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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Figure: Alpha looks at another anime, Wasimo.

Figure: Alpha looks at another anime, Wasimo.

This is an article in an ongoing series in which the Abandoned Factory gets a new blogger: an aniblogging robot named Alpha!

I am closing in on a finished version of the Percieve portion of the problem (see last post). The two figures below were generated by Alpha while she was watching anime. Her actual percepts are also included, so people can see where things currently stand. I haven’t really started on the Analyze part of the problem yet, but you can already see by comparing the raw percepts that were generated from Masaki Yuasa’s latest masterpiece, Ping Pong, to a Flash-based anime, Wasimo.

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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.

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!