I don’t understand it JC Staff. You make it so difficult for me to like you and by extension, OPM. I want to of course, every week there are these flashes of brilliance. These moments where I think “they understand. They care. They can do it”. And then in the very same episode, you manage to ruin it, in every aspect of production. This week you managed to impress me in so many ways, and then instantly destroy it a few minutes later. For instance, you manage to add your own spin on some scenes that were basic panels in the manga, like the above. Yet earlier in the same episode, say the tree branches pull of Garou for example, you manage to lessen it. Switching up the camera angle so there is less to animate. Weakening the scene. Long story short. you just leave me confused JC Staff.
As I mentioned before, lets talk animation for a second. Parts were great, like the clip above. JC Staff really upped what was a single tiny panel in the original manga. Really, for the most part the entire fight with Genos was pretty good, with spurts of brilliance in the ongoing fight before it as well. Yet in the very same episode, OPM cut from still, to still, back to the previous still more than once. There is a clear line between where the effort was put in. For some, this may be acceptable, as it does result in some well-made gifs. For me though, it’s just a reminder of what OPM could have been. Visually and in audio.
What I mean by audio is, did anyone else hear Genos’s lazer-tag punches? PEW PEW PEW. Or perhaps the return of the CS:GO gun sound punches from Garou? It really is ridiculous how bad these sound effects are, especially when the OST actually managed to show off this week. Genos’s and Bang’s songs really coming in and pulling their weight near the end. Those were some good tracks! Yet OPM had soured me on it’s audio 5 minute’s in with the terrible sfx work, as per usual. It’s so confusing how this series can alternate so wildly between good/decent to just terrible.
So all in all, how was this weeks episode of OPM? Confusing. So very confusing. There is clear passion behind the project, by at least some members of the team. There are flashes of brilliance as someone does a fantastic job. Whether it be a short sequence, inspired reinvention of a scene, or what have you. Yet right next to that you have scenes that look like they were left on the factory room floor. Unfinished, uninspired, direct lifts from a far better product. With 1 episode left, 1 big closing sequence, I honestly have no idea how it’s going to end. It could be a great ending, if they do it justice. But it could also capstone this entire disappointing journey with a sub-par finale that, really, should be bigger than Boros from S1. I suppose we will have to wait to find out.
Welcome one and all to the Dororo finale! It’s a difficult one, as parts of it are fantastic, while others just leave me confused. But all in all, I think I enjoyed it, and I definitely don’t regret my time with the series. So, all that said, let’s dive in.
Starting off, I think Dororo visually ended on a high note. There were definitely issues of course, it wouldn’t be Dororo without some. For example, in a lot of the wide shots, the fire just looked pasted on in Aftereffects. It wasn’t even from the same show, it didn’t feel real. A lot more care was seemingly put into the closeup shots around Hyakkimaru and Tahomaru, as that looks much better. Or perhaps its just sheer volume that makes it seem less out of place. Regardless, what this means is that just like last week, the brothers were the visual high point of the episode. Dancing around the scene, fighting and conversing. There was a lot to like here, both in terms of symbolism and just straight up fight animation. As far as the actual ending though… I am conflicted, and let me tell you why.
First up, the good news. I found Tahomaru and Daigo’s endings to be well done, a good end for good/decent antagonists. I wish we had gotten more from Daigo as the series was airing, but he was always more a moral enemy than a physical one. The final battle with him being one of moral growth, as Daigo sticks to his ways, while Hyakki grows to see value in life. That is all fine and dandy in my book, just wish we got more time with Daigo as a character. Meanwhile, Tahomaru’s works best when tied with Hyakki’s, naturally. Solo, I found it a tad to redemptioney, but most of that issue comes with Nui and Junkai, whom I will get to later. Over all though, it was just as tragic as I was hoping for. Sadly, as we move away from the antagonists, the problems begin to arise
For me, Hyakki’s ending was just a tad to… happy. Part of that is how rushed Dororo seemed to make the 2nd half of the episode. With almost no prologue, despite the large amount of baggage and characters worth checking up on. There was never any real mourning on his part for the only two parental figures in his life. We just kinda burned through that. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, his I said before that Tahomaru’s ending works best when mentioned with Hyakki. I loved their heart to heart, the mutual realization that neither had a happy home life. Even living with Nui in the castle, Tahomaru was just as empty as Hyakkimaru, and they came to realize both were neglected. I really liked this, it was a good way to have them grow together. But then Nui and Junkai enter and I start to question.
Simply put, Nui and Junkai’s inclusion confuses me. Not that they were included at all, they were all but required for the ending. They were, with Dororo, Hyakkimaru’s humanity and his veritable parents. Tahomaru’s to in a way. Any resolution without them would be lacking. However its the way they were included that confuses me. Why did they have to die in the tower, there was no urgency with the whole burning castle thing. What about the continuity for how they got there with no one noticing, though the brothers were fighting throughout the tower, yet the entrance is in the one room they happen to stop in? It just feels… rushed and convenient on their end, like they died to fulfill a quota rather than a legitimate reason. This all ties back into my major issue with Dororo as a series though, that being the wandering middle.
The last bit I want to talk about I touched on earlier, in that the episode felt rushed. There was a lot to wrap up and I don’t think Dororo accomplished it all. The big one of course being the supposed time-skip at the end. I understand the desire to leave it open ended, that the “after” wasn’t the focus of the show. However so much was predicated on Dororo’s gold/goal of following in her fathers footsteps, along with her relationship with Hyakkimaru. Yet at the end it mostly got swept away in an ending sequence of a bridge and a golden field. It was nice enough, I enjoyed the callback to Mio, whom I still love. But it felt like we went from “child Dororo” to “teenager Dororo” to “Meeting Hyakki” way to fast. Even 5 more minutes to see results of her work would have been enough.
So all in all, how was the ending? Nice enough. Not perfect, there are a number of wholes and issues, but I don’t regret watching the series. At the very least, we got a complete ending to an anime, which is rare these days. The story is, legitimately, complete. That is wasn’t as tragic as I would have preferred is a tad irrelevant in the face of that I feel. So, was Dororo a good time? Yeah, it was. It flagged a lot in the 2nd cour, but I don’t regret it.
Thanks for sticking with me through the series! A full review should be out by this weekend at the latest, as I get it all written up and finalize my thoughts on it. See you then!
More than any other episode, this week is where Fruits Basket embraces its two opposing spectrums the clearest: it’s reverse-harem hijinks of highschool life and romance and its dark drama about the Zodiac members. By that light, we can be able to see this adaptation’s quality by this episode alone. For example, this 2019 is at its low point when it comes to comedy. With this kind of over-the-top humor the visual presentation (and editing) have to be snappy enough, Fruits Basket the 2019 instead relies static shots. The 2001 version benefits neatly from Akitaro Daichi’s direction (disclaimer: this writer hasn’t actually watched the original Fruits Basket, but he watched Fruits Basket’s cousin Kamisama Hajimemashita directed by the same director), and this current adaptation just doesn’t have the comedic chops to pull off. The result is that all the hijinks of new Zodiac members joining school, and the Student Council members, fall right flat on the floor.
The drama bit works much better in comparison, though. This week we have a proper introduction of Akito, the head of the Souma family and the antagonist of this show if it ever has one. The most interesting bit isn’t the fact that he meets Tohru face-to-face (in which the show smartly underplays it), but his power towards Yuki that makes Yuki trembling with fear. As we learn from the flashback, he had been mentally abused Yuki to the point of submission, and that he always considers Yuki to be his. There’s some nice conflicts for sure that would be a seed for Fruits Basket overarching act, between the dark, toxic force from Akito and the bright, attentive side from Tohru. In fact, Fruits Basket’s writing strength has always been exploring the gap between what on the surface (mostly the Zodiac’s characters), and their hidden feelings and personality behind that mask.
That is to say I expect a hidden, more vulnerable side of this Akito guy as well. It’s obvious from this week that he brings fears, as well as hatred, to many members of the Zodiac, but he too is suffered greatly. For Tohru, she might be simple and forward, but her determination contrasts nicely to the dark force of Akito. Hence, the best moment of this episode is when Tohru instinctively pushes Akito away from Yuki, because she knows that Akito is hurting Yuki. It’s a nice clash between two extremes, and I can’t wait to see more of this conflict. Just remember Fruits Basket, tone down the over-the-top comedy.
Even with Carole & Tuesday standard, this episode is a letdown with many forced developments to move this predictable story forward. These include 1) Tuesday injures her hand but still manage to perform and win the bracket 2) just right at the moment Tuesday said no one in the family care for her, she gets “kidnapped” by her Mother 3) all the subplots about finding the letter bomber, like come on, we all know from day 1 it was Cybelle. Add to the disappointment, I was expecting Ertergun commenting on Carole & Tuesday performance, which I initially thought will be a decisive factor for the duo’s win. Turns out we just have a brief glance at his comment, not about the performance itself, but about the professional attitude. Alrightttt. Is it just me who isn’t sold about Catherine’s argument when she decides the winner? The song’s lyrics seems to be about Tuesday’s own situation, but hey it doesn’t really connect to the “nervousness” theme that Catherine was talking about; and if she meant by the nervousness from their performance, then I’d argue that they would just accept all the performers with stage-fright as “perfectly captures the nervousness” themselves.
I might sound harsh on this, but it’s also true that Carole & Tuesday has failed to give a proper resolve to many conflicts it raised. The worst aspect is that this injury seems to be one-off, given Tuesday can be able to perform in the upcoming week. One factor I do enjoy in the episode, is that Angela immediately suspects Mama and her manager as the ones behind the scene. Well, the latter feels a bit half-baked but I was enjoying the bit when she confronts her Mama and it turns out that they were referring to different things. It serves as a vessel for Angela to rethink about the people supporting her, especially about the hapless young manager. At the same time, there’s some neat point of representing Cybelle thread as it’s a waking call for Tuesday that she needs to voice her opinions more, and that relationships in general can take a dark turn at any time. But the manner Carole & Tuesday depicts is somewhat underwhelming. It’s too quickly for one thing that doesn’t seem to leave a lasting impact, and it’s clumsy for the other as the show gives some obvious red-herrings before that.
Finally, we have some moments where Carole & Tuesday alone to reflect these things together. The show would benefit much better if they can cut down all these unnecessary subplots in order for the duo’s tender moments like this. Tuesday gives some sad reflection about the place she called home, but again all these quiet moments are sabotaged by the obvious kidnap that is meant to raise the stakes again. Carole & Tuesday writing has always been generic and too accessible, but with this episode it goes a step lower by forcing the plot instead of properly developing it. As a result, it often feels like the titular characters get swept away by random events and they have no real personality at all.
I must admit that days after watching this finale I still can’t wrap my head around all the events happened in this episode. Sarazanmai ends in a happy tone, something I didn’t expect from Ikuhara to be honest. On the most surface level, it’s a rescue mission from Kazuki and Enta to bring Toi back. Toi has lost all the hope after the death of his brother, and with the influence of Otter, ha’s about to erase his own existence from this life. This finale saves much of its budget in the first half (hey, I have no complain. It’s an artistic choice) by recycling all the events happened before with Toi’s slowly spirited away. Before this finale, I was thinking Sarazanmai would delve into physical desire vs love conflict, but turns out it’s more about existential crisis, about the desire to live in order to make connection, knowing that it will hurt. That might sound abstract but hey, even the Otter mutters that he is a concept (I have a good laugh here because it could apply to all of Ikuhara’s works). This time we have a musical number playing in full, prince Keppi resolves his own issues by literally embracing his dark self, Reo and Mabu come back like a light, and the trio taking shirikodama out of butt for the last time.
If we split this finale in half, there are some interesting parallels interplay between these two. Just as the first half concerns with flashbacks, the latter half brings us to its flash-forwards about possible futures of the trio. These flashforward images aren’t the happy ending though, as we see either they have to face the harsh truth (Toi is in the youth detention for his actions), the disappointment (Enta still can’t express his love) and the pain as well (Kazuki breaks his leg that caused him not to play football again). Keppi sums it nicely with “Hope and despair are both one with life.” Also metaphorically, the two halves have the motifs of these boys diving down the water. The early half is when they face the circle of connection, and the second half is when Toi jumps off the bridge and meets the others there. Well, I said “metaphorical” because it otherwise makes no literal sense to me why Toi jumps.
As a whole, even with me as a hard Ikuhara fan, Sarazaimai’s events sure are hard to pin down and make sense of it all. I enjoy the ending well enough as I think it does wrap up the story nicely, and for me Sarazanmai is a tad bit better than Ikuhara’s previous YuriKuma. I will give this show a rewatch once the year ends to see if the story holds up by then, and this is a kind of show that requires multiple viewings (and reading, too), but as far as this first watch goes I’d safely say that Sarazanmai once again proves Ikuhara as one of the most original anime directors in our lifetime. Full review will come shortly.
Target acquired, lock, engage. Joining my brothers in arms, it’s your girl, Armitage! :D
Hey, everyone!! After days of brawling and bloodshed, I have finally emerged as a joint victor of the Battle Royale for the coveted position of ‘New Blogger’. I am grateful to the brave fallen and look forward to making acquaintance with the living, here at Star-Crossed Fleet.
I am in my final year at Uni but I have decided to instead follow my passion for stories. I will be pursuing my dream to be a novelist, you see. Ever since I was a little child, I have loved fictional characters and the incredible lives they lead. And anime was one of the first mediums to make me feel that way. Hence, I have decided to give blogging a shot.
Some of my favorites include: Hunter x Hunter 2011, Honey & Clover, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and 3-gatsu no Lion. I look forward to talking about seasonal anime and more with you all and vow to fight to death, defending my shit taste over yours! :P
The kind bloggers of this site have graciously allowed me to join their ranks. A bit about me – I’m a 30 year old Happa who is gainfully employed as a programmer/manager/pointy haired boss/whatever (you’re here for anime, not a resume). As discord embarrassingly revealed to the other writers, I currently play League of Legends, though I was sufficiently addicted to WoW in the past (afl lock, yessir).
My anime instincts tend to wander towards shonen, with good characterization and world building as musts. I’ve been watching anime now for about 15 years (I tend to be anime only with resorting to manga when there is no hope for future seasons *sniff*). The show that got me hooked was Hikaru no Go, and I haven’t looked back since.
A picture’s worth a thousand words, so here’s a small banner for some of my top personal picks.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy my thoughts and if not…flame me until I get better! (+1 for everyone who can name all anime shown in the banner…+2 if you caught the previous pun).
Welcome all to what is, for me, a very conflicted episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba. Filled with fantastic animation, some well thought out fights and a character is loathe no matter how great his scenes look. Let’s dive in!
Starting off, Yaiba looked great this week. I don’t think that’s really up for contention. I have a good deal off issues with the episode, but they are all related to 2 characters in particular. Everything though was just awesome. From Zenitu’s whole lightning sequence to the rotating rooms and 3D environments. Could you tell it was CGI and that Tanjiro wasn’t really hitting the walls as cleanly as 2D animation? Yes. Was it still fantastic to see him roll around the screen with the changing environment? Seeing this well lit set spin around, all on model, as the camera sweeps through following our lead? You know it! Pessimists would point out every little thing, or whine about Ufotable’s overreliance on filters. Me? I am just gonna enjoy some well directed action scenes as Ufotable constantly tries something new in every shot. Sadly, this episode wasn’t all perfect animation fun.
Zenitsu was, once again, my biggest issue with the episode. His incredibly annoying, persistent whining, aside I find the basis for his fighting style annoying. It takes the “cowardly lion” approach to a whole new level. Where he can’t even fight for himself, but instead falls asleep from… fear? And then fights like that? It’s just sort of a buzzkill. Don’t get me wrong, it looked fantastic, and I really wanna see more of his style. It stands out and really grabs your attention. But then it ends, and Zenitsu wakes up, and suddenly all of the badassness is lost to a bumbling idiot that doesn’t even know he can fight. Attributing the slaying of a demon to a helpless child. Zenitsu isn’t the only character to suffer from this either, with the 2nd probably posse member suffering from something very similar.
That posse member being the as of yet unnamed Boar Head. He is the opposite side of the same annoying coin. Taking a shtick, a stereotype, and taking it to extreme levels. It’s all but guaranteed that either Tanjiro will defeat him, or save him, thus compelling him to follow our lead around constantly challenging him. That he is always screaming and never shuts up about it either is what makes him similarly annoying to Zenitsu. So far, both are one-note stereotypes. Sure, they are cool, I like their designs. Boar Head being self taught, introducing another kind of combat to the story is fun. But so far, what little they add isn’t worth sitting through their on-screen personalities. My only hope is that, once we exit this introductory arc, both are toned down a bit and given more nuance. Because if not, this will be a long 2nd cour.
Still, Yaiba didn’t butcher everyone’s character this week, as Tanjiro is still going strong. Prioritizing the protection of the kids, and thinking his way through the fights. And oh the fight, I love what is going on with Kyogai the demon. I said before that the animation was fun, with the entire room rotating with the beats of the drums. But narratively, I loved how Tanjiro is thinking it through. Analyzing the drums, figuring out which drum does what and how to handle it. Yaiba even called back to his broken bones, finally acknowledging that previous fights results. Sure, we know he will win, but in a Shounen its always about the “how”. “How” awesome is the fight, “how” clever are the tactics, etc etc. Yaiba clearly knows this, setting up demons like Kyogai with tactical powers instead of pure combat powers.
Speaking of Kyogai, as much as I enjoy his power, I am conflicted with him. On one hand, he used to be a moon! A weaker, lower one sure, but a Moon nonetheless. He got kicked out for not being strong enough, and now here he is. He also gives us more information on Muzan and how his Twelve Demon Moon’s organization actually functions. All of this is nice! However, I have to ask, is every demon connected to Muzan? It sure seems like it. Yeah, he is the big bad, we do need to see more and more of him. Conflict needs to get driven with him for a satisfying finale in 12 weeks. It just makes one wonder is all, if he controls everyone and is connected to everything, why the Demon Hunters haven’t done anything about it. I assume they have tried. Hopefully we get to see.
The last things I want to talk about are all minor gripes. For instance, how did the crow get into the house? Was he just in Tanjiro’s shirt the whole time? It just confused me when I first saw the bird randomly appear. The bigger gripe I have though has got to be the chibi/childish animations. Don’t get me wrong, I like it throughout the story. Nezuko is cute and with Yaiba’s designs I think it makes for a fun time. There is nothing inherently wrong with it. My issue though comes when it is over used in what is supposed to be a serious moment. Naturally, this mostly ties back into Zenitsu and my issues with him. Being the gag comic relief of the series. If Yaiba can fix Zenitsu, then this problem should fix itself. But we will have to wait and see.
So all in all, how was this episode of Yaiba? Pretty good, with only moments of “Why?”. The series has a strong grasp of its powers/combat. Making even annoying characters like Zenitsu a treat when they actually fight. What is holding the series back the most right now are the new side characters and its humor. Just like Yujiro from the last arc, Yaiba’s humor is to take a singular joke and beat us over the head with it. Screaming “Do you get it? How about now?”. It’s maybe funny once or twice, in specific circumstances, but eventually it gets tiring. We knew Yujiro for all of 3 episodes and I still got tired of him. Imagine how I will feel about Zenitsu in 3 months. If Yaiba can just fix this fixation on extreme comedy, I think it will be a treat. Currently though, its just annoying.
Welcome to another episode of Acid Trip Weekly, also known as, Serial Experiments Lain! This week is one of the most confusing, yet simultaneously coherent episodes of anime I have ever watched. It’s impossible to summarize, so let’s just dive in.
Starting off, like I said, this episode was an acid trip, both visually and narratively. From the crazy colors and sequences, to crazy metaphorical representation for ideas/situations. In particular I loved the fiery explosion of Lain when she was just done with everything. Now, I started the episode having only the faintest idea what was going on. One could argue I ended the episode not much better, but personally, I at least feel more informed. Some of it no doubt went over my head. However I think Lain did a very good job of getting the core of the episode across. The specifics of rumors, acknowledging your true self and anonymity on the internet were clearly shown. Both through visuals and dialogue. To show this, let’s move on to the actual story and take a look at some of these moments.
Starting off, let’s talk about Wired Lain, and how she is fighting back/asserting herself over Real Lain. At first, to me this was a commentary on how people act on the internet. How anonymity can affect a person’s behavior. You see it all the time on forums and in games, the toxic behavior that comes with no one really knowing who you are. No real life consequences. however this idea got challenged the further the episode went along, as Wired Lain’s actions were clearly visible to the larger world. They had consequences, and so didn’t make sense from that perspective. Unless of course Lain was trying to show how destructive these actions are, or how this aspect of a person’s personality is still there. Regardless, it was interesting, and the rest of the episode was only more so.
Throughout the episode we see Wired Lain drive Real Lain more and more into a corner. Until eventually Real Lain elects to fight back, in a burning explosion of emotion. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting Lain to actually manage to delete the Wired version of her. Both proving her greater power as a veritable God in the Wired, but also her willingness to do so. What I loved the most about it though were the consequences. How deleting herself from people’s memories, which destroyed Wired Lain, split herself once more. What I am curious about here though is whether or not she did destroy Wired Lain. If this split Lain is a new one, the same one, or once again an extension of herself. All of this being some weird metaphor for accepting yourself.
What leads me down this road is this belief around what happened when Lain deleted herself. I believe that in deleting herself from those memories, no one knows the “real” Lain anymore. Perhaps not even herself. She has effectively done in real life what people do on the internet. Exposing only parts of her personality to people, explaining the split/second Lain. That represents the idealized Lain, the one she left in all their memories. The one without any flaws or issues, as she purged all the bad stuff she didn’t like. However just because she removed that from their memories, doesn’t mean that those aspects aren’t still a part of her. It was a very unexpected and, in my opinion, brilliant setup for the whole thing. None of it was spelt out, but I intuitively understood what was happening.
The last thing I want to mention though is Lain’s family, and her confrontation of them. It was pretty crazy, I never expected her to actually ask them. But then for them to just blankly stare, almost like they were looking through her? Resigned? It really drives home last episodes comments on it, how they aren’t really her parents anymore. Either they are no longer there, like Mika, or they simply don’t care to act anymore. Personally, I am leaning towards the second, as they seem still in possession of their faculties. Not gibbering away like Mika. But they took that one moment of confrontation to stare at Lain, to let her know she isn’t welcome seemingly. Combine that with her deteriorating friend-group and it appears Lain is losing all of her connections to the real world.
So all in all, how was this episode of Lain? Confusing, interesting, disturbing, all of the above? I want to rate it as my favorite episode yet, simply because of how much information was put across with so little difficulty. Combine that with some of the stunningly animated scenes and it stands out as a highlight of the season. Resolving and introducing a whole new conflict that still ties in to the original conflict. I will admit to some difficulty putting my feelings on the series into words, because of how mad its subject is. But I assure you I am enjoying the series. Much more than Paranoia Agent, which I felt flagged in the middle and didn’t have the same level of consistency. Because of all this, I can’t wait till next week. I might just watch it now and write the post up in advance, really…
Welcome one and all to a rather surprising week of One Punch Man Season 2! This week the animation was mostly fine, and interesting things happened, so let’s just jump right in!
Starting off, I rail against the series a lot, but credit where it’s due. The sections of the Garou fight done by Aoki look pretty slick. This man is carrying OPM on his back at this point it seems. As he is responsible for basically every well animated shot of the season. From Tank Top Master to pretty much every Garou shot, Aoki is our guy. He seemingly has fun with it all as well. The thick black lines, fun angle and dynamic camera make it much more of a treat than anything else seen in this episode. Just look at other cuts of the fight to see that for yourself, or Darkshines… shininess? Neither were particularly great, but for this series, they were on the upper end. I just hope that the 2 big finale fights coming up soon are given the same treatment.
Once again a short post, as OPM really speaks for itself I feel. Outside of Garou, there isn’t much to like. Saitama’s segments with King were fine, if blandly delivered. It’s a bit sad when a video game fight has better animation than some of your legitimate ones to. Darkshine also just came off a bit weird, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for being concerned about his design. He is made to be a caricature, every S-Class hero is. From the Samurai all the way to Genos. I don’t believe ONE intended to be offensive, and rather just wanted to portray the japanese stereotype for a black man. Regardless, having followed this manga for awhile, it doesn’t bother me much. All of the S-Class heroes get some development later on, but not in this season. Hell, maybe not in any season with how this one is shaping up.
Suffice to say, while the episode was decent, the series as a whole is still woefully disappointing in almost every department. Maybe Aoki can save the ending. I wouldn’t hold my breath.