Miscellaneous Odds and Ends

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Hi again, all. I haven’t been posting much here lately, for several reasons. One of which is that I’ve increased my weekly posting duties at The Fandom Post from one series simulcast, to three this season. I’ve done some minimal weekly series blogging here in the past to pretty limited success, but now that it’s actually a responsibility of mine that exists outside of my own head I’m trying to really keep up on it. You can read all of my reviews HERE. Here are the three series I’m currently working on:

Ippo

Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting! – Rising

Simulcast on Saturdays

It’s the continuation of the long-running boxing anime. Not my normal fare but my husband is really into it and so I’ve seen all of the previous seasons (100 or so episodes worth), so it put me in the position to pick this up. It’s now into the second half of the season, having started this past Autumn.

It’s one of those anime in which I find a lot of issues (juvenile locker room humor that can border on sexual harassment being the major one, though that’s been toned down in recent seasons), but it’s still compelling a lot of the time and it’s interesting to learn about a sport I’m not that familiar with in real life.

 

Wizard Barristers

Wizard Barristers

Simulcast on Sundays

It’s created/directed by Yasuomi Umetsu, which can be both a good and bad thing (Good – great action direction and animation, Bad – epic female character sameface and fanservicey stuff, also a probably drop in quality as episodes go on).

Conceptually I think it has potential even though the idea – wizard lawyers who help defend other magic users from police prejudice and what-not – sounds very silly on paper. The animation in the first episode was great, too. I just worry a bit that it will pull a Galilei Donna and get middling pretty quickly. We shall see!

 

 

The Pilot's Love song

The Pilot’s Love Song

Simulcast on Mondays

I’ve unfortunately not gotten the chance to watch The Princess and the Pilot yet (though I’m told I should make the time), but this series is set in the same universe and it sounded like it might be up my alley, so I’m hopeful.

The first couple of episodes of this series have been a combination of beautiful settings and mythology with pretty irritating character tropes and heavy-handedness with morals about classism, but I’m hoping some early missteps will even out as it goes on.

 

 

 

Again, you can read my reviews (simulcast and otherwise) at the site HERE. I’ll try to remember to cross-post links here in the future if I can (at the very least, maybe a weekly digest or something). I hope everyone’s Winter anime season has been enjoyable so far.

Disney’s “Frozen”–A Review

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FrozenI came into possession of an automobile recently, after having spent my 32 years prior to that without one. One of the pleasant side-effects of this is that I'm able to make it out to movies more often; the multiplex at the local mall is now within reach, whereas I was previously limited to the one-screen landmark theater up the street and its arbitrary decisions on what to show. Now that I'm mobile I'm not quite so complacent about letting movies pass me by, and so I made it a point last night to get out and see Disney's Frozen.

On the surface, that might seem like an odd choice for me. I'm not known for being all that interested in Western animation (I am, but not to the extent that I'm involved in the anime fandom), and a lot of animated movies from Disney have some pretty problematic issues - a distinct lack of diverse representation being a familiar one, as well as an over-emphasis on the idea of female purity and a lack of agency for their female characters in a lot of their older films. The reasons that drew me to this film were two-fold, the first being that I'd heard that one of Disney's previous fairy-tale-themed outings, Tangled, was actually pretty good and eschewed many of the sexist traditions fairy tales of that kind tend to have (unfortunately I haven't yet seen it, but it's on my list). The second reason is a bit more complicated and falls right at the heart of what I'm trying to say in this review.

From the first time I'd seen a trailer for it, I was practically frothing at the mouth to see Pixar's Brave. The setting, the animation, the apparent themes... I was all over that, as if I'd been transplanted through time into the fantasy worlds of my tomboyish childhood self. When the first reviews started to come out for it, though, I was very disheartened to hear people calling it lackluster, boring, not "on par" with Pixar's other films, and that it was "just another 'princess' movie." I figuratively set aside my bow and arrow and filed the film away with the rest of my life's minor disappointments. Several weeks later, though, counterpoints from critics approaching the film from a more feminist angle outlined a lot of the ways in which the film was incredibly positive, not the least of which was the fact that it was centered around the relationship between a girl and her mother, an interaction flatly ignored by the great majority of other big name animated films throughout the years. I became torn between both sides of the argument, knowing in my heart that the woman-centric critique was probably more in line with what my own reactions would be, but paralyzed by the fear that nothing could possibly live up to the expectations I was harboring. I never did end up seeing the film, and in fact the mere thought of it still makes me a little anxious.

I had no desire whatsoever to repeat that ordeal, so when I began to hear some positive chatter about Frozen I made it my personal mission to get myself out to see it without letting any subsequently-encountered negative criticism dissuade me. Last night was the big night, and I can truly and without any but the most minor reservation say that I loved the movie. Not only is it nicely animated, humorous and full of catchy tunes (I love a good musical!), it's also a very feminist-minded film in ways that are both obvious and subtle.

This review discusses certain aspects of the plot of Frozen in detail. If you wish to avoid spoilers, check out the movie first. It's worth it!

Looking for Hope in Dark Places

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Trumpet

This review contains spoilers for Sora no Woto in its entirety, albeit in a general sense. If you care about spoilers and haven't watched the series, you can watch the whole thing (minus the mid-series special episode) on Crunchyroll.

I managed to completely flake-out during my Book Club analysis of the series, but a re-watch of Sora no Woto recently at least provided a reminder of why I thought the show was worth talking about at length in the first place. Consider this a "bookend" to my other posts about the show. Hopefully I can do it the justice it deserves.

I've noticed that a lot of viewers tend to come to this series with mistaken impressions, and in their defense the creators didn't seem to take many measures against that. The group of five young women - who in many respects look so similar to the characters in K-ON! that I can't really blame anyone for throwing around comparisons - might technically be in the military, but the show spends the bulk of its time delving more into their mundane, day-to-day lives than into the dark chunks of human history that brought them to that place. Their bucolic existence at the very edge of the human race's last frontier doesn't provide much opportunity for action-packed storytelling. The beautiful mythology that's revealed as part of the opening episode almost feels evasive if one hungers for facts rather than majestic lies about what was clearly an apocalyptic amount of human death.

As an anime blogger, I'm familiar with the joy of discovering something unexpected in a title that at first blush might seem like the latest in a long line of clones. As an incredibly insecure human being I'm acquainted with the act of putting up facades, laughing and joking in defiance of feelings that are much darker and more complicated than would be acceptable to present to most people. Sora no Woto draws from multiple wells, sometimes gritting its teeth into an obstinate smile as its future-Earth's seas become desolate and its deserts further encroach upon humanity's last bastions, but at other times exhaling and allowing its characters to uncover remarkable moments of joy and hope. Superficial comparisons to other anime series about groups of girls going about their daily lives ignore the richness that this show has to offer.

Major Backpedaling, LOL

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So my husband convinced me to break up that large post into smaller posts, just because it was difficult to read with so much writing in one place. So I did, and then I deleted the compilation post. Sorry about any comments that were lost in the shuffle, they were a necessary loss in this case.

Look forward to more posts soon!

Genshiken: Second Season First Impressions

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Genshiken: Second Season

Genshiken NidaimeEpisodes: 13

Animation Production: Production I.G.

Licensing Status: Licensed by NIS America

Info: ANN Encyclopedia My Anime List Wikipedia

Streaming: Crunchyroll

Impressions: (Episode 1) There was a time during which I would probably have claimed the original Genshiken as one of my favorite anime series. There was something so novel at the time about an anime that told the story of a bunch of anime fans, and watching the anime in an anime club was an entertaining, meta experience. Looking back on it, though, I've begun to see a lot of problems with the show. Its version of fandom is very male-focused, making jokes out of the sexual arousal some receive by peeking at a figurine's panties or from games where the goal is to get a thinly-characterized anime girl to have sex with you. Its view of women as they relate to the fandom is sort of pessimistic, too - the original series features a character who's outwardly hostile to fandom (for the most part, at least; in one instance she's forced to cosplay), and another who serves as kind of a cosplay fetish fantasy. As often as the show was cited for its "realism," the more I think about it the less accurate it feels to me.

Dog & Scissors First Impressions

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Dog & Scissors

Dog & ScissorsEpisodes: 12

Animation Production: Gonzo

Licensing Status: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks

Info: ANN Encyclopedia My Anime List Wikipedia

Streaming: Crunchyroll

Impressions: (Episode 1) Sometimes being unable to assign a show a genre isn't such a bad thing. Think of all the anime out there that seems to transcend their genre categories to their benefit. Sometimes, though, I get the impression that certain anime can't be categorized because their creators are trying to hard to blend too many different ingredients, making the resulting production seem unfocused and directionless. This series bills itself as a "mystery-comedy," and while I've seen those two elements work together well (some parts of Hyouka would qualify, especially the cultural festival arc), in this case I'm left feeling as though I've been yanked in two different and very weird directions.

Servant x Service First Impressions

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Servant x Service

Servant x ServiceEpisodes: TBA

Animation Production: A-1 Pictures

Licensing Status: Licensed by Aniplex of America

Info: ANN Encyclopedia My Anime List Wikipedia

Streaming: Crunchyroll

Impressions: (Episode 1) I've heard several anime characters (and those in other Japanese media) speak to the desirability of jobs in civil service. My understanding is that these types of jobs are considered more stable in an economy that can often be anything but. The three main characters of this series, Lucy, Yutaka and Megumi, are all starting off their careers in the ward office of an average Japanese city. While the work might be stable and predictable, the weirdness of some of the clients, as well as the quirks of the workers themselves, liven-up what might otherwise be boring work. Lucy's goals are a bit odd, however - the name on her birth certificate is ridiculously long, something she blames on a civil servant who didn't care enough to question it, so she's taken the job she hold currently to try and remedy the sins of lazy servants everywhere.

Free! First Impressions

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Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club

FreeEpisodes: 12

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Licensing Status: Not currently licensed

Info: ANN Encyclopedia My Anime List Wikipedia

Streaming: Crunchyroll

Impressions: (Episodes 1-2) With this series being so controversial in fan circles, how could I not tackle it right away?

Let me set the stage for you. It was the first day of a four-day-long convention. Many of my friends were already chattering about the first episode of this show, its glistening, muscled characters providing a certain form of blush-worthy entertainment to those of us long-time anime fans not used to being catered to so directly. After being asked several times whether I'd watched the episode yet, I decided to return to my hotel room and watch it in relative peace.

The Crowd-Source Heard 'Round the World

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Little witchSo, how about that Little Witch Academia Kickstarter campaign? In case you hadn't heard, Studio TRIGGER, the animation studio populated by many of the cool kids who left Gainax within the last couple of years (The great Panty and Stoc-alypse), submitted an absolutely charming entry into the Anime Mirai (Young Animator Training Project) initiative called Little Witch Academia, about a young girl named Akko who goes to Witch school to become like her idol, Shiny Chariot. The short, which was first posted to YouTube and then made its way to Crunchyroll, became popular almost overnight and has had fans begging for a sequel or a full series order for weeks.

Luckily, TRIGGER announced a sort of compromise at Anime Expo: they planned to open a Kickstarter campaign so that fans could help fund a second episode set in the fantasy world of the OVA. The Kickstarter opened yesterday with an initial goal of $150,000... and handily surpassed that within a matter of hours. With the help of 4chan's /a/ board, as well as many other anime fans, the total amount pledged has now topped $263,000 and is still rising steadily, and the production team is scrambling to come up with some stretch goals (if the email they just sent out to backers is any indication!).

I don't feel qualified to make any major judgments on Kickstarter as the "future" of small-scale (or even eventually large-scale) productions, especially since one of the previous efforts to fund a project, Masaaki Yuasa's Kick-Heart OVA, barely made its funding goal in the time allotted and this seems more like a fluke than anything else. What I do feel more than qualified to comment on is the joy I feel at seeing something that I hold up as being truly good, wholesome, and empowering receiving such fervent support from so many corners of the anime community, as well as from an anime studio which I believe to have a lot of promise and a bright future expressing the artfulness of animation itself (even if they were also responsible for the hilarious but barely-animated Inferno Cop). I also think it's very awesome that TRIGGER is willing to acknowledge its Western fan-base and even directly appeal to its members. As much as we may think that we as Western fans of anime have some direct effect on the anime industry, in most cases that's a delusion that we create for ourselves. In this case, though, we're about to have a hand in producing something awesome.

Here's the Kickstarter video that was posted on their page. I've funded the project at the $100 level (you receive a copy of the Blu-Ray when it's done as well as some other great items at that level).

 

As a note, in the time that I've been writing this, another $3,000 or so has been pledged!

Comment System Upgrade to Disqus

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Hey all, you may have noticed that posting comments to the site has been getting a little bit slow at times. Speaking as someone who sees it from the back end, I’ve also been getting hit with a ton of spam comments just within the past couple of months, and it’s a pain in the ass to delete them with things running at the speed of a tortoise.

In response to this, my advisers are helping me upgrade the commenting system to Disqus which will be a little more user-friendly and feature such upgrades as truly threaded comments, which is something I’ve wanted for a long time and makes it much easier to see different discussions going on. Here are some answers to what I expect are the most common questions people are likely to have:

  • Do I need a Disqus log-on? – No. You can make a Disqus account if you want, but you can also sign in with your Twitter/Facebook/Other social media service log in, or you can comment on the fly (I believe – it might depend on how I decide to have my settings in regards to spam management).
  • Are the old comments going to be deleted? – No. It may take a bit of time for them to re-populate after the conversion, but I’ve been told that they should all show up eventually, assuming everything goes smoothly lol.
  • Is this going to change the way you moderate comments? – Moderation will become more user-friendly for me, but I’m not planning to change the commenting rules. The only type of comments that will be heavily-moderated or blocked will be genuinely harmful or abusive ones directed at myself or others, which has consistently been my policy.

The comments system will be going down today until the upgrade is complete, so please refrain from trying to comment until I post again that comments are open. If you need to contact me for any reason, please email me at jessi (at) s1e1 (dot) com. Thank you!

ETA: Well, that was quick. The comment system should be updated at this point. Enjoy!

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