Spring 2015, Week 12: Highlights of the Week

Holy cow, is it that time already? Two shows ended this week and the rest of them will be done next week, mostly. I will admit that I like the endings of seasons better than the beginning of them—if only because of the satisfaction that comes from moving shows from the “Currently Watching” section to the “Completed” section of my Hummingbird account. Anyways, with the season winding down, my backlog watching is ramping up, which is fun and cool!

Sound! Euphonium

Huh?!? The season’s almost over?!?

Assassination Classroom, Episode 22 [End]: In case you didn’t catch it, I wrote a reflection on Assassination Classroom and how we can still learn the lessons of youth after our high school days are over.

Ore Monogatari!!, Episode 11: Things got a bit…tense this week. Episode 12 might be my last episodic post on this show, if only to free me up to enjoy it without having to think so much about it.

Sound! Euphonium, Episode 11: Well, I’m glad Reina got the solo back and I’m glad Yuko suffered and holy wow apparently the Reina x Kumiko ship is still alive, at least if the direction is too believed. You guys should know already what my thoughts were on episode 8, but this…this was something else entirely. Which means, I think, that Sound! Euphonium is obligated to not cop out on this relationship now. If it does, it’ll have hit a point for me where the direction is disingenuous and is actively contradicting what the plot says to be true. And that’s bad. So, be smart Eupho. Don’t make me put you in the trash with Yuko.

Nisekoi:, Episode 11: Oh, an episode about Onodera dealing with body image issues? I’m sure Nisekoi will handle this fabulously…actually…this isn’t that bad, considering what they could’ve done. A full-on Onodera episode with only one episode left, so this was mostly a wash, although the the latter half of the episode was surprisingly…good? Kana Hanazawa, despite how often she gets typecast in the same sorts of roles, is honestly a fantastic voice actress, and her performances in both halves of the episode elevated the entire package. Frankly, I was basically ignoring the subtitles after we switched into “A Good Morning” and just enjoying KanaHana’s voice work and the oddly serene tone the B-part took on. And what do you know? The gentle pacing of this section of the episode sold Onodera and Raku effectively. They had more chemistry in the flashback than they’ve ever had in the main series—and Nisekoi slowing down and simplifying and just letting the story tell itself worked in a way this show has never worked before.

Nisekoi:

Danmachi, Episode 12: Not my favorite episode for a number of reasons—chief among them the rather unwelcome “capture the girl to get to the guy” trope and the story parts of the episode feeling rather rushed—but there were, as always, a number of pieces that I liked a lot. As incredibly rote as the hot springs bit was, having Bell run on water and literally hop like a bunny while screaming, “I’m sorry” is Good Entertainment, and the scenes passed by quickly enough that they weren’t overly annoying. The better stuff was Ryu’s story about her old familia—again, the theme of forgiveness and re-assimilation into a family-like unit returns—and Hestia actually cutting loose her power for Bell (and this after he’d figured things out enough so that he was no longer in danger). Bell doesn’t rescue Hestia; once again, she seeks out to rescue him. The affection (when we’re not dipping into Hestia’s light novel infatuation) between the two of them is so palpable and so genuine it’s impossible not to be happy about an episode where it’s featured.

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic, Episode 12 [End]: And thus ends the best comedy of the season. This finale was more of a lazy slouch into the final “See You!” than the riotous fun I would’ve preferred, but for a show that we’ll probably never see more of, it was a pretty decent way to conclude things. As much as a slice-of-life comedy anime can be, Kinmoza basically had a “and their fight goes on ending,” except with the fight replaced by life. In all the time since the midpoint of the first season, things really haven’t changed much in Shino’s world—and that’s fine. The idea of these goofball kids starting to settle down and prep for college isn’t really one that’s all that fun to contemplate, so letting things ends like this helps to preserve the fun, relaxing world we’ve been experiencing for the past 24 episodes. And that’s okay.

Kinmoza

Yamada-kun, Episode 11: A week later, Yamada-kun is back to being solid, the emotional beats and plot events feeling far less chaotic and far more measured than last week. Better yet, with the tension continuing to rise, the pivotal scenes hit home with a lot more emotional heft—something I distinctly missed in last week’s episode. I’ve never been on the Odagari x Yamada ship, but I have to admit that she’s coming across really well right now. But, as always, the main draw is the Yamada x Urara relationship and, even with the ‘lost memory’ trope I despise in full effect, the two of them continue to operate on a system of give and take, of shared trust, that transcends whether or not Urara remembers Yamada. As for the coming finale…it’ll be interesting. There’s still a lot of content from the manga in between where we are now and where this arc ends, but there are ways they can work it without making everything feel too rushed. I believe in Michiko Yokote!

Yamada-kun


Backlog Rundown:

Kuroko’s Basketball S1, Episodes 1-25 [End]: Wow. Didn’t expect to watch this entire season in two days. That was a lot of hot basketball boys. It’s okay, though. I got it all out in the upcoming Aniwords column for tonight! Overall, really liked it—can’t wait to get on to season two. 7/10.

Dennou Coil, Episodes 5-8: This show is delightful, but I’m kind of pacing myself with it because it’s a nice show to watch in small chunks. Super charming, fantastic animation, neat concepts, and characters that are being slowly sketched out and filled in with a lot of care. Densuke is still the best, although Poop imouto is catching up.

Oregairu S1 Rewatch, Episodes 1-6: Getting ready for the waterfalls of season two by reminding myself what happened in season one. It was a good decision, as there’s quite a lot I seem to have forgotten since I marathoned this season a couple years ago. One thing is for certain, though. Yui is absolutely amazing and the heartbreak that I know is coming for her eventually has already got my poor heart in agony. Yui, you don’t deserve this. ;-;

Oregairu

25 thoughts on “Spring 2015, Week 12: Highlights of the Week

  1. I am slowly feeling better so let’s get my few thoughts in!

    I am always sad to see the season end ! Yes there are some shows I watched I could care less about but there;s quite a few I willmiss including Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic which I moved up to number two! An absolute delight! And a lot of people including other bloggers think so too! Too bad there is the glut of harems / horror / RPG animes as of late but that how the anime industry works!

    I get a second shot at some of the Dub shows which are have been done quite nicely this time!

    BTW the Summer looks interesting to say the least ! That diminshes missing the Spring shows to an extent!

    And the anime industry continues to be so poor in making anoucements especially for the heavy summer season! There hasnt been one yet which we usually have ! Shame on them Really !!There all have to play games and puff their chest at AX . They are truly out of touch at least with North American fanbase !

    MY WEEK Rankings

    EPISODE(S) of the WEEK

    Assassination Classroom / “Nagisa Time” Nice EP / EP
    Plastic Memories / “Filling Up with Memories” Liked his EP
    Seraph of the End / “Everyone is a Sinner” Lots of Reveals
    Knights of Sidonia / “Random Encounter” Great Action and Suspense
    Show by Rock / “Our Youth is Non-Stop!” A liitle Rushed but Touching
    Hello!! Kin-iro Mosaic / “Because I Love You More Than Anything” Another Delight

    TIER 1 Top Favorites

    Moved Hello!! Kin-iro Mosaic to # 2

    1 Re-Kan!
    2 Hello!! Kin-iro Mosaic / Kiniro Mosaic Season 2
    3 Baby Steps 2 Reading Manga
    4 Arslan Senki / The Heroic Legend of Arslan ALSO ENG DUB
    5 Ansatsu Kyoushitsu ALSO ENG DUB Reading Manga
    6 Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki Reading Manga
    7 Nisekoi 2 Reading Manga
    8 Shokugeki no Souma / Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma Reading Manga
    9 Hibike! Euphonium / Sound! Euphonium
    10 WORLD TRIGGER
    11 Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon?
    12 Show By Rock!! ALSO ENG DUB
    13 Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story
    14 The Labyrinth of Grisaia / The Eden of Grisaia CR
    15 Owari no Seraph / Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign! ALSO ENG DUB
    16 Koukaku Kidoutai Arise: Alternative Architecture (TV) / GITS Moved into tier 1 EP 9 / 10 were very good!

    I am throwing in the OVAS and Movies Too Watched during the season ! Some which were really good!

    OVA’S

    Haiyore! Nyaruko-san F OVA
    Sabagebu! Special 3 Girls Who Never Learn
    Your Lie In April Special
    Nisekoi OVA # 3
    To Love-Ru: OVA # 6 / Chapters “Photography ~Gekishase yo!~”, “Technique ~Otome no Tobira~”, and “Holiday ~Oryori no ☆ waikusu?
    “Holiday ~Oryori no ☆ waikusu?
    Yama no Susume 2nd Season Special Episode 025
    Rolling Girls Special # 1 / # 2
    Ansatsu Kyoushitsu Special EP 0 “Meetig Time”

    Movies

    K Missing Kings
    Mouretsu Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace / Movie VERY NICE
    Aki no Kanade / Another Good Movie !!

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  2. Not sure I would call Yamada-kun “less chaotic” this week because holy that was a lot of plot points in one episode, HOLY. So so wish we had two cours to give the emotional beats the time they need, I was surprised that having everyone forget about Yamada was able to hit as hard as it did given the time they had. I’ve also never been a big fan of the Yamada x Odigiri ship but I have to admit it’s always been pretty well played out, for all that she has the charm power Odigiri is really conscious of Yamada’s own feelings and that contrast does help sell the relationship. And for next week, my goooood we have so much left, just realized that they’ve gotta cram in an entire subplot at least oh gooooood…

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    • Well, it felt—at the very least—like the plot points did have some more room to breathe, even if there were a lot of them. I’m suspicious they’re just going to cut out the sister/president subplot altogether, at least as much as they can. Frankly, I think that’d be best, as sad as it is.

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  3. Writing the weekly wall on my first cup of coffee, which is new. I’ll probably make even less sense than usual and really should go get a second cup. You of course probably wrote last night and auto published.

    Eden of Grisaia ep 10/season finale; Something of a disappointment, as the ending was telegraphed over the last two eps.

    Midseason rating – none due to it being mostly flashbacks and backstory to that point.

    Final rating – a disappointing 2.5, tending towards the low end of average. The show never really lived up to it’s promise, and the final half was laced with deus ex machina (literally given the nature of the Thanatos System). Particularly galling was the poor handling of the sequela to Angelic Howl and the way Amane and Kazuki’s reunion was all but blown off.

    Ore Monogatari!! ep 11; Watched, but I really didn’t know what to say in the face of what you wrote… I actually enjoyed the ep. Have some thoughts/comments, but they never really gelled into something I could write up.

    Plastic Memories ep11; This one was actually something of a surprise, a fairly well done episode without much in the way of badly done comedy. It was also something of a tearjerker, as they’re no longer toying around with any will/won’t games – Isla is dying, and everyone accepts it and seems to have become resigned to it. (Unsurprising in some ways since they deal with these emotions at second hand on a daily basis.) I was surprised that Kazuki assigned Tsukasa to retrieve Isla though…

    Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal ep24; The penultimate episode of the season encapsulates neatly the flaws of the show to date – too much monologuing, too many reaction gasps (even by the standards of a franchise for which said gasps are practically a trademark), not much in the way of stuff actually happening.

    OK, off for a smoke and to brew up a second cup before tackling Eupho and Chihayafuru and the editing pass(es)…

    Sound! Euphonium ep11; blink blink whatinhelldidIjustwatch?

    OK, before dealing with the elephant in the room… This episode brought some interesting things to the fore (and not just the elephant). I loved how it highlighted various bits, and how they’ve all been shown before – things flow naturally from what they’ve so carefully built up episode by episode… Kaori remained true to what she said much earlier, though she would have loved to play the solo, in the end she’s in it for the fun of companionship and love of music. Poor Yuuko isn’t actually evil (or stupid as shown in the scene where she’s listening to Reina practice)… she’s just blinded by her love for senpai and willing to sacrifice almost anything to what she sees as supporting her. I’ve said it before, but the lack of a real jackwagon in the cast is one of Eupho‘s few flaws… but this week Asuka did her level best to win the audition for that role. Her scene with Kaori really brought to the fore how self centered she really is.

    The re-audition scene was so well done I’m still in awe even near to a week later. Even I could tell the difference (subtle but there) between Kaori and Reina’s performances. The audience responses while they were playing were lovely and spot on. But in the end, most of it played out exactly like I would have expected given the events to date – the popular Kaori got more ‘votes’ than the less popular Reina, and most of the band simply sat on their hands and as is their habit, refused to commit.

    Commitment, in it’s various forms, is a thread that runs deeply through Eupho and this ep once again rang the changes on that theme. (A topic for a blog essay or AniWords? Assuming you see the same as I do.)

    I was a little surprised by Kaori giving up the spotlight, but the more I thought about it the less surprised I was… they even highlighted the feelings (mentioned earlier) that lead to it in the flashback. She’s competitive enough that she was willing to jump on the proffered chance for a re-audition, but not so selfish and competitive as to take what she ‘won’ in an unfairly rigged contest and amidst the pressure lose what she really wants.

    And now, the elephant…

    Wow… that went ever so much beyond ep8 even while flowing naturally from it. I really don’t know what to say… (Though that won’t stop me from doing so.) I maintain the position I stated back in ep8’s write up though – this isn’t necessarily yuri, and I won’t fault the producers if they don’t go that way. (With the catch that they have to deal with this somehow.) Despite Kumiko’s confession, humans and human relationships are so much more complicated than that and people miss that due to the constant oversimplification in the media narrative. Worse yet, culturally, westerners love to put things in a neat little 2d array of ticky boxes – when in reality, not only are relationships (at least) 3d… it’s a spectrum that fades from one to the next, without clear dividing lines. Euph had dealt with this brilliantly to date, as WingKing said last week “The main cast, the supporting cast, even the teachers, they’re all allowed to have strengths and weaknesses and shades of gray. There isn’t a single person here who’s just a one-note character or a trope-on-legs”. They’ve doubled down on ep8, and even with the quality to date, they’re painted into a corner now.

    One way or another, Euph is going down in a firestorm… which saddens me somewhat because it’s subtle brilliance will be overshadowed by the KumikoxReina ship no matter how they handle it. (Much like Saekano was lost to the fanservice… a meta corner they painted themselves into and couldn’t get past or over in the minds of so many.)

    No comment this week; I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying ep 12.

    OK, having edited what I’ve written so far, I’m going to go get breakfast before coming back for Chihayafuru, my head is really something of a mess after writing up my thoughts on Euph.

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    • “(Much like Saekano was lost to the fanservice… a meta corner they painted themselves into and couldn’t get past or over in the minds of so many.)”

      Agreed, and I’d offer a similar assessment of Food Wars, which thanks to the first three episodes is still “that food porn series” in the eyes of many, even though the fanservice lessened and the quality characters and writing really came to the fore as the season went on. Food Wars and Eupho are the only two shows on my list that didn’t deliver me a single disappointing episode all season.

      “I maintain the position I stated back in ep8’s write up though – this isn’t necessarily yuri, and I won’t fault the producers if they don’t go that way. (With the catch that they have to deal with this somehow.) Despite Kumiko’s confession, humans and human relationships are so much more complicated than that and people miss that due to the constant oversimplification in the media narrative.”

      Pretty much my thoughts too. The other complicating issue, besides the imprecision of labeling feelings, is the fact that we have to evaluate these scenes through subtitle translations, and Japanese is a notoriously imprecise language, especially when you’re translating it verbally without the benefit of having kanji to work with to clarify things. But if you go to romajidesu.com and ask for an English-to-Japanese translation of “love,” it gives you about 25 different Japanese words to pick from, all with varying connotations of type and intensity (“ai” is not the same kind of love as “suki,” for instance), and even the best translation can’t always convey those subtle distinctions to someone who doesn’t actually know the language. I felt like Reina’s feelings for Taki-sensei in episode 10 were one of those times, because the translation of her lines was so full of likes and loves and this one in quotes and that one not that I couldn’t honestly make much sense out of it. I wanted to go on a forum somewhere and ask, “Does anyone here actually speak Japanese who can tell me what the heck she REALLY said and meant?”

      Anyway, I’ll be back later tonight with my own text wall for the week.

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      • That’s an interesting site… but the output seems to be as much thesaurus as translator, comparing the output of both romajidesu.com and thesaurus.com for “love” is very interesting… They both seem to give words that are for expressing degrees of affection or friendship as much as they are for expressing degrees and types of love. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of imprecision in Japanese as the need for the translator to carefully choose the correct word for the context. (This is a huge, huge problem for translators and a major roadblock for natural language machine translation.)

        Some insight into this can be gained by studying these 30 versions (http://www.bopsecrets.org/gateway/passages/basho-frog.htm) of Basho’s Old Pond haiku. It’s also why I own multiple volumes of haiku translations… Older translations especially tended to be made by linguists with no particular skill or training in poetry. The translations also evolved over time because neither our understanding of Japanese haiku nor the nature of English language haiku are static.

        It’s a problem I’ve encountered elsewhere as well. I used to find it hard to read some translations of arms control documentation, because of the frequent and seemingly odd use of the word “block”. Finally, a friend and Russian scholar examined the originals and the translations and identified the problem… We (in English) have different words for different functional parts of a missile (stage, system, group, unit, module, etc…), while the Russians have only one and extract the meaning from context. Whoever had translated the documents hadn’t worked out the meaning – they’d just used the the literal translation (“block”).

        So, yeah, finding someone who speaks Japanese and asking them for their take on what she said might be interesting.

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    • Re: commitment – I actually think I’ve already somewhat covered that in a tumblr post I did way back in the early weeks of the season.

      And yeah, Eupho really is in a corner thanks to the Kumiko x Reina ship. Obviously, you know where I stand—although I’m at the point where I’d rather call it an intense crush rather than “yuri” or a “ship.” Both of those terms are thrown around so much that I they feel less substantial that what we’re actually seeing on screen. I think it’s been cast in romantic terms, but they’re standing just enough on the razor’s edge that they don’t technically have to commit to it. Which I’m honestly not that much a fan of—and not just to have things clear and in a box, but more because I think, at this point, it’s non-committal storytelling more than it is nuance.

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      • I think anyone here who is following Euph seriously has established their position on Kumiko x Reina at some point since ep 8. 🙂

        I don’t follow you or even use Tumblr or Twitter.

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  4. I remember feeling much the same way about Dennou Coil when I first watched it. Fantastic show in so many ways, really something different and awesome, yet I had to watch it at much more gradual pace than any other anime I was watching at the time. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely something that stuck in my mind about the experience.

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    • Yeah, binging Dennou Coil honestly feels like it would be a huge disservice to the show. It’s not the type of show where you really need to carry things over from episode to episode beyond your investment and enjoyment of it.

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  5. My Top 5 of Week 12
    1. Euphonium ep 12
    2. Food Wars ep 12
    3. Yuki Nagato ep 12
    4. Houkago no Pleiades ep 11
    5. F/SN:UBW ep 24

    Quick thoughts:

    Euphonium ep 11. This episode taught me a lot about Kaori, most of it good. And a lot about Asuka, almost none of it good. The latter was the one character I was having a lot of trouble getting a good read on, though, so at least it cleared her up in my head somewhat. And man, the tension heading into that audition – we all knew Reina was better, even Yuko knew Reina was better, but we still had no idea how exactly it would play out once thrown into the blender of high school popularity politics. Taki-sensei played it smart with the inconclusive vote, though, giving Kaori the first option to accept or decline it herself. Kaori may have wanted the part, but she isn’t selfish enough to put her own interests above what’s best for the band when she knows she’s clearly beaten, and I think Taki-sensei was counting on that. Also noteworthy was Kumiko putting herself out there by standing up and leading the applause for Reina, when at the beginning of the year she wasn’t even confident enough to take a side between playing for fun or for nationals. Now she’s firmly taking a side (and publicly opposing the upperclassmen) in the middle of the band’s biggest controversy of the year. That’s a huge step for her, and it’s fitting that it’s the performance of her muse, Reina, that motivates her to do it.

    Food Wars ep 12. Hits the midseason mark in style with an extremely satisfying climax to the first cour, a believable resolution to Megumi’s situation, and finally showing us a few cracks in Souma’s armor. The way this show just keeps getting better with every arc, I’m starting to think that I’m going to have to keep going with the manga once it’s over.

    Yuki Nagato ep 12. Another good episode of intense, slow burning drama, as Yuki is left repeatedly confronting and questioning her own identity. I saw one reviewer last week comparing this current arc to Serial Experiments Lain. I’ve only seen a little bit of that series, but I think it’s a fair comparison, at least thematically.

    Houkago no Pleiades ep 11. The story has started coming together nicely over the last few episodes after some of the muddled earlier installments, and this episode answered a lot of questions that I had. The themes this week reminded me strongly of Shugo Chara, in a good way. I see a few different possible outcomes for tomorrow’s finale, but whatever Gainax does I just hope they execute it well.

    F/SN: UBW ep 24. A mostly satisfactory climax, but with only the epilogue left, this season’s still going to end up with just a 6 rating on my scale. That’s a big drop from the 8 rating I gave season one. It’s funny, though, to think back and remember that it’s solely because of F/SN that I bought a CR subscription last fall, and without that I probably never would have watched Yuki Yuna, Saekano, Euphonium, Food Wars, and several other shows that I’ve enjoyed immensely since then. So even if F/SN itself hasn’t been all I hoped for, it still gave me a lot of great entertainment, just not quite the way I expected it to.

    Danmachi 12: Oh my. Is that nasty-looking beastie that showed up after Hestia used her power the reason why the gods aren’t allowed in the dungeon? I guess we’ll find out. Also, this might be the first time I’ve ever seen an anime where girls discover a guy peeking on them in the bath and DON’T blow their stacks (before anyone says anything, Bath Time With Hinako doesn’t count!).

    Backlist: One of the local arthouse cinemas was playing A Letter to Momo this weekend, and I went to see it with a friend. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. Besides being a really good story (blending comedy, drama, and supernatural fantasy), it excelled on a basic human level in its depiction and characterization of both Momo and her mother, who are grieving and trying to cope after the sudden recent death of Momo’s father – the title refers to a letter he started writing to Momo and never finished, that she now carries around with her. I definitely recommend seeing it if you can.

    With the season almost over, here briefly are my top three favorite openings and endings of the season.

    Openings:
    1. “Hey World” from Danmachi. Fun fact: that’s Aoi’s seiyuu from Yama no Susume singing this one.
    2. “Dream Solister” from Euphonium. Love the song and the animation, but it gets docked a few points for copying Haruhi with the zoom-in on Kumiko’s eye.
    3. “Angel Blossom” from Nanoha Vivid. This isn’t Nana Mizuki’s best Nanoha OP – I’d rank it third behind “Innocent Starter” and “Secret Ambition” – but it’s good enough to make my top three in a season that doesn’t have a lot of OPs I’m super psyched about.

    Endings:
    1. “Tutti” from Euphonium. It’s fitting for the music anime that both its opening and ending should make my list.
    2. “Koko Kara, Kanata Kara” from Houkago no Pleiades. If there’s one opening or ending that’s really grown on me since the season started, it’s this one.
    3. “Spice” from Food Wars. I like the song, but it’s the part with the Polar Star dorm residents doing an homage to da Vinci’s The Last Supper that really puts it over the top.

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    • I’m trying to remember when I subscribed to Crunchy… I’m pretty sure it was because I couldn’t wait a week for the next ep of Wake Up Girls!. And, I’m somewhat ashamed to say, because it was about the same time they fixed the bug that had been preventing ads from showing up on the Roku player.

      Good comments on Euph, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t think the world of Breast Girl – I mean Asuka.

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      • I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t think the world of Breast Girl – I mean Asuka.

        Clearly, I have not be outspoken enough on the blog about my dislike for Asuka. I’ve been very vocal on Twitter, but maybe it didn’t flow over into here.

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    • Asuka is a poop. And that’s all I’ll say on that.

      Good on Fate for getting you into Crunchyroll—you really have gotten into some great shows thanks to it. The irony there is…well, it’s quite amusing, I suppose. ^_^

      Yeah, all the girls in Danmachi were pretty w/e about Bell showing up—not sure how much of that is him and how much of that is them (well, I guess we know that with Hestia haha). Looking forward to seeing how Hestia’s god power was related to the dungeon starting to collapse.

      My OPs/EDs list is a little bit different, but “Hey World” is a song I’ve purchased off of JP iTunes and “Tutti” is a great tune that I’ve listened to a whole lot.

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  6. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t read the manga, but I don’t really get the complaints about pacing and such in Yamada-kun. All the episodes I’ve watched so far (haven’t watched the most recent yet) have seemed fine to me. I’ve enjoyed them all immensely. But maybe I’m just not educated enough to notice these things. 😛

    I watched the first 3 episodes of SNAFU S1 this week to see what all the fuss was about, but didn’t find it compelling at all. I guess maybe I’m just too old for some of these high school romances. (Though, you know, I’ve really enjoyed shows like CLANNAD and now OreMono.) Everyone seems to love Hachiman, but I feel like he’s really just a phony and that he’s probably just going to die alone someday, no matter what the anime says. 😉

    I’ve mostly been watching Soul Eater this week. We watched episode 35 last night so, as I understand it, we’ve gotten to the point it diverges from the manga. Though from what I’ve read the ending isn’t that egregiously different. All of the pieces are in place, it seems, but the anime wraps it up much faster and without as much development. I can deal with that.

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    • Well, yeah, having read the manga definitely has affected my perspective on Yamada-kun. There are some emotionally weighted moments that get a lot more space to breath in the manga and thus work a lot better. But, overall, it’s still an amazing example of a good adaptation done with semi-ridiculous constraints.

      You should try out some other places on the internet! Among most of the people I talk to on a frequent basis, it’s generally agreed that Hachiman is just fooling himself and that the show actually works to demonstrate how fake his constructed worldview really is. But if you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it and that’s all good!

      I’m not in the camp that dislikes Soul Eater after it diverges from the manga (or that dislikes the ending), so yeah, if you’ve liked it so far, I’d say you’ll probably be fine with the rest of it!

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  7. OreMono 11: Your post got into my head so much that I decided to re-watch it along w/ some key moments in earlier episodes. Let’s just say that while I still think we saw/interpreted things very differently, I can see much more clearly why the sandcastle scene (taken collectively with what happened in previous episodes) is problematic. Thank you as always for the thoughtful and passionate perspective.

    Arslan: animation issues aside, I have an increasingly nagging feeling that I’m watching a streamlined and watered-down version of the original story. I still find it enjoyable enough to watch until completion, but as it is it’s a tier (or two) below the genre’s best offerings (e.g. Twelve Kingdoms, Moribito).

    (re: Dennou Coil)

    It’s in my Top 10, probably even Top 5 once I get around to re-watch it. Episode 5-8… is when they started to really flesh out the characters and their interaction w/ each other, if I’m not mistaken. Man, I can’t get over the awesome range of animation, the kids’ facial expression, and how they’re so damn adorable without being… you know, artificially Anime Cute. I enjoyed that aspect so much I’m almost sad when the show eventually re-focus on the main plot, although the finale easily made up for it. It certainly paid off to watch it in doses; there’s just so much to digest and savor that it feels like kind of cheapen the experience by rushing through.

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    • Yay, I don’t seem so insane about Ore Mono to at least one less person! xD

      And more voices for watching Dennou Coil in chunks…I really am loving it and I’m excited to see where it goes with its characters and its premise. Definitely has potential to end up as one of my favorites.

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  8. So, Chihayafuru… impressions through ep 20. And it should be obvious that Here Be Spoilers. Stop reading this, and go watch the show.

    Couldn’t miss hearing about the show because Bless mentions it frequently. Looked into it once, and quailed when I saw it was about a sport/game. To be honest, this was also partly because I’d tried to watch Saki and was turned off by the dense infodumps on Mahjong and the very obvious need for the viewer to grasp the game in order to understand the show, which lead me to dropping it. I was afraid that Chihaya would just be more of the same, and other than casually following MLB I’m not much of a sports guy anyhow. But still, he wouldn’t stop going on about it… So I decided to give it a try.

    I’m dang glad I did.

    It’s interesting how subtly the relationships are playing out… it’s pretty obvious, though they’ve only been overt about it once, that Taichi is deeply attached to Chihaya but too diffident to do anything about it. He’s also deeply aware that he’s competing with both karuta and Arata’s ghost (for lack of a better word) for primacy in her life and (hopefully) to be by her side. This is driving his current ambition to be ranked in Class A – he wants to be Arata’s equal, and hopefully beat him to prove himself (to himself and Chihaya).

    Chihaya herself remains completely oblivious to all this… she’s driven and blinded by her intertwined passions to become Queen and to re-unite her idyllic childhood trio. Not in the least I think because she’s always played second fiddle to her sister. It’s telling that though her father claims to want to support and scrapbook the achievements of both his daughters, the first entry in Chihaya’s is her victory and promotion to Class A. Years of work and achievements (a significant fraction of her life to that point) are simply missing – while the family drops what it’s doing to watch her sister’s momentary appearance on a forgettable quiz show. I don’t think Chiyhaya is consciously aware of the implications here, but it was no accident on the writer’s part that the two scenes appear so closely together.

    One result of all this is an unusual twin narrative structure… The story is as much Taichi’s as it is Chiyhaya’s. This is very hard to do, and even harder to do well – and they pull it off with style. The only other place I can recall offhand done equally well is in season 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is as much about Zuko’s journey to self awareness and redemption as the quest to defeat the Fire Lord. Zuko even encounters a surrogate for the Fire Lord in the form of his sister Azula, and it’s no mistake that battle receives almost as much screen time in the finale as the main Aang v. Fire Lord throwdown.

    In the same way, Taichi’s game with Nishida (Porky) stands as a proxy for his internal conflict. It’s interesting how this game plays out partially off-screen because Chiyhaya is paying attention to Oe’s bout with Komana (Desktoumo-kun). There’s a lot of levels of meaning in Chihayafuru‘s cinematography.

    Arata… Arata… he’s the mystery man here. In some ways, he reminds me of how Bloefeld is portrayed in the original Fleming Bond novels. (I’m being specific here because the novels and the movies are very different in this respect.) Though largely unseen, he’s undoubtedly the protagonist and drives overarching plot. Though of course, he’s unlike the villain in a plot in that his doing so is inadvertent and beyond his control and because he’s pretty much unaware of the (unintended) consequences of his actions. I don’t quite grasp his motivations though. It seems to me that he treats his brief encounter with Chihaya and Taichi as ships passing in the night – his karuta life has been dominated by his relationship with his grandfather and the tragedy that resulted (in his mind) on the one day he chose the game over his responsibilities. I don’t think he’s in a race for Chihaya’s affections, but that he too is seeking the return of a happier time. His grandfather is beyond reach, but his friends have opened their arms to him.

    I can’t wait to see how this resolves over the next few episodes.

    Overall, it’s been a helluva ride and dang good show. As my lovely wife said over coffee this morning when I was discussing this writeup – “I’m dang glad Bless wouldn’t shut up about this show”.

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    • As my lovely wife said over coffee this morning when I was discussing this writeup – “I’m dang glad Bless wouldn’t shut up about this show”.

      Your wife said that? (I assume she’s been watching with you?) Man, what a compliment! 🙂

      This seems like a decent time to remind you that I have a two-part(!) reflection on Chihayafuru—but it’s spoiler-laden, so don’t dive into it until you’ve finished both seasons: https://mageinabarrel.com/2014/07/13/art-and-sport-reflections-on-chihayafuru-part-1/

      Anyways, I love the hell out Chihayafuru and I’m incredibly happy you’re enjoying and finding it as layered and compelling and wonderful as I did. I think you’re right on track with a lot of your thoughts on the characters so far, so I’m definitely interested in hearing how things turn out for your experience as you go forward.

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      • Indeed she did and indeed she is. I watched the first two eps while she was cleaning her guinea pigs cage (which is right behind the couch in the living room). When the credits were scrolling for ep2, she firmly said “OK, I’m off to bed, we’ll watch more tomorrow”.

        Yes, I know about your reflection, and never bothered to read it because I had no interest in the show… and once I decided to watch it, it was of course off limits. I usually limit myself to skimming the reviews on Anime Planet and Crunchyroll when deciding whether or not I want to watch a show, I hate getting too many spoilers.

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