained throughout. The big downside is that it joins the legion of series with an adult female protagonist who gets sexualized despite looking like an adolescent. (Why must you keep doing this, anime)

Princess Principal: My favorite of the bunch. One of the many pseudo-early 20th century Europe anime, this time about a young princess who aspires to become queen of her small country, aided by a group of female spies, all but one of whom is an agent of a foreign country initially sent to work against her. If an action series about teenaged female spies with tons of angst and baggage and secrets (Princess has all those too) could be called an introspective slice-of-life series, this one would qualify. 99% certain there were no panty shots despite the premise, which includes on girl who flies with the aid of an anti-gravity device, and another (older) girl who regularly seduces guards to distract them.

Mahou Tsukai no Yome
OVAs: A leadin 3 part series for the anime that started airing this week. This was a backstory about Chise's childhood bookended by scenes in the "present".  I don't know if the story is from the manga or an original for the anime, since I've only read the first few volumes of the manga, but I am always here for stories about lonely kids stumbling across magic libraries.

This season looks promising to me.  The Mahou Tsukai no Yome is pretty much a sure deal for me, as is the Kino no Tabi reboot/sequel (not sure which) unless they end up being just badly done, and there are several other series that I plan to check out.
meganbmoore: (ans: cosplay)
This anime season is about halfway over, so I guess I should actually comment on the shows I'm watching?

Fairy Tail Zero
: A prequel arc that covers the founding of the Fairy Tail Guild. Shortest plot summary: Two girls (one of whom becomes the founder of the guild) who are the only survivors of a massacre in their village meet three treasure hunters (2 of whom play important parts in the regular timeline, and the other is someone's dad) and they have adventures and learn how to become powerful wizards. The spinoff manga it's based on is only one volume long, so there's filler, but it's still pretty fun. There are references to the regular timeline and hints dropped about backstory the regular plot hasn't gotten to yet, but I'd say it's pretty accessible to people who might be curious about the series, but not want to dive head first into a 250+ episode shounen anime, once you get past the first 6 or so minutes of the first episode, which is pretty much just 2 of the main characters wandering around.

Durarara!!! x2: Whatever the current arc is called. Not much to say that I didn't say in my posts about the first season and first 2 parts of season 2. I love it even when I shouldn't, but there are so many plotlines going on that I wouldn't know how to even talk about it without needing multiple paragraphs and lots of spoilers. (Though at least some people are tarting to make decent choices and try to resolve things, though other people just keep making increasingly more terrible decisions and listening to the wrong advice.) This season has a tendency to have alternating episode structures, where one episode focuses on the Current Big Thing and checks in a bit on other things, and then the next episode tries to touch base with all the plots ever and go "oh yeah, and huge thing over there." Not a bad thing by any means, though I watched the first seasons so fast that I didn't notice whether or not they did the same.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime: I think I like season 2 more than season 1. Don't get me wrong, I loved season 1, but not a whole lot happened as far as a central plotline goes, whereas this season has had an extended storyline and lots of action so far. Sometimes, though, I feel like going "who got angst on my fluffy fantasy shoujo romance?"

Haruchika: The only one I'm watching this season that's actually new. A mystery series about a girl named Chika who joins the brass band in high school, and learns that one of the boys is her childhood friend, Haruta. Together they investigate mysteries in the lives of other students and drag everyone they meet into their club. Normally, you'd expect the series to end with Chika and Haruta romantically interested in each other, even if they don't admit it, but in this case, Haruta is gay and they have a crush on the same teacher. (Who, thankfully, doesn't seem to reciprocate either of their feelings.) I enjoy it, and it's noteworthy as an anime with an explicitly gay lead that isn't marketed as BL, but it has a tendency to have Haruta do all the investigating and solving and then revealing everything in a long spiel, while Chika comes along without really having a clue what's going on, and Haruta sometimes tends to go out of his way to say something mean or hurtful to Chika just because he can find an opportunity to, and I feel like I'm meant to go "That Haruta! So snarky!" in those scenes. More recent episodes have been better about both those things, but I feel like the anime has a habit of falling into a "boys=intellect and logic and girls=emotion and passion" mindset, though less obviously so with the supporting characters.
meganbmoore: (yona: fanservice)
I realized the other day that I haven't posted on any anime in a while, even though I've been watching some.

Akatsuki no Yona and the second season of Kamisama Kiss I did post on a bit, I think. Both seasons covered parts of the manga that I'd already read, and pretty faithfully. Yona switched up the order of a few things, and KSK added some stuff to wrap up the season, but those were the main changes. If you like either manga or liked the first season of KSK, you'll like them. Yona is probably my favorite new anime in a while.

Wolf Girl and Black Prince is about a compulsive liar creates an imaginary boyfriend so she can one-up her friends when they talk about their boyfriends, and shows them a picture she took of a random boy when they demand proof. It turns out the boy goes to their school, and he agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend if she'll be his obedient "dog." It's weirdly addictive and I spent the first half of the season condemning myself to a Feminist Pit Of Shame for liking it so much. About halfway through, it gets the awful setup out of its system and become a more typical shoujo romance. Pretty much, I liked it and will probably eventually read the manga, but can offer no real justification.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, which is based on a VN that I haven't played, though I did watch the series from several years ago, which followed a different game route, and the prequel series, Fate/Zero. I'm mostly watching for Rin and Saber and Rin/Archer and Rin/Saber. And Ilya and Sakura, but they aren't in this one much. This one has a more interesting plot than the first series and some impressive animation at times, but also does some things I'm meh about. It's pretty enjoyable, though. It just finished airing, but I have a couple episodes to go.

Fairy Tail is my endless shounen comfort series. That's about it, really.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which I've started several times over the years, but only made it a few episodes in each time. This time I powered through it for the Magical Girls panel and Wiscon and...still am not a fan. I get why it's popular, it's brilliantly constructed, it does what it wants and the art direction is amazing. I just don't like it. It's brutal deconstruction for the sake of deconstruction, and it's deconstruction that is deliberately NOT for the target audience (young girls). It removes the empowerment of the genre but doesn't build anything up in its place, and way too much hangs on BUT TEENAGED GIRLS ARE JUST SO EMOTIONAL. And, as tends to happen with Urobuchi, an awful, abusive system is set up and he draws attention to it and has his heroines aware of it, and...leaves it in place to continue to be an unchallenged, horrible system indefinitely.
I am glad I finally watched it and I'm glad the people it works for have it, but it wasn't for me.

Shirobako is an anime about making anime. Like most PA Works shows, it's laid back and slice-of-life. It isn't about the dream of making anime, it's about the work and the tedium and repetition, about working with creators and getting all the different views on the same page. And it's especially about how you won't make it in the anime industry unless you really, really love anime. It's a meta series, though it doesn't rub your face in it. One of the most telling bits is probably early on, when the producer of the anime they're working on in the first half announces that they have to completely rework the main character's personality, because girls will identify with her, and boys won't like her enough. It actually wrapped up a month or two back, I just haven't watched the last few episodes yet.

Ore Monogatari is a shoujo series about Takeo, a huge teenaged who looks like a thug but has the heart of a marshmallow. He always reaches out to befriend people, but they always prefer his standoffish, handsome, friend, Suna, including all the girls Takeo likes. When he saves a girl named Yamato from a groper, he assumes that she, too, likes Suna, but she actually likes Takeo, who is now trying to matchmake Yamato and Suna. It's hilarious and so sweet I'm in danger of getting cavities every episode. The manga it's based on is by the writer of High School Debut, which gives you an idea of what to expect.

Not anime, but since last Friday, I've watched the first 60 episodes of Soo Baek Hyang, The King's Daughter, a Baekje-set sageuk. It's a daily drama, so the episodes are only 32 minutes each (35 once you factor in hulu's commercials) as opposed to the normal hour+. I was off work for a couple days last week, which accounts for a decent bit of that episode count, though. It's my 4th sageuk in a row to have the "secret princess" theme (well, I suppose Hwajung is actually a "lost princess" plot, as opposed to a "secret princess" plot, but still!) I swear I'm not seeking the theme out.  The series follows the general sageuk formula that MBC seems to like.

It's incredibly addictive, though I haven't quite figured out how to put why I love it into words, aside from blathering a bit about the fake!cest in IMs. It's 108 episodes total, and I may just set all my other shows aside until I finish it.

Though, may I just say that it seems to be trying to win an award for the slowest slow burn ever? I'm sitting here going "OMG, you two, we're over halfway there! Make at least SOME progress before plot things come out and you spend who knows how long thinking you're half siblings!"
meganbmoore: (red data girl: goddess)
The Devil is a Part-Timer is about the demon lord, Satan, who, along with his general, Anciel, is forced to flee to Earth after a legendary hero overthrows his forces. On earth, Satan and Anciel (or Sadao and Ashiya, as they call themselves there) have a limited amount of magic and learn you have to have pesky things like MONEY and INSURANCE and A JOB and do things like PAY RENT. It's awful, but they persevere. Sadao gets a part time job at fake!McDonald's and is determined to rise in the ranks and become lord of the franchise. Or some such. Ashiya cooks and cleans and scrimps and saves and does endless research for how to get more magic and go home.

I tried the series a couple times before and always got bored before getting halfway through the first episode. This time I persevered until the end, when we learned the Legendary Hero, Emilia (Emi), is also on Earth. Emi is shocked, horrified, disgusted and annoyed because THE GREAT DEMON LORD. HE HAS TURNED INTO A DORK. WHO WORKS PART-TIME IN FAST FOOD. AND LOANS STRANGERS HIS UMBRELLA IN THE RAIN.

The last scene sets the tone for the rest of the series, in which various people from Emi and Sadao's world cross over and cause mischief, and Emi remains eternally deeply suspicious of, you know, the DEMON LORD who's chilling in a dinky little apartment and working part time and behaving himself far too well. (People assume they're dating. Emi is horrified. Sadao doesn't seem to notice.) There are a variety of characters from both worlds that pop in and out, including another of Sadao's generals, who ends up grounded and never allowed to leave the apartment because of a crime spree when he first arrived, and so he becomes a computer addict. (Emi is extra annoyed by this. She killed him! She gave a dramatic heroic speech and everything!)

A very fun series. I hope I get to read the books, but I haven't located them online yet.

The series can be streamed on Netflix, Hulu or Crunchyroll.
meganbmoore: (lucy loves this book)
Akatsuki no Yona is an ongiong (not-yet-licensed in the US, manga series with a currently-airing anime adaptation. There are currently 14 volumes of the manga, but only the first 8 currently have scanslations.

Set in a fantasy version of ancient Korea, AnY is about Yona, a pamper and shelter princess who is in love with her cousin, Soo-Won. Her father detests violence, and has a reputation as a weak king because of it. Yona and Soo-won grew up little different from siblings,a long with Yon's bodyguard, Hak. This is angsty epic shoujo, so of course Hak is in love with Yona, but has apparently never considered expressing it, considering soo-won to be the better match for Yona. The only problems in Yona's life are her red hair (which she hates) and the fact that her father disapproves of her interest in Soo-Won . (He completes approves of Hak, of course, because the mangaka wants to make sure we know what pairing to root for from the start.) That changes one night when she witnesses Soo-Won murder her father, and is forced to flee the palace with Hak.

While on the run, Yona and Hak meet a priest who tells them about the legend of a redhaired king who was served by the four dragon gods, and that the descendants of the dragons still exist, and are waiting for the king to be reborn so they can serve him and help him save the kingdom. Yona decides that a redhaired princess will do just as well, and she and Hak set out to find the descendants, along with the priest's adopted son, Yoon, a self-proclaimed Pretty Boy who serves as den mother for the protagonists, providing all the food, cleaning, medical ministrations, and lectures for the group. (Yoon is also the youngest character. Yoon is very long suffering, and justifiably makes sure everyone knows it.)

Most of the translated volumes are Yona seeking out the descendants of the dragons and winning them over (this ranges from "YOU HAVE RED HAIR. I SHALL SERVE YOU FOREVER." to "Look. I literally fled the country to get out of this destiny thing. THERE SHALL BE NO DESTINED SERVITUDE." She also learned that while her father may have been beloved to her, he may not have been a very good king, making little effort to ensure laws were enforced outside the palace, and providing little defense against attacks from other countries. Before she flees the palace, Soo-Won also tells her that her father had murdered Soo-Won's father years before. I'm operating under the assumption that, having spent more time away from the palace than Hak and Yona, Soo-won had been much more aware of the problems in the kingdom than they were, but hadn't decided how to act until learning about the fratricide. Yona now finds herself in the opposing position: her father was beloved to her, but the country might be better off with Soo-Won as king, and she doesn't actually know much about ruling or politics herself, only having concerned herself with frivolous things before Soo-won's betrayal. She set out on a quest to find the dragons' descendants, but without an actual goal in mind after that. (Hak is having an easier time with the "Soo-Won betrayed us and hurt and killed people I love. I shall kill Soo-won" mentality. Much easier.)

All of this is interspersed with numerous adorable flashbacks of Yona, Soo-Won and Hak growing up together and being adorable babies. And some less-cheery flashbacks for Yona's followers. The anime also frames the first two episodes with flashforwards of Yona and her followers going to war. The last time I got into a manga series this much this quickly was 7 Seeds about a year and a half ago. The only issues I have with it is that it has a very dire case of "Only One Woman." There was an elderly female pirate captain for one arc, but she doesn't seem likely to return, and the only other female character who looks like she may actually shows up from time to time is the wife of a general who Soo-won wins over. Aside from the flashforwards, the first three episodes of the anime are pretty faithful to the first several chapters of the manga. The flashforwards give me hope that the anime intends to actually have a conclusion, as opposed to following the ever increasing trend of just adapting a series to the end of a certain arc and then stopping without resolving a significant amount of the plot.


Oct. 18th, 2014 08:02 pm
meganbmoore: (levy writes)
1. I had 3 friends join Flight Rising during the registration window, and 2 even joined me in Water. I am very eager to see what you guys do with your lairs.

2. Speaking of Flight Rising, just as I was finally getting used to the last new genes, they came out with a new one.

3. I've now checked out Akatsuki no Yona, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Your Lie in April, and Shirobako for this season's new anime, and only have the second season of Psycho-Pass and In Search of the Lost Future left to check out. Though I probably shouldn't be starting new series when I haven't finished any of the four from last season that I'm still catching up on (Ao Haru Ride, Glasslip, Barakamon, and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. At least I ran out of Fairy Tail to binge on, at least until Hulu adds more.

4. John Grisham apologized for his comments about child pornography that were made earlier in the week, but I'm about as convinced by it as his disgruntled fans appear to be. I ranted about it a fair bitthe other day on twitter, but dude, you can't really take some of that stuff back, no matter how much crow you eat.

5. I don't have a link for it, but apparently Adam Baldwin is working on something or other for Dark horse. Oh, to live in a world where you lost jobs when you attack a woman and sic 200k followers on her and act like the death threats she receives for it were all in her head because her ex-boyfriend decided to air her dirty laundry (real or fake) and you decided she was corrupt. (I assume everyone is familiar with GamerGate. If not, just go search any combination of "GamerGate" Adam Baldwin" and "Zoe Quinn." Warning for ending up with awful anti-women/female gamers treatises, including gifs and photo edits that appear to want to portray Baldwin as a heroic hunter of women. First example google gave me. I've seen much worse, that one is mild and missable if you don't get the context.
meganbmoore: (howl: sophie)
A Certain Magical Index is a multimedia franchise based on the lightnovels by Kazuma Kamachi. Between the original series, the sequel series, and "side story" collections, there are I think 35 volumes of the light novel series. There's also a manga adaptation, and two spinoff manga series about supporting characters. The first 13 volumes of the light novels and the first volume of side stories are adapted into the two seasons of the A Certain Magical Index anime, and there are also two seasons of A Certain Scientific Railgun, one of the spinoff manga series. I haven't read any of the various manga series, though A Certain Scientific Railgun has been licensed in the US, but I've watched all four 24-episodes seasons of anime and the first 13 novels, and was halfway through the first collection of sidestories when baka-tsuki took the first 20 volumes down due to Yen Press licensing the series. The anime was pretty faithful up to that point, though, so I'm not overly worried about it.

I lead off with the sheer amount of media in this franchise to give you a general idea of how many hours of my life this series has consumed.

The series is set in Academy City, a city of around 10 million people, the majority of whom are students. The students of academy city are all teenagers (and younger) who are turned into espers through scientific experiments. Most students appear to be there by choice, but some are abandoned, and it's implied that some who showed potential were just taken. Students who never develop an ability are "level 0" with powers ranked up to "level 5." There are only a few level 5s (only 2 of whom have appeared so far in my readings/viewings) and both can easily destroy city blocks if they want to. One of the level 5s has been a living experiment since childhood with various organizations using him to try to create a level 6 esper (the equivalent of being a walking cache of nuclear bombs, pretty much) and the other allowed her DNA sequence to used by scientists who told her they would use it to cure an illness, but whom instead used it to create thousands of clones to be used in experiments, and maybe to help take over the world. This is about ruling class's idea of informed consent in Academy City, even if most in it don't realize that.

The main character of Index is Ikuta Touma, a level 0 who is cursed with bad luck, and whose right hand, called "Imagine Breaker," can cancel out other espers' powers. This isn't considered an esper ability, as he was born with it, and because it's completely passive in and of itself. The plot kicks off when Touma finds a girl dressed like a nun passed out on his balcony. Index claims to have a photographic memory, and to have memorized 103,000 magic grimoires. Because of this, she claims, people are hunting her, Touma doesn't believe this (or in magic) until Index is attacked, around which time Touma also learns that Imagine Breaker also nullifies magic. Index is being hunted because she has a spell cast on her every year to erase everything from her memory except for the grimoires, and one of the questions is if that's to keep her mind from breaking down, or to control her.

That's the first arc. Subsequent arcs involve Touma and a variety of characters (mostly Index, a magician from Index's past named Stiyl, a friend of Touma's who appears to be spying for both the magic and science "sides," and Misaka Mikoto, one of the level 5 espers) getting involved in various plots involving magic and/or science. "Science versus magic" is an obvious major theme, but also "science and magic." As the series progresses, it steadily moves from isolated incidents to the incidents being part of larger plots to head to war, with both sides trying to control if and hoow that will happen. I've seen some people express concern about whether or not the series is saying Christianity is evil, as many of the antagonists are Catholic or from the Church of England, but I don't get that feeling from it. Various protagonists, both major and minor, are Christian. What's portrayed as corrupt is people with authority but little or no conscious, and zealots who don't don't care who the hut while accomplishing their goals. This applies to both sides of the science and magic divide.

The series is...very much a series for teenaged boys, though the anime dilutes quite a bit of the male-gaze aspect. The books spend a lot of time of girls blushing and being cute, and objectifying Index for her whiteness. By which is mean, her PURE whiteness. Her CUTE innocence. Her REMARKABLE silver hair. Did I mention her PURITY is tied to her whiteness? Repeatedly. There's also the spell that's cast on Index that causes her to lose her memories. This also means that, despite surviving alone and on the run for almost a year when she first shows up, she somehow knows absolutely nothing about, and is afraid of, most technology. Meanwhile, at one point, another character has the same spell cast on them, and only loses memories related to personal experience, not anything related to technology, social skills, etc. While it could be argued that the difference is in part because Index has had the spell cast on her repeatedly, I'm pretty sure it's mostly for the CUTE helplessness. On the flipside, every once in a while, Kamachi goes "You know what? A person who can't use magic herself buts knows every magic spell ever could still seriously mess magic users up in a fight if she wanted to" and runs with that. Not often enough, but sometimes.

So, pretty much, it's a series that has a number of things that annoy me, but also a lot of characters I like, and it does things that I find interesting.

A Certain Scientific Railgun is a spinoff series about Misaka Mikoto and her friends. very much a series for men about girls (girls sexually harassing other girls is "'cute" occurs...a lot) but it's also a series in which girls with a lot of power are competent and allowed to be proud of their powers (and don't have to be brought down because of their arrogance), and in which girls who lack powers, or whose powers are way less impressive than their friends' powers, are also competent and have plenty to contribute. The closest thing it has to a major male character is Touma, who mostly shows up to help establish where we are in the Index timeline. Railgun's first season starts about a month before Index begins, and the second season ends about 3/4 through the first season of Index. Railgun doesn't focus on the magic aspect at all, instead having Mikoto and her friends discover various plots within Academy City in which individuals or organizations are abusing their power/students in the name of Science.

As a warning, both series have times when they can be violent. Sometimes it's just your normal shounen punching/energy bursts while making shounen speeches about the importance of a person/their feelings/whatnot. Sometimes a person's arm is being ripped off by magic or a brainwashed mass murdering sociopath. (I have yet to properly deal with the fact that I mostly both like and sympathize with said sociopath (well, after his introductory arc, at least), since I'm normally the one whose eyes are permanently rolled into the back of her head when fandom is going on about them.)

I've also read the first two volumes of The Zakishi Warashi of Intellectual Village, another "science and magic" series by Kamachi. In this one, mythological creatures exist and are a normal part of society, though they mostly avoid large cities. The main Character, Shinobu, lives in an "Intellectual Village," a modern, technologically advance town modeled after "traditional" Japanese villages. Anyone who lives in an Intellectual Village is technically rich, even if they live a lifestyle that implies otherwise. Because mythological creatures are integrated into society, various people attempts to use modern means to form contracts with them based on folklore. Both volumes alternate between three protagonists. Shinobu, his uncle Uchimaku, a police officer, and Mai, a mercenary considered to be a "monster woman" due to her extreme (and often violent) competence at her job, which mostly involves getting rid of various magic users. Mai's younger sister, Enbi, is obsessed with murder mysteries and has a crush on Uchimaku, and features heavily in his sections. (I can't tell if Uchimaku realizes that she's serious when she comes onto him and pretends he doesn't because she's a teenager, or if he thinks she's just trolling him. Either way, I could do without the crush angle.) Both volumes have the three protagonists having an adventure that appears to be independent of the other characters' adventures, and then ties them together at the end. The titular character is the zashiki warashi of Shinobu's house, who isn't actually featured much. It's even more male gazey than Index, with "cute" traded for "boobies" (and the illustrations are mostly the female characters in revealing clothing and provocative clothes) and so more irritating in that aspect, but interesting enough that I'll keep reading as more volumes are released.
meganbmoore: (7 Seeds: Ango/Natsu/Semimaru)
Akuma no Riddle eps 8-12: So, apparently they were saving most of the actual plot (not to mention about 80% of Tokaku's characterization) for the last few episodes.

spoilers )

Atelier Escha and Logy eps 7-12. Fluffy and cute until the end, though I wish it'd been a bit less normative with gender roles. I think this may become a go-to series when I want a relaxing, laid back thing, with bonus steampunky-medieval-lite clothing and setting. I didn't care much for the very last plot development, but I suspect they intend to adapt more of the Atelier games, so that may be why.

Black Bullet eps 8-13. Probably the lowest ranked (for me) of the season's anime, but I liked it, and am glad someone's doing fantranslations of the light novels.

spoilers )

Still the World is Beautiful eps 7-12: Sadder to see this one go than any of the others, I think. Guess I should hunt down the manga.

spoilers )

Now to check out the new series before spending time with my nephews next week.
meganbmoore: (howl: smoochies)
I pretty much accidentally gave up on all the media I was supposed to be consuming for WisCon because I got distracted by 2 very long anime series (Fairy Tail, and A Certain Magical Index, both of which I should comment on once I catch up), but I did manage to catch up with airing anime. A victory is a victory?

Akuma no Riddle eps 3-7: This show is still so into its concept that it's almost adorable.
brief spoilers )

Atelier Escha and Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky eps 1-6: I don't often watch anime based on video games, but this sounded interesting. Escha and Logy are young alchemists working for the local government branch. Escha is a local and her mother was also an alchemist, and so she's both well known and well liked in the area. She uses a cauldron to create things. Logy, who combines his alchemy with a forge to disassemble things and figure out how they work, apparently comes from a much larger city, and thought being an alchemist for the local government meant that he and his sword were going to dash around the countryside, slaying dragons. Instead, he and Escha go around finding out why a village's river has dried up, what's poisoning the crops, helping to create new medicines, etc. (It's ok, though. Sometimes their missions means that Escha has to dart off into the wilds for a rare plant, and then he gets to fight wolves and such.) Logy has the markings for an angsty anime male lead with a mysterious past, but there's been very little of that so far, with the focus being slightly more on Escha (who has Dead Mother Angst, though it isn't overdone at this point) as they run around fixing things and eating alchemy-produced deserts and gathering an oddball collection of friends.

This is based on the 15th game in the "Atelier" series, though familiarity with the others (of which I have absolutely none) isn't needed. Looking things up, I see that 4 of the female supporting characters are carryovers from the previous game in the series, and one, Nio, is the younger sister of the protagonist of that one, and is looking for her sister. The plot apparently involves the older sister searching for Nio, who disappeared pre-game, so now I kinda want to see an anime adaptation of that.

You can tell it's based on a game-there are "character cards" for everyone, a few events that clearly started out as a goal the player had to achieve, and various backgrounds and scenery shots appear to be directly lifted from the game. It's not overly intrusive though, and I find it to be a relaxing, enjoyable series with low stress and enjoyable characters and animation.

Black Bullet eps 2-6: I'm not overly interested in the "post-acopalyptic action/conspiracy" stuff that's going on (I mean, there's nothing wrong with it or anything, but...) am looking forward to the increased focus on the cursed children, and the mystery of what really happened to Kisara's family. There isn't a whole lot to set it apart from all the other "futuristic world with monsters and superpowers" anime out there, but I like it. I really wish, though, that there was an explanation for how civilization and society are still functioning fairly normally (by modern standards) when most of humanity was wiped out by monsters and the survivors have to live in closed off cities. Just saying.

Also in the "just saying" category: There's an evil scientist named Ayn Rand. I thought some of you might want to know.

How is Rentaro still alive, much less fine, after episodes 3 and 4, anyway?

The World is Still Beautiful eps 3-6: The first few episodes of this series were "This is very good, but I don't feel a just drive to watch it this very second," but I think it really kicked off around the middle of episode 4. Assassination attempts will do that?

I really hope the narrative is as aware of how easily Nike could destroy the Sun Kingdom as I hope it is. Many of the people appear to have never even seen rain before, and aren't aware of it or what it means "water comes from the sky and makes it a lot easier to grow crops," without being aware of what heavy rain-or worse-can do, especially to a region that doesn't normally get any rain. Nike, OTOH, seems to know exactly how rain and cycles work, and is well aware of how her powers can affect the kingdom, both good and bad, which is an awareness of power and responsibility for power that I feel we don't often get in teen protagonists. (But someone really needs to clue a few characters in on what a bad idea it is to piss off the person who literally controls the weather.)

I really want to know, though, why it is that a kingdom whose royal family has had the power to control the weather for generations is a tiny country few people have heard of, as opposed to, you know, ruling the world.

And, uhm, I know Livius is 15 and Nike only a couple years older, and that they draw Livius so young-looking to emphasize that he became king when he was 12, but they draw him as 12 and Nike at her actual age, and so the age difference that's actually perfectly fine starts looking a bit awkward the more the series emphasize the romantic aspect.

I'm also still watching Tonari no Seki-kun and Mushishi, but don't have anything in particular to say about them. (Except "wtf grafting episode, Mushishi!") I'm also still watching Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, which isn't great, but it's entertaining, and has improved now that they've stopped trying to cram enough action for a 24 minute episode into 3 minutes.
meganbmoore: (noragami: god of war)

Okami Ryoko is a member of a club at her school known as "Otogi Bank," a club that grants any favor by any means necessary, in exchange for the promise of future favors. She's constantly trying to make herself stronger and fights using a pair of boxing gloves designed to look like kittens (not her choice) and lives with her best friend, Ringo, who is also a member of the club.

Most episodes and characters are modeled after European and Japanese fairy tales. Ryoko is the Big Bad Wolf to Ringo's Red Riding Hood, while Ryoshi, a boy who has a crush on Ryoko (but has ophthalmophobia) is The Woodsman. Liszt and Alice, cousins who are respectively the president and and secretary of the club, and are the titular charcters of Aesop's "The Ant and The Grasshopper," Otsu, a girl who only wears maid costumes, is the crane from "Tsuru no Ongaeshi," a rather madcap and bizarre couple, Taro and Otohime, are based on the titular character and the princess in " Urashima Taro," and the strange girl who invents things in the basement, Majolica le Fay, is the Fairy Godmother from everything. (And Morgan le Fay.) Most of the one-off and supporting characters are based on various fairly tale characters, and the main protagonists sometimes take on other fairy tale roles.

The first 5 or so episodes are madcap zaniness as the club takes on their respective tasks (at least one using a request to force Ryoko and Ryoshi to fake!date) but it takes a somewhat darker turn midway through, as we get into Ryoko's angsty past. Which, uhm, I would have enjoyed a lot more had the series not chosen spoiler ) But it remained a very enjoyable (if sometimes very bizarre) series despite that.
meganbmoore: (red data girl: goddess)
Akuma no Riddle eps 1-2: This is the series about the all-girls boarding school where 12 members of a class of 13 are trained assassins and in a contest to assassinate the 11th, Haru, a girls with scars on her body and a mysterious past. The assassins get only one attempt each, cannot interfere with each other's attempts, and cannot involve outsiders. One of the assassins, Tokaku falls in insta-love with Haru decides to protect Haru instead, and goes to war with her classmates. Everyone has a mysterious past (mostly angsty, of course) and this series is so incredibly into its concept (and as a result, I think it's played some of its cards too early) that I half expect a narrator to pop up squealing with glee at times.

Have the OP:

Black Bullet ep 1: A virus has forced mankind to live within cities called "monoliths," but the cities aren't able to completely block out the virus. When it infects someone, they turn into monsters and "Promoter," who use special bullets, are brought in to fight them along with their partners, young girls called "Initiators" who were infected by the virus while still fetuses and have superpowers, and are regarded as being "cursed children." So far, the main character, Rentaro, appears to be the only major male character, with the others being his childhood friend/employer, Kisara, his Initiator, Enju, and a rather morbid coroner whose name I didn't catch. Though Enju regards herself as Rentaro's fiance (Enju appears to be about 7-8 and Rentaro appears to have her pretty firmly in the "little sister" category) it doesn't look likely to turn into a harem-type setup. Rentaro and Kisara have a shared angsty past involving the death of her parents, but it will probably end up focusing on Rentaro, because he's a boy and the main character, but it also looks like it'll have a lot of focus on the nature and treatment of the cursed children.

It has the potential to end up one of those series with a lot of potential that end up disappointing in the end, but I have hopes for now.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure eps 1-2. My only previous experience with JJBA is reading the first arc ages ago, back in the Scans Daily days. (I can't recall if I actually read JJBA on SD, but establishing the timeframe and all...) I enjoyed it, but the series was way too daunting to even think about reading all of it on my computer. As far as the anime goes, I understand this is the most popular plotline by far. On the one hand, I see why it's popular and the art direction is certainly interesting, but it's taking "sea of men" to the extreme and what women there are exist to fawn over and be insulted by JoJo (including his mother). Except the one who dies to help JoJo learn as lesson about Stands. There's also enough manly posing to give any other shounen action series secondhand embarrassment.

I may just read the one arc of the manga with a female lead and skip the rest unless that blows me away.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san ep 1: Shoujo Ai short about a girl named Inugami who likes and acts like a cat, and a girl named Nekoyama who likes dogs. I decided to give it a try because I like Tonari no Seki-kun, the only short series i've watched before this. It was cute and i'll watch more. (I attempted to watch Mangaka-san to Assistant-san, too, but will be passing on it.)

The World is Still Beautiful eps 1-2. Three years ago, the Sun King took over his kingdom, and he's taken over most of the known world since. Shocking everyone, he proposes an alliance with a small kingdom whose royal family is rumored to be able to influence the weather, in exchange for having one of the king's four daughters sent to him as a bride. As the Sun King is rumored to be a lecherous, one eyed ogre, none of the daughters are thrilled with the prospect, but one princess, Nike, is chosen because she loses a battle of rock-paper-scissors with her sisters. Travelling incognito through the Sun Kingdom before her appointment at the royal palace, Nike is surprised to learn that, despite rumors, the kingdom doesn't appear to be oppressed, and has a thriving economy. She's even more surprised to learn that the king, Livius, is a teenager a few years younger then her.

Lots of economics, lots of politics, kidnappings and assassination attempts already, and a lot of Livius being a very intelligent brat and Nike yelling at him to get over himself already and oh, act like a kid already. (Presumably, they'll eventually be love interests. Right now, though, Nike treats him more like an annoying little brother she just acquired, and who she needs to shake some sense into.) I've seen a few people comment that Nike appears to be modeled after Nausicaa, and I agree, but don't think it's a bad thing. (Not that I've seen anyone say it as a negative thing.)

Also, the OD for this one is....odd.  Yes, odd.

I'm watching Mushishi of course, which is about like reading the manga, but with sound and color, and I'm still enjoying Tonari no Seki-kun a lot. I'm very behind on Nisekoi, which is drifting away from being a fake-dating romcom and looks to be turning into more of a straightforward harem series with lots of fanservice. I dunno.

I watched bits of a few other first eps, but wasn't grabbed by them. (Sadly, not even the one with the evil unicorn and the girl who drags along a coffin filled with guns.)  I might try Baby Love again.  I actually liked the bit I saw, especially the protagonist's obsessive notetaking, but it looked to be too Sea of Men to me.
meganbmoore: (sailor moon: mercury)
Inari, KonKon, Koi, Iroha eps 6-10: Well, that wasn't quite the ending I wanted. Not that it was a bad ending, I was just hoping for something along the lines of a pile of giggling and happy girls and puppies. But it ended with a heavy focus on the friendship between Inari and Uka, and that is good. (And I think there's an OVA coming this summer?) It definitely warrants the comparisons to last season's Gingitsune, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Gingitsune had better animation and had better writing and characterization, while Inari was more prone to Drama and had the major drawback of Uka's brother (who did at least manage to be useful in the last episode) but Inari has more girls and is charming and very very earnest, and I liked that the central conflict and drama boiled down to a human girl and a goddess befriending each other and trying to keep that friendship.

Noragami eps 8-12: I started this one out of curiosity, not really expecting much, but it ended up being my favorite, mostly out of my love for the main characters and a lot of the supporting cast, but also because the plot was soemwhat different from the norm. However...

spoilers )

The Pilot's Love Song eps 8-13: So, when I said that episode seven was the show deciding that it was time for the obligatory death of a lovable supporting character, what I really meant was that episode seven was a warning that proceeding past that point meant signing up for the emotional equivalent of being repeatedly punched in the gut. (And literally punched in the gut a lot, if you're Kal.)

The ending appears to be fairly obvious sequel bait, but I'm not sure Inumura Koroko would see it that way. Mind you, I know it's set up to be a multimedia, ongoing franchise, so the ending probably was deliberate sequel bait. But, like with Remembrances for A Certain Pilot/The Princess and the Pilot, the personal conflicts and issues that drove the plot were resolved, as was the core plot in the events that took place. The fact that what was going on with these characters was only a small part of the whole conflict and that the main conflict in their world still going on is secondary, and things don't get wrapped up in a nice bow because you sorted out your issues and achieved a goal. Which, if that is Inumura's outlook, is perfectly reasonable, though not necessarily a stance that a number of devourers of fiction will want for the end of their canon.

spoilers )

I know that the series is mostly getting compared to Last Exile, and that's understandable and even fairly appropriate, but I think that both thematically and in tone, it's more in tune with Allison and Lillia. Which I now want to rewatch.

Silver Spoon: Season 2 eps 7-11: Where did all this angst come from? This was supposed to be my funny adorable culture clash series with a side of economics. Not that I object to the angst, I just wasn't quite prepared for it, even with the buildup in the first half of the season. This season was less with the humor and more with the economics and life choices in general, which is totally cool, just a bit of a change from the first season. Also, I cannot remember the last time I watched a show with this many in-canon shippers.

Now to start the new series.  When I'm not binge watching kdramas for WisCon.
meganbmoore: (secret of kells: lookee)
1. Accidentally stumbling across spoilers for a recent-ish episode of Wizard Barristers made me lose interest in it, and then deliberately spoiling myself for the end made me glad I did. Lotsa of wasted potential there. I also dropped Magical Warfare, as I apparently quit caring about anything else once the sibling plot I cared about was resolved and replaced by one I anti-cared about.

2. Related, except for Tonari no Seki-kun and Nisekoi, all the anime I was watching are finished (ok, The Pliot's Love Song finishes tomorrow, but close enough). Sadly, the Spring season doesn't look to have that many that interest me? There's Mushishi, of course, and I'll probably check out JoJo's Bizarre Adventures (I liked the bit of the manga i read ages ago, but was intimidated by the length, and this was before I could read scans on my kindle) but other than that, the only things to grab my eye are a couple of shorts and the one about the lesbian romance in an all-girls boarding school where all the girls are assassins. Maybe others will sound more interesting once they've started airing.

3. Also related, there seem to be fewer and fewer shoujo series lately? This saddens me. I know more shounen series are realizing that girls like this stuff too and shaking up the series some to accommodate for that, but it isn't exactly the same thing.

4. To move on from anime, I haven't watched Once Upon A Time since that one character died about 3/4 through season 2. I didn't consciously drop it and will likely catch up eventually, but I came across this Regina spoiler...

I kinda blurted this out on twitter but I'll behave better here... )

5. Last week I stumbled across a book called Ever After High at the library which led too me watching the webseries which in turn led to my mainlining all the Monster High webisodes, specials and movies in about a week. Both series are based on toylines. Monster High came first and is about the sons and daughters of the Universal Studios monster characters attending high school together, while Ever After High is about the sons and daughters of fairy tale characters, though both series also borrow from similar stories not actually in the "canon" that spawned them. As both series are designed to make nine-year-old girls beg their parents to buy them dolls, they focus mostly on the female students. Monster High is extremely entertaining and is pretty straight forward "typical high school stuff and Drama, if all the students were vampires and mummies and gorgons and werewolves and ghosts and such" and can be a bit fashion obsessed. Ever After High, OTOH, is consciously critiquing and deconstructing its source canon (on a very basic level, because, like I said, meant for kids) and has the students being molded to repeat their parent's stories, something that the children of the villains, sidekicks and rogues really aren't very keen on. Of the two I prefer Ever After High even though there's a lot less of it, but they're both a fun way to pass time.

6. So, about 60% of my eagerness to get WisCon panel assignments is to find out what media I'll spend 6 or so weeks binging on. Please tell me I'm not alone in this.
meganbmoore: (kyoko moko)
Chihayafuru is a 50 episode (plus an OVA) anime based on a Josei manga about Karuta. Specifically, about a high school girl named Chihaya who is absolutely obsessed with Karuta and intends to become the best Karuta player in the world.

Karuta is a sport with 100 cards with Heian era poems written on them. Each player gets 25 cards, and a reader sings the cards. The first person to touch the card that's read claims the card, regardless of which side it's on. The goal is to have no cards left on your side, and you can send the card of your choice to your opponent's side after claiming one of their cards. The sport relies heavily on memorization and speed, and the placement of cards and choice of cards to send sometimes borders on being a form of psychological warfare. The sport is played in both one on one matches and team matches, and team members sometimes find themselves opposing each other in individual matches. Because it's only the first few syllables of the poem that are needed to win a karuta match, most players don't bother learning more than the first few lines of each poem. While I love pretty much everything about this anime, I give it extra points for being the first sports series I've encountered where the actual sports aspect kept me riveted. The matches tend to be very tense and emotional and the series gets pretty deep into the mindset of both the protagonists and their rivals during the matches. What really makes it excel, though, is the sound. I don't mean the soundtrack (though that's excellent) but the sounds of the matches themselves, with the players hitting the bamboo mats as they claim the cards, and running across them to pick up cards they've knocked away. (Since they're trying to touch the card before the opponent they often hit the cards with enough fore to send them flying across the room.) They's also the readers and how the players respond to the rhythm and timing, which creates much of the tension of the matches. Because of this, I'm actually somewhat leery of of reading the manga, on the one hand, I really want to. On the other, while I'm sure the characters and plot will hold up to the anime, I can see the actual matches having the same level of tension and intensity.

But, back to the plot.

As I said, the plot revolves around Chihaya, a girl obsessed with becoming THE BEST KARUTA PLAYER EVER. Specifically, she wants to become The Queen Of Karuta, a title given to Japan's top female Karuta player. (She has her King Of Karuta picked out, but we'll get to him soon.) When the series opens, Chihaya is a Class B player (the second highest ranking) and wants to form a Karuta club at school, but has no takers. She soon learns that Taichi, one of two boys she played Karuta with in 6th grade, is also attending her school. Taichi, however, no longer plays Karuta. Though he enjoys Karuta, Taichi grew up in a competitive household and quit Karuta because he wasn't naturally gifted at it, and focused on achievements he was naturally gifted at. So Chihaya makes a bargain with him that if she can become a Class A player in her next competition, he'll join her club. She wins, naturally, and we flashback to a handful episodes when the two were in 6th grade and met Arata, the other boy Chihaya used to play Karuta with.

Arata, a new boy in their class, is quiet and poor, and so bullied by Taichi, who wasn't a very nice kid to start with, and it wasn't helped by Chihaya being nice to Arata. Visiting Arata's house one day, Chihaya discovers his Karuta cards, which Arata takes as a sign that they must play. THEY MUST PLAY NOW. And then gets Chihaya obsessed by telling her that there's a card with her name for the first line, thus creating in Chihaya and obsessive need to CLIM THAT CARD. Naturally, they become BFF and decided that they will grow up and become the King and Queen Of Karuta and rule the karuta world forever. Or some such. Eventually, Taichi gets over being a bully and and they become a BFF team, but then Arata has to move away so his parents can take care of his grandfather, and Taichi and Chihaya go to different middle schools.

When Chihaya and Taichi find Arata again after they reconnect, they learn that he quit playing Karuta after his grandfather died, and wats nothing to do with it anymore. Chihaya, of course, considers this to be COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Unfortunately, they live a couple hundred miles apart, so she has to use emails, text messages and voicemails to convince him that Karuta is still THE BEST THING EVER. Most of her time, though, is consumed with getting enough people to form and official club, and preparing for competitions. She forms her club by effectively abducting, bribing, or gambling with them. Her first recruit is Kana, a girl whose family runs a kimono shop. Kana loves the Karuta poems and thinks competitive Karuta is people sitting around in traditional clothing, calmly discussing poetry and complementing each other for instantly recognizing a poem. She deals with the extreme culture shock of competitive karuta by demanding that they attend matches wearing kimonos from her family's store. Kana is my favorite after Chihaya herself. After that, Chihaya almost literally abducts Komano (nicknamed "Desktomu"), the second highest ranking student in their grade (Taichi is the first) who never does anything but study. Because, you know, he's smart, so obviously he's really good at memorization and quick thinking and such. (Our Chihaya is not always overly bright.) The fifth required member to form an official club is Nishida (nicknamed "Porky" for his love of steamed pork buns) who was one of the threesome's rivals when they were kids, but was devastated and abandoned Karuta forever after being thoroughly trounced by Arata. Falling out of love with Karuta is still Totally Not OK, and so Chihaya recruits him through a combination of blackmail and betting. in season 2, the original 5 team members are joined by two new underclassmen. The first is Sumire, a girl who joins because she has a crush of Taichi (she sees herself as the heroine of a shoujo manga who will win the gorgeous but cold school prince from her beautiful rival), and the second Tsukuba, a transfer student who played Karuta in Hokkaido, where they go by the second verse instead of the first, and play by completely different rules.

The series focuses heavily on the matches (over half the second season takes place over the course of one tornament, though I didn't realize it'd been that many episodes until I'd finished) and the friendships between the players and their love for Karuta. They also have a lot of rivals of various import (the most significant probably being Shinobu, the current Queen of Karuta, and Retro, another childhood rival) though the big tournament in season 2 introduces several new rivals who I really hope to see more of in season 3. If there is one, which I really hope there will be. There's a romantic triangle between Arata, Chihaya and Taichi, but there isn't a lot of focus on it. I'm also not sure how much of a triangle it is when one love interest is isolated from the rest of the cast most of the time, and when the person in the middle has a pertty clear preference, but is completely oblivious to the feelings of all parties (including her own) and the "third wheel" is well aware that he's nowhere on that radar, and isn't likely to be. I'd actually go the OT3 route, but Taichi has moments where he almost goes into Nice Guy mode, and tends to try to control Chihaya's interactions with and knowledge of Arata's actions at times, though he almost always catches himslef in these moments, and knows they aren't ok, so it never gets to the point where I dislike him for it.

Even though there's fifty episodes plus an OVA, there's almost no filler to it. Each of the 2 seasons has the required recap episode that all 24-26 episode series have, but that's it. I suppose you could say the OVA is filler, as it's about what the rest of the team is up to in the last episode of season two when Chihaya is separated from them for plot related reasons, but it's literally a "bonus" episode, and separated from the rest of the series. While the various matches can sometimes stretch out for a while, they never felt, to me at least, like they were dragging or being forced to last longer than they should for dramatic effect or to reach the episode count.

I have a suspicion that this might be my favorite new-to-me anime for 2013, even though January wasn't quite over yet when I finished it. We shall see.
meganbmoore: (7 seeds: matsuri/ryo)
Inari, Konkon, Koi, Iroha 4-5: This show is just so cute! And...not the series of the season that I expected would go the canon f/f route, as it seems to be starting to. I'm enjoying all the focus on Inari and her friends, and am curious to see what they're doing with Uka (Uka's love for visual novels is also starting to make me curious about them), as well as what they're up to with her and Inari's brother. I am considerably less charmed by Uka's brother, and won't miss him at all if he magically disappears.

Magical Warfare 5-6: Episode 5 was annoying with all the focus on annoying romantic triangles. Episode 6 was much better with all the "friends/siblings/mentors as enemies" flying around. However...

semi-vague spoiler )

Nisekoi 4-6: I was very amused by the mtchmaking gangsters who get sparkles in their eyes as they plot. I was less amused by the swimming episode, which was largely an excuse for fanservice. But I'm very much in this one for the fakedating hijinks, of which there are plenty.

Noragami 5-7:

spoilers )

The Pilot's Love Song 5-7:

spoilers )

Silver Spoon 2.3-2.6: Needs more of Hachiken spazzing over food. Seriously though, largely like season one, which is a good thing. The angst plot that threatened to rear its head in the first episode of the season has been backburnered, but will no doubt make a return for the last few episodes.

Wizard Barristers 4-6: As discussed in the comments on my previous post, this show could really stand to lighten up on the sexual harassment. Most of the worst of it is the talking frog (Why does he exist? WHY?) and the rest would be relatiely moderate for this type of anime, save that it;s from adults towards a teenager, most of that because she's a teenager, and so is young and cute.

That said, I'm very curious about what's going on, and am interested in most of the characters (even if I have yet to learn half the lawyers' names).

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (clare has a big sword)
Set around the end of the 21st century, CO2 emission is forcibly regulated in an attempt to regulate global warming, and an earthquake has taken out much of Japan, and destroyed Tokyo, the remains of which have been overrun by vegetation that absorbs the over abundance of carbon monoxide in the air. A new city named Atlas has been built in the rubble, but entrance is restricted, with the majority of Japan's citizens living in districts that are little more than slums, only allowed to enter Atlas if they win a lottery and Atlas's government controls the other districts.

The main character, Kuniko, is the granddaughter of the leader of a group called Metal Age that operates in the district of Duomo. Metal Age believes that Atlas should allow more citizens in and opposes Atlas's control over the lower districts, and so are considered to be a terrorist roup. Kuniko is considered to be the future leader of Metal Age, but isn't actually a member, and isn't sure she always agrees with them. Regardless, because of her connection, she was put in jail for two years, and is released in the first scene of the series. Her Found Family includes her grandmother, Nagiko, who may or may not be biologically related to Kuniko, Momoko, a whip-wielding transwoman (and former owner of a burlesque bar) who is kuniko's surrogate mother, Miiko, Momoko's best friend, a transwoman who used to be a sumo wrestler, and Takehiko, Kuniko's gruff uncle-figure who is Duomo's electrician and leads most of Metal Age's missions.

When she returns to Duomo, Kuniko immediately gets swept up in Metal Age's conflicts, mostly against her will, and becomes curious about what Atlas is really up to, and how hard they're really trying to relocate the people in the lower districts to better housing. Meanwhile, a group of youths known as Carbon Traders are manipulating the global economy, and Ryoko, the leader of Atlas, is waiting for the Inheritor of Atlas to emerge, which will allow her to gain more power. The identity of the Inheritor of Atlas is tied to an old dagger that Nagiko wants Kuniko to accept (with leadership of Metal Age tied to it.) Mikuni, a little girl with a mysterious illness that makes sunlight deadly to her (and can psychically sense lying and kill you with your brain if she's annoyed with you) has an identical knife, as does Kusanagi Kunihito, an Atlas soldier who is too nice to be part of an evil corporate government. (This is actually a plotpoint. At one point, he's told he's too nice to have an epic destiny.) Kunihito and Kuniko try to kill each other and shout ideology at each other the first time they meet, which causes Monoko to figuratively shout I SHIP IT (and possibly name her hypothetical grandchildren) every time they share a scene after that. The series pretends Kunihoti is a possible contender to be the Inheritor of Atlas, but it doesn't put much effort into it, focusing mostly on Kuniko and Mikuni.

It's a Gonzo series with designs by Range Murata, so the aesthetic is something of a bleaker (and not quite as imaginative) Last Exile The metaplot is loosely based on Japanese mythology with a bit of Greek mythology tossed in. The "ZOMG! Environmentalism!" element you'd expect from the plot, but not as much so as some other series, and the ending holds up better than the endings of some other Gonzo series (I'm looking at you, Romeo x Juliet and Last Exile). My big beef with it is that it chooses to use sexual sadism to emphasize that the two main villainesses are eeeeeeevil. Because, you know, nothing else they did would get the point across. I was going to say that male villains don't get the same treatment, but there actually aren't really male villains. While the male/female ratio of named characters is probably fairly close to equal (I haven't actually counted), the male characters are largely in support/underling roles. Even Takehiko and Kunihito, argueably the two main male characters, get considerably less screen time than the major female characters, sometimes less than the supporting female characters. I mostly liked it, and especially liked Kuniko and Momoko, though I went "this is...a very Gonzo series..." a lot, and I'm not even entirely certain what I mean by that.

Also, Kuniko has a collapsible boomerang that sometimes seems to be able to do literally anything. I spent a lot of the series thinking about how excited Sokka from ATLA would be if they met.
meganbmoore: (tnkk: get off me i'm reading)
I'm going to try to watch this season's new anime roughly as it comes out (which for me means "fall behind and then realize that i have a giant figurative pile of episodes to catch up on and binge). The problem with this crop of series is that, while I don't think there's anything that I'm going to passionately love, there are more that I like than I can probably keep up with, even by my lax standards of keeping up with tings.

I think there's at least one episode of most of these that i haven't watched yet, but oh well.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha eps 1-3: This is a cute series about a girl named Inari who rescues a fox cub that falls into the river, only to learn that the fox is a familiar of Uka, the goddess of the local shrine (who appears to be a bit obsessed with romantic dramas), and as thanks, Uka gives Inari the power to transform into other people. The first couple episodes are cute and a bit random, with Inari changing into various people for the opportunity to talk to the boy she likes, and then being tested to see if she can go without transforming for a day. Episode 3 gets a bit more serious, bringing in more gods who draw Inari into their business, and implying that there's more to Inari's contract with Uka than we've been led to believe. There's also Inari's older brother, who's been able to see Uka since he was a child, and who is currently extremely displeased because he knows Uka has done something to his sister, but not what. Inari also has several female friends who she interacts with regularly, and has already bonded with her romantic quasi-rival. As fair warning, Uka also has a brother who has a sister complex that's at least on a par with the one in Kyoukai no Kanata, though, unlike KnK, IKKI doesn't seem to think it's a cute or endearing trait at all, so far.

Magical Warfare 1-4: This one is about 3 teenagers who accidentally gain magic powers after encountering Mui, a teenaged magician from a mirror world where magicians are at war with each other, and the conflict sometimes spills into our world. Mui is looking for her brother, who was captured by an enemy group and has his memories erased so now he thinks she's a delusional stranger who only thinks she's his sister. So far it's mostly been the three humans-Takeshi, Kurumi and Ida-learning about their powers and the magic world, while Mui splits her time between helping them and looking for her brother. It has the potential to interesting things, but so far it's largely been introduction and setup, but I've enjoyed it.

Nisekoi eps 1-3: Chitoge and Raku are the children of two rival gang leaders. Their father's are actually old friends, but the gangs themselves can't stop fighting each other in the street, so the father's ome up with the BRILLIANT idea of having their kids pretend to date. Because, as you know, in anime, gangsters are sooperdooper extra devoted to the heir apparents, so OBVIOUSLY they'll stop fighting to keep the kids happy. Except they only stop fighting to stalk the "lovebirds" and watch for slipups so that they can get back to trying to kill each other. There's also the fact that Chitoge and Raku's meetcute was her accidentally kneeing him in the face while jumping over the school fence, his having a crush on another classmate, and the animanga standard of 'I had this special encounter with someone as a kid and never saw them again and now they're obviously going to be one of my love interests, BUT WHO?" it's very entertaining, though I"m not sure how long the fakedating plotline can be carried. Also, Chitoge reminds me of Sailor Venus, and that's just fine.

Noragami eps 1-4: About a homeless god named Yato who grants the wish of anyone who can pay him 5 yen. One one of these jobs, a girl named Hiyori sees him standing in the street about to get hit by a bus and pushes him out of the way, only to be hit by the bus herself. Because of this, she has the ability to separate her soul from her body, but little control of when it happens, leading to her body being left sleeping in very awkward places. Her astral form is good at fighting, and she and Yato run around a lot, fighting evil spirits, while mythical characters and other spirits start coming out of the woodwork. There's little ongoing plot to speak of, aside from Hiyori wanting to stop the whole "I was just walking along and then suddenly I was walking and everyone is clustered around the girl sleeping on the sidewalk" thing, but i like the characters, and it's very entertaining.

The Pilot's love Song eps 1-3: This is about a bunch of teenagers training to be pilots while living on a floating city. The main character, Kal-El (I know, I know. Get it out of your system, I'll wait. I know it can take a while.) was orphaned during the "Wind Rebellion," during which the royal family was killed and a new government took over, almost a decade before the story starts and adopted by a pilot with three daughters. Kal's youngest sister, Ariel, is a day younger than him, and enters the academy with him. At school, Ariel makes about 5000 friends and Kal falls in insta-love with Claire, a girl from a rich household. The early episodes have been mostly Kal and Ariel getting used to school and making friends, with liberal use of flashbacks to explain what happened in the rebellion, and given us some character's origins. Episode 4 has a plot development that is apparently causing some people agony.

spoiler )It reminds me a bit of both Castle in the Sky and Allison and Lillia, which is probably a good thing.

Silver Spoon 2 eps 1-2: Pretty much just like the first season so far, though with a bit less "fish out of water," and building up to non-"eating the animal you fed last week" angst.

Tonari no Seki-kun eps 1-4: The episodes of this series are only 7 minutes long, and it's pretty much a running gag. Yokoi sits at the back of her class and the boy who sits next to her, Seki, is always goofing off and building/doing something incredibly elaborate and not at all related to classwork. Yokoi gets distracted by him, but anytime the teacher notices, he's put everything away before the teacher comes to look. Most of the dialogue is Yokoi's internally trying to figure out what he's up to, with a few lines from teachers. Seki himself has no lines, at least in these episodes. I think it's very funny at cute while i'm watching it, but get frustrated when I'm not and think about because Yokoi sometimes gets in trouble because of Seki, but he never gets in trouble. I intend to keep watching it, but doubt I'll post more on it.

Wake Up, Girls! ep 1: About a group of girls who become an idol group under a new label. I enjoyed it, but there were a lot of gratuitous panty shots when they performed, and the episode ends with a potential sponsor telling them to change into tiny white bikinis. I will probably watch more, but not until I hear more feedback about it.

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil eps 1-3: Wizard Barristers is an anime about, you guessed it, WIZARD LAWYERS. In the near future, magic is somewhat commonplace and magic users have a whole set of criminal laws devoted just to them, and lawyers, who are also wizards, who specialize in their cases. Oh yes, and police departments just for them. Wizards are special. The main character, Cecil, is the youngest wizard barrister ever, having passed the bar exam at 15, and her mother is a wizard who is also a convicted criminal. The series follows Cecil and the other lawyers at her firm in their legal adventures, though the series has started hinting at a conspiracy. As such anime is prone to do. Part of Cecil's magic is to control metal, which she uses to form a giant robot so the series can pretend it's a giant robot anime. because it can. I like this one a lot.

I also watched a bit of Witch Craft Works and No-Rin, but neither first episode really help my attention. I might try them again later.
meganbmoore: (kyoko moko)
Gingitsune is about Makoto, a tenaged girl who is the next successor of her family's shrine. The shrine has been owned by her mother's family for generations, and her father, Tatsuo, is the current head priest. Because Makoto is the shrine's "True Successor," she can see and communicate with the shrine's herald, a 7-foot-tall fox spirit named Gintaro who is several hundred years old and very grumpy. Only the successor can see the herald of a shrine, and Makoto "met" Gintaro when she was 3, and he largely functions in the role of an older brother or uncle to her. One who constantly gets dragged into whatever Makoto is currently getting herself into, despite his complaining. Tatsuo knows about Gintaro and believes in his existence, and tries to please Gintaro even though he can't see or hear him. Eventually, the family is joined by Satoru, the successor of another, much larger shrine, and one of his shrine's herald's, Haru. Like Makoto, Satoru became his shrine's successor at a very young age, but he was raised by relatives who were angry that the shrine was left to him, and who were emotionally neglectful, though apparently not outright abusive. Like Gintaro, Haru is a fox spirit, but a much younger and smaller one, and she's much more possessive of Satoru than Gintaro is of Makoto. (Outwardly so, at least.)

The series is a very laid back, slice-of-life series. There's lots of emotional stuff going on with all the leads, and a large variety of relationships develop, none explicitly romantic (there's some crushing, as these are teenagers, after all, and one of Makoto's friends has a boyfriend, but that's about it). Much of the action is driven by Makoto and her frinedship with two girls in her school, Hiwako and Yumi, as well as Makoto, Satoru, Gintaro and Haru learning about other shrines and their heralds. (I really wish I were more surprised that fandom has chosen to primarily focus on the two male characters who interact in a total of two episodes-one of whom only has lines in those two episodes, I believe-and barely notices all the other relationships, most of which involve one or more of the female characters, but that's fandom for you. It's not that I don't see the appeal or didn't find the interactions entertaining, much less dislike the pairing, it's just that, IMO, in no way were they more important, interesting or entertaining than the rest.) I've seen the series compared to Natsume's Book of Dreams, which is probably pretty accurate, though I haven't seen the anime, and only read a bit of the manga. (I did like what I read of the manga, I just haven't made it back to it.)

The anime apparently only adapts the first few volumes of the manga, so hopefully there'll be a second season.

I also watched the Mushishi OVA, the plot of which revolved around an eclipse caused by mushi and a pair of twin little girls, one of whom was cursed mby a mushi to not be able to endure sunlight. It was very very pretty and enjoyed stomping onthe audience's hearts a lot. Somehow I didn't know there was going to be a second season of Mushishi until the last minute of the OVA told me so.
meganbmoore: (red data girl: goddess)
Oh, what a mixed bag this was.

Kuriyama Mirai is part of a cursed clan of spirit warriors who has the ability to control her blood, including turning her blood into a sword. Kanbara Akihito is the son of a spirit warrior and a a demon, and is also immortal, and his two best friends are part of the clan of local spirit warriors who run things. The first time they meet, Mirai tries to kill Akihito because, hey, demon, and that's what spirit warriors do. Except there's the immortality bit and it changes to "hey, demon I can practice on." Akihito isn't overly pleased about this. Eventually they become quasi friends and partners, and Mirai also meets Mitsuki and Hiroomi, the siblings mentioned before, as well as a pair of friendly female demons, not to mention pulls a Kyoko Mogami on her mortal enemy. And, of course, there's there's a larger plot about a powerful demon lurking around and hijinks among the ranks of spirit warriors.

So far, all well and good, right? Then there's the flipside.

Mirai is a girl raised to believe she's cursed, her family is hated by the other clans of spirit warriors. She was raised in isolation, literally spending most of her life in an attic, and had exactly one friend, who is no longer with her. given this, what the show chooses to focus on is how cute and clumsy she is, playing up the moe aspects as much as it can at times. And here's the thing, I've watched several moe series last year, and the moe that's played up here is a lot more than what the actual moe series had. In addition, those series were almost exclusively about the girls and their relationships with each other and their figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives. And while there was some fanservice in them (and i'm well aware of who the target audience for most moe shows is) the fanservice was almost never done for the pleasure of men within the canon, but it is in KnK. The last 3rd of the series makes me think that a lot of that was Mirai playing things up to help create a certain image of herself, but you have to get through a lot of it to get there.

Then there's the guys. In general, as characters, I enjoyed both Akihito and Hiroomi, but the narrative surrounding them is frequently awful. Hiroomi has a huge sister complex and Akihito has a major glasses fetish (Mirai wears glasses). They frequently discuss their fetishes and how Mitsuki and Mirai fit into and feed those fetishes, frequently in detail and in front of them, and bemoan the state of things when the girls aren't behaving in a way that feeds the fetishes. Neither Mitsuki nor Mirai is impressed with this, and Mitsuki is openly disgusted by their behavior and calls them on it (Mirai is openly uncomfortable, but has no idea how to respond to it), but the show itself finds this funny and is very "boys will be boys" about it.

There's also Akihito's mother, and I have no idea how to describe that character.

So, pretty much,when the show focuses on the plot and the action and the characters aside from the fetishes and fanservice, I really liked it, but when it wanted to be funny and/or moe, it was an exercise in patience (maybe even masochism?) to get through it, and I had to force myself to focus on the lovely and fluid animation (and it really is good animation) to get to the good stuff. Thankfully, a lot of the more annoying parts are kicked to the backburner for the last 4 or so episodes, letting the anime it could have been show through. In short, i'm glad I watched all of it and will probably end up watching a second season if there is one, but I can't actually give it a wholehearted recommendation.


meganbmoore: (Default)

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