News this month? Who cares, it’s moustache time!
B Persona 4
I was under the impression that I would be watching something akin to Steins;Gate. A gradual mystery building under the surface of character interactions that eventually spirals into something crazy. Instead, Persona 4 has gone more in the direction of School Rumble of all things, having characters play off each other in a variety of new settings while constantly introducing more characters to the fray. What’s more surprising is how I am Totally OK With This because the characters are inherently fun to watch. Even the one episode where they did enter the Persona world was lacking in dark and grittiness, yet (or possibly because of this) it was the best episode of the series so far. Not all the jokes hit, it has to be said, but the more time I spend with these people, the more they grow on me.
B Children Who Chase Voices from Deep Below
I was prepared for another Makoto Shinkai borefest and instead got a Ghibli knock-off that did a bang up job of copying Ghibli too. Yes it got a bit silly at times, and took an awful long time to get going. But once it did, it was a fantastic adventure story with endearing flawed characters and themes woven expertly into the overall picture. So bravo Shinkai. If your next film follows a similar format instead of the usual two dullards with no personality narrating over pictures of clouds (not that there weren’t still an abundance of cloud shots in this movie, but whatever) then you may even go so far as to call me a fan of your work.
B Mawaru PenguinDrum
I will miss PenguinDrum a lot. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, especially when it weaves metaphors in with apparently real events with nothing to distinguish the two, but over these past few episodes I’m finally beginning to see a purpose to the story. OK, there’s a lot of themes, from loneliness and abandonment, to the message of not letting other people define your lives or how you see other people, but you can’t fault a series for ambition when they’re still able to juggle these themes as well as PenguinDrum does. What I am a bit disappointed at is it’s seemed to have lost its fun side. Episode 16, the one with the granddad with a piece of paper over his face, was the last I’ve seen of the hilariously nutty PenguinDrum, with every episode from then heaping on the melodrama. It’s well done melodrama, which is rare enough as it is, but I do miss that fun side of PenguinDrum.
B Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing
That’s more like it Last Exile. Episode 4 still had one of those blasted scenes where characters sit around eating food and talking about fuck all that seem to be all the rage in cutesy anime these days, but that has thankfully been the last of that. Even the maid-costume scene was both cute and yet depressing because it was a sign of desperation on the part of the princess in trying to restore her Turan government. The part I’m probably enjoying the most this season is how they’re taking the Gundam approach of characterising the villains, something even the original Last Exile didn’t really bother with. It’s actually a damn good example of how to approach war anime. Focus on a small group of characters on both sides of the conflict who have their own small personal problems that reflect the political situation in the world picture. I just wish Fam wasn’t such a dull character.
Un-Go is deep. Unfortunately, ‘deep’ is a word that has been tainted with the air of pretentiousness and snobbery, with phrases like LOLDEEP being tossed around whenever entertainment attempts to wax philosophically. But Un-Go manages to be deep without being pretentious. It’s such an incredibly clever series, working in so many pieces of social commentary and character depth while wrapping it all in perfectly with the token mystery of the episode. I just wish it could take the hint and stop trying to cram an entire mystery and messages into single episodes. It doesn’t work, and it just makes me feel lost and stupid. Episodes 3 and 4 were a single mystery, and as a result, episode 4 was one of the best episodes of anime I’ve seen all year. Episode 7 did a similar thing, and it was brilliant too, albeit utterly baffling. I really hope it keeps to this format, because that’s when Un-Go has the space to shine like it deserves.
B- Future Diary
I really do like Future Diary a lot, but I also have to be honest with myself here. Two episodes this week were just not very good, and I can’t in good faith give it anything higher than a B- with that record. Fair enough, I get what they’re going for. There’s an underlying sense of danger to these otherwise harmless high school romantic hijinks. But that doesn’t excuse them for being incredibly stupid. Episode 8 was the worst offender at this, what with accidental trip and de-robing entering the fray. The other 2 episodes this week were brilliant, from psychotic craziness to surprisingly heartfelt pieces of character backgrounds that humanised their actions all while playing to this continuous story of how Yuki is being forced to devote his life to Yuno to survive. I just hope the rest of the show is more of that.
The Lancer, Kayneth and his waifu has caught my interest, only the second of the stories in Fate/Zero to do so. The rest of them, from Saber to Kirei to Caster to Kititsugu to Irisviel to Tokiomi to Gilgamesh, I just do not care. I want this show to be about Rider and Waver, and only Rider and Waver. I know I said this before, but that desire has only increased the more I watch this show. Their story is perfect, the father figure teaching the frightened, cowardly yet proud and determined child. Their story is better than any of the other dullards in this blasted show, and they do this while also being the comic relief. You might as well try finding comedy in the bible than from any of them. Even the Kayneth/Lancer/Waifu story I’m really only interested in because of how Kayneth was a large reason why Waver developed this inferiority complex, and it’s nice to see him be shown up for the giant prick that he is. I really mean it, if this show was really just Rider and Waver, it would be top 30 material. The rest of the characters in this show are just obstacle to sit through until I can get more of that duo.
C+ Invasion Squid Girl
Eh, it’s Squid Girl. It’s harmless fun that somehow still manages to make me laugh, even when the jokes are incredibly obvious and I feel like I should have seen them coming a mile away. In a sense though, that’s the mark of a good comic. When you don’ see the joke coming but it’s incredibly obvious afterwards, similar to how plot twists work. They’re obvious in retrospect, but still surprise you when they come around. That all said, Squid Girl has always lacked the spark to make it a truly memorable comedy. It occasionally hits that sweet spot, such as the first Mini Squid Girl segment last season, but for the most part it’s too safe and aims too low to get me excited.
C+ In the Forest of Firefly Lights
Short, simple, charming and completely forgettable. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh on the movie, but setting your bar low and achieving it doesn’t really excite me personally. Oh sure, it’s functional, watchable and tells its story perfectly fine. There are some issues with length and drawing out their interactions a bit longer than was necessary, but it’s hard to find any genuine faults with it. But entertainment does not start from a perfect 10 and then take points off for every flaw. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but yeah, I’m just repeating myself. See? It’s so light on content that I can’t even fill a proper paragraph here without repeating myself.
C- Hunter X Hunter
We’re starting to see the so-called darker side of Hunter X Hunter that all you “it gets better, I swear!” crowd have been loudly proclaiming since the off. And you know what? I’m not so sure I want to see that. It’s feels almost silly, trying to insert these grimdark stories into a shounen series as goofy as Hunter X Hunter. Watching those two goons explode when they walked by Killua on the ship was nonsensical, the two sides don’t gel. Again, this show is never a chore to watch, and the face off between the main characters and the prisoners has actually been kinda fun, with its imaginative challenges. But now that I’m seeing this grimdark ‘better’ side, I’m not so sure I really want to be in this for the long haul.
C- Guilty Crown
While I’ve dropped Guilty Crown from episodic blogging, I’ll probably keep watching for at least a few more episodes (if only to keep up with the cool kids). I dropped because it was stupid and stupid in ways I was struggling to find anything new to say about. Besides, episode 7 was genuinely entertaining. A lot of the same problems with Guilty Crown were present, but you have to respect any anime with Dan Eagleman in it. It’s still a fairly awful show though. I bet Guilty Crown will become one of Those Anime that I keep referencing points to as things anime do badly and other anime shouldn’t follow suit. I’ll call it Don’t Do A Guilty Crown or something like that.
It’s almost as though Chihayafuru saw me struggle through the first 4 episodes and took pity on me. Hence, in episode 5, it strode in and held up a big sign say “turn back now Scamp. You know you don’t like this sort of stuff. Why are you even bothering? Oh sod it, roll with the awful shojo nonsense”. And so we got awful melodrama with characters being apparently incapable of experiencing more than one emotion at a time, yet they feel like expressing that emotion with incredibly simplified yet dull and drawn out nonsense. I may have been fooled by Chihaya’s exuberance in the opening episodes, but I’ve got to stop kidding myself. The gormless ignorance of her surroundings and eternal niceness mean that this is just another Tohru Honda. So I gave in. Cool for you guys who like this kind of stuff. Elsewhere Chihayafuru has been getting great reviews. I just can’t do shojo.
D Macross Frontier: Wings of Goodbye
I think I’m a month late with this. Anyway, I saw the first movie when it came out, but I had such a non-reaction to it I ended up fast-forwarding through the final half hour. I wasn’t planning on picking up the second movie, but the Bakacast people were watching it (did I mention I’m on the Bakacast this season?) so I had to watch it or else be left out of the conversation. I really don’t understand why I and Macross Frontier don’t click. I liked the prison break scene for the sheer absurdness of it, but everything else was a sea of pop music and technobabble which swept me along like an uninterested piece of driftwood, occasionally being awakened by a particularly nice bit of mecha conflict. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the pop music. Maybe it’s because it’s all too naff for me. Maybe I just need to be in a very specific mood for this series to get to me. It did take me two attempts to get into the TV series, so catch me on the right day and I might have enjoyed this film. As it is though, I blanked again.
F- Ore no Moustache
Cheers to all those who donated for my Movember challenge. I said I would post a picture of my moustache if I reached $20, which I was honestly worried about ever reaching. The total donation amount ended up being $130, so thanks to you guys for totally shocking me (even if $10 of that was my mum, but still). So instead of posting a picture of me looking self-conscious about my facial hair, you get one of me looking like a self-absorbed prat.