December 30, 2011
I haven’t posted anything about Mawaru Penguin Drum in a while, so some might have wondered if I dropped it. No. I have been eagerly watching each week, but found myself perennially at a loss for words.
Normally, especially for a series that I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed this one, this post would be my “Final Thoughts”. I would be summing up what I thought about it, and telling you why I think you should watch it, or at least who might enjoy it the most. But with Mawaru Penguin Drum, I am by no means ready to express “Final” thoughts. I strongly feel the desire to go back and watch the series over from the beginning. In fact this, I think is key to understanding the experience of watching Mawaru Penguin Drum.
Tamayura ~hitotose~ is the sort of show that is more about impact than plot, so I’ll just give my final impression quickly. Mix up a bit of cute, a bit of funny, a bit of beautiful, and a whole lot of heart-warming, and you are bound to come up with something like Tamayura ~hitotose~. This “healing” anime by the master of the genre, Junichi Sato, is a window into life in a an idyllic seaside village. The main characters, a group of four girls, are witnesses to both heartache and small wonders. They gradually grow to understand each other and themselves a little better. If this sounds like it can be sickeningly sweet, it can at times, but it also manages to hit just the right tone often enough to make the watch a special experience.
December 26, 2011
I haven’t been posting much about Cardfight Vanguard lately. They actually had an interesting arc in which Aichi lost control of himself and became a bit of a monster. I enjoyed that because it was quite a shake-up from the earlier episodes, both in terms of Aichi’s character, and the general tone and focus of the series. With episode 50 that arc seems to have come to a close. I believe the next part will be the National championship.
What really spurred me to write this entry, however, was the release of the English version of the Cardfight decks. There is now an English language Vanguard website, and I recommend checking it out if you are confused about how the game works, as they have straightforward explanations of the mechanics, and many of the cards you see on the show are completely described. At the moment there are two starter packs available, one based on Aichi’s Royal Paladin deck, and one based on Kai’s Kagero clan deck. There is also one booster pack that has a variety of clans represented. I found looking over the battle pack very revealing. For example I discovered that Battle Sister Chocolate is in the Oracle Think Tank clan, and there are at least two other “Battle Sisters”, Mocha and Cocoa, even though Chocolate seems to be the only Battle Sister that gets used in the anime. I guess it is because Misaki is the only one who regularly plays with an Oracle Think Tank deck.
December 22, 2011
This is a brief spoiler-free review of Un-go, a Noitamina show from Fall 2011. Un-go is a short series (12 episodes, including an unaired “Episode 0″ that was shown in theaters) produced by Bones. Before the series aired it was commonly believed to be in the Mystery genre, as it was “inspired by” various stories written about a Meiji-era detective by Ango Sakaguchi, who died at age 48 in 1955. But Un-Go is NOT a Mystery series. Un-Go is an excellent example of a genre called Speculative Fiction, that came to the forefront as the New Wave of Science Fiction, during the 1960s.
December 21, 2011
In all honesty, the up-coming Winter 2012 season hasn’t grabbed my attention. Typically by now I would be looking forward to some show, and this post would be about those few shows that really caught my eye. I usually link to other bloggers who do a fine job of providing the comprehensive picture. You can check out the following guides that will provide synopses and possibly trailers for just about every new show of the season:
- Hanners provides his usual round-up with succinct comments on each new series.
- Psgels organizes the shows by his own subjective “potential” rating, and points out the positives and the negatives.
- Sapphire Pyro has a less comprehensive view, but she reads a lot of manga, so her opinions on a show’s potential are quite useful.
- Caraniel takes the comprehensive route, but doesn’t mince words when sharing her point of view.
There are probably a lot of other worthy season previews that have already come out, or will shortly. Sadly, regardless of which one I read, I can’t shake the feeling that this season doesn’t have an awesome show that I am ready to commit to on the spot. Nevertheless I present three shows after the jump that just might be worth watching.
December 20, 2011
Episode 12 was a nice little interlude on the way to the National Championship at Omi Jingu. It showed the team looking forward to the Nationals, while those around them were mostly indifferent to their success. In particular how Chihaya’s family reacted, and the mini plot with the Empress, were nicely handled. Plus Kana-chan had an adorable moment. With all of that, the episode still managed to bring us literally to the steps of the Omi Jingu shrine.
December 14, 2011
Chihayafuru is the show that keeps delivering flawless episode after flawless episode. In Episode 11, our protagonists are up against their toughest challenge yet, a team that habitually wins the Tokyo Regionals, and has a good shot at the National title. And, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, we see the return of Arata Wataya!
December 12, 2011
Episode 10 is not only another good episode of Hyouge Mono, it is also a critically important one, full of character study, and significant events. In other words, reading this review will expose you to spoilers. This episode concerns itself with the events surrounding Lord Nobunaga Oda’s death in Kyoto, 1582. This was an event of extraordinary importance in the real world, so the details are well known to Japanese students. Hyouge Mono manages to alter the events, in many significant ways, all while making it plausible that our received history could have become the official version. In other words Hyouge Mono doesn’t depict an alternate history, but a secret history.
In addition this episode includes the most BAD ASS tea ceremony ever, a really interesting take on Bushido ethics, and in particular a complex study of Sasuke Furuta.