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Archive for October, 2013

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G

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Remember how the first season of Symphogear sucked? Like, a lot? But it was saved from complete awfulness by small moments so ridiculous that they were amazing fun? Like the entire last episode?

Because Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music… (I’m not going to keep referring to it as that) is that. Only that. Except distilled. Purified. Refined. 13 episodes of non-stop, balls-to-the-walls, over-the-top ridiculousness and self-awareness and fun.

It starts with A TERRORIST POP IDOL threatening to crash the moon to the earth if her groups vague demands are not met and just keeps going from there. You will laugh, you will cry (laughing), and a bunch of school-girls in trashy outfits singing songs will fill you with such manly passion and fire that you won’t know what to do with it.

Basically, it’s fucking awesome.

Time to kick some ass

Time to kick some ass

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If you’ve heard of Rozen Maiden it’s probably because of (or at least, indirectly) A Certain Website’s love, back in the day, of one particular character with one red eye, one green eye, and a habit of ending most sentences in a distinctively pronounced “desu”. If you’ve watched the first two Rozen Maiden series you may have come to the same conclusion I did that, while they’re far from bad, they’re lacking in certain ways. Aside from the poor production values, it could never really settle on whether it was an action/drama series about the so-called ‘Alice Game’ along with Jun’s social anxiety, or slapstick, character-driven comedy about Jun having to take care of a bunch of supernatural dolls. Unable to choose one or effectively pair the two, along with some weak writing in general, the earlier Rozen Maiden entries were ones I did enjoy, but not as much as I could have and wanted to. I was still pretty satisfied by the end, but was left wanting a bit.

This is where I would say how excited I was then when Rozen Maiden: Zurückspulen was announced, but like many people I only watched the originals after the announcement, being generally aware that it was a Big Deal and I should probably look into it. Watching them actually filled me more with trepidation than anything else; a franchise coming back after several years of nothing hasn’t historically been great, and Studio DEEN was going to be handling that. Further, this wouldn’t be a straight sequel, instead adapting the mangaka’s second go at telling Rozen Maiden. So basically, I had no idea what to expect going in.

Depression, apparently

I should have expected depression, apparently

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Do you know how to get me excited for a series as quickly as possible? Because Eccentric Family (otherwise known as Uchouten Kazoku) sure does. First step: have your series be an adaptation of a book written by the author of Tatami Galaxy. Second step: have character designs done by the creator of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Third step: there is no third step; you already have my attention and all my hype.

No matter how you look at it, that’s a pretty damn excellent pedigree. That said, the premise itself doesn’t sound that intriguing. It’s set in Kyoto, or rather a version of it where humans, tanuki and tengu live in varying degrees of together-ness. The story follows the life of Yasaburou, whose father was head of the Kyoto tanuki community but was captured and eaten by the Friday Fellows, as he deals with his family, gets into arguments with other tanuki, handles his cranky, aging tengu master, and messes around with (and is messed around by) a mysterious young human woman.

Actually, on second thought it does sound pretty intriguing. Weird, certainly. Somewhat ‘eccentric’, even.

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How normal are magical transforming raccoon dogs anyway

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Attack on Titan. Shingeki no Kyojin, if you’d prefer. Kind of a big deal. The manga was obscenely popular, and this anime adaptation was hotly anticipated. It was also obscenely popular, attracting over 150,000 watchers during its run on MyAnimeList alone (basically the only metric I can be bothered to look up). Odds are that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve at least heard of it before.

But let’s pretend that you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past half a year (and then some) and have no idea what Attack on Titan is about. Well, the short of it is that humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction thanks to the eponymous Titans, which are huge, inscrutable, humanoid giants that like eating people. Their origin is a mystery. Their goal is a mystery. The reason they only target humans is a mystery. And before humanity knew it, it was pushed back to a single, fortified city, the three layers of gargantuan walls preventing the Titans from proceeding any further. Humanity and Titan are kept in a stalemate. Until one fateful day, when shit hits the fan. Hard.

On that day, mankind received a grim reminder...

On that day, mankind received a grim reminder…

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Love Lab

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Cute-girls-doing-cute-things slice-of-life/sitcom anime series are a dime a dozen (hundred). For one to stand out these days it usually needs to have some sort of unusual twist to its setup, or be animated by studios like KyoAni or SHAFT. It’s those ones that attract wider attention, if only for sheer novelty. Without any of that it’s all but impossible to build some early buzz, and it’s far less likely for the series to be notably successful in the long run. But the greater shame is when a series does nothing to distinguish itself right from the get go, but proves to be genuinely – perhaps even exceptionally – funny and entertaining, because it just won’t get the recognition it deserves.

Love Lab looks set to be a victim of this fate, which is unfortunate because it rises above many of its ilk by just being really fucking funny. The premise – a group of 5 girls in the student council of a girl’s academy practicing romance and stuff – just makes it sound like a very light-comedy series with possible yuri subtext, which is fine enough I guess (it got me to check it out) but is also completely misrepresentative of pretty much every single aspect of it. And what it is instead is a lot better.

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*smooch*

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Gatchaman Crowds

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It’s an undeniable fact that the social and information structure of the current world has been dominated by social media – by the desire to share and opine from people of all walks of life and social stature. The signal-to-noise ratio is abysmal, of course, but the way that society is now more connected and linked than ever before, and how information can propagate globally within minutes as a result, is nothing short of fascinating and unprecedented. But despite social media’s importance and prominence, I can’t help but feel that there haven’t really been any meaningful attempts to explore and utilise it in fiction, to make it a core concept and central theme of an entire narrative. There haven’t really been any stories I’ve encountered that got it.

Enter Gatchaman Crowds. Bearing the same name as an ancient sci-fi anime franchise yet having basically no connection to it in any way, Gatchaman Crowds revolves around a group of young superheroes (of the regular-ish people who transform style) chosen by a quiet and mysterious God-like individual, an obscenely popular and powerful social network that encourages and rewards individuals using their unique abilities to help others known as GALAX, and an insane, maniacal villain who aims to destroy the entire world, all set in a very near-future Japan. And it’s bright and stylish as all fuck.

Gatcha!

Gatcha!

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