Peco, from "Ping Pong, the animation", with his game face on.

Peco, from “Ping Pong, the animation”, with his game face on.

Ping Pong is the show I have been enjoying the most this season. One of the first things people notice are the unusual visual style, so I thought I would address that in a post.

Probably the first thing people notice is that some of the character designs are intentionally “ugly”, or that at times (well, frequently), the character designs morph in some way. I like the fact that Ping Pong character designs intentionally avoid the standard anime designs. Instead we are presented with a startling variety of characters: some with bushy eyebrows, some with faces so deeply wrinkled that you can barely identify the mouth, some with eyes that are tilted so far that they almost become vertical. Everyone’s appearance is horrific in a way, and has an eerie beauty in some other, and that works perfectly with the character studies that are developed throughout the series. Characters are shown from a variety of perspectives. Some views of the characters are unflattering, some are flattering. Nobody is shown completely to be good, or virtuous, just as even the characters that seem at first to be villains are shown to have nobility in unexpected ways. People are alternately selfish and selfless, lazy and ambitious, belligerent and respectful.

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The first episodes of the new anime viewing season are being aired over the next couple of weeks, so it is time for a site update. As I mentioned in my preview, I have just a couple of shows I’m interested in this season, with Ping Pong: the animation foremost amongst them. I also revealed that I am building an anime-blogging robot, named Alpha, to assist me with the reviews here at the Abandoned Factory, which means I will be able to pick up a couple more shows.

The final list for Spring 2014:

Title Premiering Blogger
Kindaichi R April 5 Alpha
No Game No Life April 9 Alpha
Escha to Logy April 10 Alpha
Insufficient Direction April 10 Joojoobees
Ping Pong April 10 Joojoobees
Mekaku City Actors April 12 Alpha

I added Mekaku City Actors, and No Game No Life, because I thought they would be good shows for Alpha to watch. Mekaku City Actors is a Shaft production, and No Game No Life is Madhouse, so despite the fact that I don’t think I could stand to sit through the subject matter, they might be interesting shows visually. Insufficient Direction is a late add; I just think the premise (living with Hideako Anno) is a funny one.

Shows listed as being covered by me (Joojoobees) will actually be covered by both of us.

I probably will post sporadically, and Alpha’s reviews will begin later in the season, since she is still under development, but is intended to provide context, not episodic impressions. That being said, I’ll probably post something as soon as I have it, as part of my process of bringing her perception and analytic faculties online.

Happy anime viewing everybody!

** Update April 6: moved Insufficient Direction to April 10, which seems to be the Tokyo premiere; I think the earlier date was a premiere station that has early access to certain shows.

Alpha from Yokohama Shopping Trip

Alpha from Yokohama Shopping Trip

As I enter another year of anime blogging here at the Abandoned Factory, I’m sure y’all are starting to wonder why I don’t have my very own robot to blog anime reviews for me. We have a lot to go over.

Contents:

  • Motivation: can adjacency be removed from anime blogging without replacing it with Subjectivism?
  • Alpha
  • An Initial Plan for the Work Ahead
  • Conclusion

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TL;DR :  “Go see what Cara said.”

For the most part the Spring 2014 Anime season seems to be samey-sameness, with one important exception.

Ping Pong: the animation

Ping Pong: the animation

Ping Pong: the animation

This one looks really interesting! Masaki Yuasa is back in the Noitamina slot. All the visuals so far really stand out. Should be a good watch.

Honorable Mentions

Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~

Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~

Atelier Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~

I have written before about the Atelier franchise. I liked the emphasis on Alchemy, there were some interesting mechanics in the title I played, and it had some good art and music. Given that, I will be checking this anime adaptation out, but with some trepidation. They seemed to have played up the bishoujo elements, instead of some of the more interesting aspects. One of the most interesting aspects of this title is the very weird pun: the Japanese pronounce & (“and”) as toe (long O), so the characters names with an ampersand in it is pronounced as the word Eschatology, which is a sub discipline of Theology concerned with the End Days (with questions like What is Heaven? What is Hell? What happens after death? How will the world end?)

Kindaichi Case Files Returns

I have previously written about an earlier anime adaption of Young Kindaichi’s Case Files. The should be an actual mystery genre title. The mysteries in the previous series that I watched (I also saw a series of anime movies about Kindaichi) were fairly detailed and developed as actual mysteries (as opposed to masquerading as mysteries, but really being an action show, or something else). The author of the manga also did another mystery genre series that I enjoyed: Detective Academy Q. The problem with the author, as I see it, is that the characterization is very weak. I wrote about this before, too. Basically my view is that this could be a well-plotted Mystery series, but the characters are likely to be little more than one-dimensional.

Conclusion

I may seem dismissive in blowing off 9/10ths of the anime coming out this upcoming season, but three new shows to watch is actually not that bad. I still have some catching up to do from previous seasons, and #ESO Elder Scrolls Online will be launching April 4, 2014, so I’ll need to reserve time for that.

Enjoy the Spring, everybody!

Space Dandy stakes his claim.

Space Dandy stakes his claim.

The first episode of Space Dandy turned out to be mostly silliness. As I said in my season preview, this show just doesn’t look like it is going to have the heft that you might expect from Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop).

“X Jigen e Youkoso” by Etsuko Yakushimaru

Meanwhile the Ending theme, sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru was actually quite pleasant, although not as attention-grabbing as her work on, say Mawaru PenguinDrum.

fox

The Winter 2014 anime season begins.

January means it is time for another preview post, although I am not genuinely excited about the anime series this season is offering. (Maybe I am overly obsessed with the thought of Elder Scrolls Online coming out on 4/4/14; by contrast nothing in the new season seems as epic and engrossing).

Hamatora

Take, for example, Hamatora. On paper it sounds pretty good: people with psychic powers investigating a serial murder who is hunting their kind. The preview, however, just didn’t work for me. It looks more like a bishounen show than an action or a mystery.

Wizard Barristers

Every time I start watching a preview for this show, I think, “hey, this looks pretty good!” The action looks exciting. There are older characters. The idea of “Wizard Barristers” is intriguing. Then, about half-way through the protagonist gets introduced and I think, “No. No. No. There is no way I am going to be able to put up with this series series.” I’ll probably check it out anyways. Then hate myself for it.

Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha

This is the RomCom that looks the most interesting of the season. A girl falls for some guy and gets the power to shapehift by saving a fox. I like shows about supernatural beings at temples. Unfortunately the artwork seems a bit lackluster. Still worth a shot.

Houzuki no Reitetsu

Speaking of supernatural beings, the most promising comedy seems to be about the everyday life of a demon.

Space Dandy

Normally I would be immensely excited for a show by Shinichiro Watanabe. I certainly will be checking it out, but the trailer (and premise) has me thinking it is going to be too campy to hold my interest.

Why you so dissatisfied, dog?

I think it is a fair question for someone to ask me why, with all the shows I just mentioned, I’m just not feeling it this season. I just don’t feel like there is anything substantial this season. I read about some old favorites over on Metanorn last month, as people were writing up their Secret Santa posts, and it just left me thinking, when was the last time we had something really substantial, like Serei no Moribito? My top three favorite series are Haibane Renmei, Twelve Kingdoms, and the Crest/Banner of the Stars series. I don’t expect every show to be that great, but series like Dennou Coil have deep world-building, unique characters, mystery, action, comedy, and innovative art styles. I just don’t see anything from this season reaching that level (although I would be happy to be proven wrong).

Anyways

Enjoy 2014 (and get ready ‘cuz Elder Scrolls Online is coming)

Mirai Kuriyama, the cursed spirit world warrior.

Mirai Kuriyama, the cursed spirit world warrior.

Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) turned out to be a fun watch, that was emotionally engaging at times, and had some very good artwork. I suppose there are several types of questions people might have about this show, depending upon their background.

For those who know close to nothing about the show, I imagine they would be looking for basic information like, “What can I expect from this show?” It’s a Fantasy-Action Anime from a top-tier production company (Kyoto Animation). It looks great, has some plot twists and exciting developments, but it isn’t go-to material for someone looking for tight plots, with no loose ends, or realism, or philosophy.

Those who saw that it is listed as having Significant Objectionable Content on Anime News Network might be wondering, “What’s up with that?” Personally I think that is ridiculous. It has a lot of fantasy violence, including a character that can control her blood (and usually shapes it as a sword, as in the screen cap above), but it is so fantastical that, despite the blood, it is a bit tough to think of it as gory. It also has frequent references to perversions, including a sister complex and a fetish for girls who wear glasses, but this has to be one of the tamest depictions of perversion in anime in years, compared to the amount of ecchi that is standard in just about any mainstream series out there.

Some knowledgable anime fans might be wondering, “Can KyoAni make a Fantasy-Action series, without loading it up with moe?” I think the answer we received was an emphatic NO. The series looks great. I am glad that Kyoto Animation, which has immense talent for animation, worked on a real Fantasy-Action series. But I, let’s face it, this show was loaded with moe tropes. If you can handle that, it is a fun watch, but isn’t going to change a lot of minds about KyoAni.

Finally, there could be a few individuals who watched the series who wonder what I thought about this or that. I personally didn’t feel the show was weighty enough to invest a lot of time in speculating about the many loose threads left dangling. “Would you buy it? Do you think it would be worth buying a set on, say DVD, to have available for a rewatch, or to loan out?” Hmmm…. If I had to choose between buying KnK or buying Hyouka (another series by Kyoto Animation), I would certainly buy Hyouka. “Okay, but would you rather re-watch KnK, or Endless Eight?” Heh, you got me there. I’ll would probably buy Kyoukai no Kanata before I buying the second season of Haruhi no Suzumiya.

Final Thoughts

I did have fun watching Kyoukai no Kanata. It is a bit mindless, but it is a beautiful spectacle.