October 24, 2022

Be Careful Not to cut Yourself on That Edge

I have never had Netflix, and I was not inclined to give that company any of my money. However, my cellphone recently saved my live, preventing me from being impaled with an 80 pound steel bar...and in the process sent me down the rabbit hole of cell phone replacement via insurance. After activating Narmaya, my brand new Samsung Galaxy A42...I noted that it had a Netflix trial on it. I decided to check out that new Cyberpunk series that's currently streaming. I looked forward to a good laugh at the expense of the 'Netflix Adaptation'. 



Now I've given Netflix $19.95 US of my monies...but I got to watch the whole series.

I do not regret this purchase. 

Cyberpunk Edgerunners is excellent. Studio Trigger stood by their guns and took no nonsense from Netflix and provided Unadulterated Cuberpunkery. For fans of the recent CD Project Red video game, or Mike Pondsmith's old pencil and Paper RPG from 30 years ago, this is a breath of fresh air. This show is extremely respectful of and faithful to its source materials canon. As such, it is a pretty good representative of the genre.

That is to say, it is Dystopic as hell. It's also an astonishingly bloody show that does not flinch away from the genre's more gruesome implications. Edgerunners is also quite possibly the most non-PC thing made in the last few years, at times straddling the line between an "R" rating and "NC17" with regards to both gore and nudity and is a passionate middle finger at the censorious scolds of all stripes.

It's also, in its perverse way, a Shounen show, but one that is really well done.

This is not an upbeat or happy show, but it follows desperate, broken people who maintain a sense of dignity and honor in spite of being in the most Hobbesian of environments. It also features excellent writing and top notch voice work in the English dub.

Studio Trigger has a remarkable reputation as is, but they have outdone themselves with this one.

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July 03, 2022

The Mechanical Man

Last night, besides the gachiest gacha game that ever gachad' and a successful grind session in FF14, the stream presented to our 8 viewers a 1921 Italian techno-thriller. 



Only about 26 minutes of this ~80 minute film still exists, and the title cards of the only English version I've found are not particularly helpful. 


In fairness, most of what's missing is merely context to the story. The footage we saw last night eschews such boring world building to get down to the important business of screwball chases, cosplay follies, and robot rampages. 

So, for the 8 non-robotic viewers that my stream summary says watched the film, here is an overview of of what seems to have been going on, cobbled together from a discussion in film class 10 years ago, Wikipedia, the very sparse English subtitles in the version we watched, and the infinitesimal amount of information I was able to glean via my very atrophied 2 years of Latin from the more extensive Portuguese subtitles.  

Spoilers Follow:

This was an interesting and remarkably forward looking film in a lot of ways.  

The basic set up is that a city in post WW1 Italy is being beset by rising crime and a string of political assassinations. Meanwhile one Professor D'Ara, a scientist/engineer, has become the talk of Italy by inventing what is essentially an anthropomorphic, remote controlled drone, to which he gives the perfectly straightforward name of Mechanical Man. The device is fantastically durable, being built like a light tank and possesses speed comparable to an automobile. It is hoped that it can be used in mining and dangerous heavy industrial jobs.




A gang of criminals led by a remarkably competent and brazen woman(for a '20s film) named Mado attempts to steal the device but they are thwarted and it is put under close guard. Mado's gang proceeds to kidnap and tourture Dr. D'Ara in an attempt to get the robot blueprints from him. The police, led by a famous detective do locate and overwhelm the mob, arresting most of the leadership including Mado who is badly burned and suffers a heart attack during the raid. D'Ara did not break but the police discover he died from the gangs tender ministrations. 

Mado turns out to be as dangerous and creative as The Joker, from Batman. It turns out that she faked her heart attack and her burn. Using her  feigned coma to lull the hospital workers into complacency, she sets fire to the hospital, murdering numerous patients in the process, frames Saltarello (Dr. Dara's brother) for arson and murder,  swaps a murdered nurse for her body (faking her own death) and escapes Scott free to reunite with the remains of her gang. (This is where the limited surviving footage mostly picks up...with the villain's clever arson and Joker-esqe escape from the hospital)

She the kidnaps Dr. Dara's daughter and forces her to give her the location of the robot blueprints. The detective Ramberti, who arrested Mado suspects that she is not dead but is unable to do anything until he finds Dr. Dara's daughter who has been free'd by The late professor's brother who is on the run from police, having been framed for arson and mass murder. (Whew!) 

Meanwhile a series of smash and grab robberies are taking place that generally involve safe's being stolen wholesale or armored cars being broken into. Also a series of murders, with the victims being pulverized transpire over the next few weeks. There is one group of witnesses, a rich socialite reports that a mechanical man tore into her house and stole her jewelry safe while she and her friends were far enough away to not be noticed.

Mado has built her own mechanical man.

Allow a moment of silence for the chap that took refuge in the dresser.

Saltarello meanwhile is still on the run from police and trying to clear his name and avenge his brother. He has a close encounter with the mechanical man as the latter assassinates a politician. 



He takes refuge at a costume ball, where, for reasons not entirely clear, he suspects something bad is about to go down. The ball, has apparently been a big looming "thing" for most of the movie, is being attended by a veritable "Who's Who" of Italian Politics, Industry, and old money. He has to flee, but not before he dresses up as Napoleon. 

Meanwhile, Mado sics her Mechanical Man on Detective Ramberti and a number of witnesses including the late Dr. Dara's daughter and Dara's engineering assistant . They flee but discover that not only is the Mechanical Man bullet proof, but it can break through walls and iron gates. It also has cutting torches in its fingers that make short work of the iron door they attempt to slow it down with. They escape in a car, but the mechanical man almost overhauls the car until Terminator1921 suffers a short circuit and crashes by the side of the road in flames. 


This chase is silly, but surprisingly good.


Ramberti and his party then run into a bunch of bicycle cops with his car, (literally) and he subsequently tries to get help to recover the infernal device.

Meanwhile Mado is able to get a team together to recover the Mechanical Man before Ramberti gets to it. 

 Saltarello escapes the costume ball, dressed as...uh...Napoleon or something, steals a police motorcycle, and is pursued and confronted by another detective (who is in an 18th century...dress, because he was undercover at the costume ball). The detective explains that Saltarello is no longer under suspicion for murder/arson/jaywalking. 

The public is completely unaware of ANY of this so, a few hours later when some cosplayer shows up at the costume ball dressed as the famous 9 foot tall mechanical man, the person is awarded best in show and becomes the toast of all the movers and shakers of Italy, sitting down with them and not saying anything. 


"This is not at all sus. Not one bit."

This lasts until, well, he gets right up close to all the most important people in the social register and reveals that his costume...isn't...and begins crushing them, throwing them off balconies, and generally being impervious to bullets. 

MEANWHILE: Dr Dara's assistant, who has been trying to get the ORIGINAL mechanical man working again succeeds in getting the wireless remote control to work. He then sends the ORIGINAL Mechanical Man out to fight Mado's Mechanical Man. They engage in a robot slap-fight in the ballroom, destroying it in a most satisfactory manner as they wack away at each other. 


Botfight. BOTFIGHT!

Saltarello arrives at Mado's headquarters to find her frantically manipulating the wall sized control panel during the fight which she is observing via a television screen. 


(BTW, in 1921 Television won't be invented for 7 more years)

He starts to sneak up on the most dangerous lady in Italy but decides to throw random switches in the hopes of throwing off her control. As a result the control panel shorts out. Mado is electrocuted and dies. The Ersatz mechanical man goes berzerk but is subdued by the original and explodes. 

Mado is revealed to be a famous rich socialite with connections in politics and industry (explaining how she had access to the physical plant needed to make a Mechanical man in mere days). She also is the person responsible for having the big costume ball that gathered all the assassinate-able people in one place. The second detective, no longer in his dress, thanks everyone including  Saltarello who is still dressed like Napoleon. 

Later, Saltarello, in a normal suit, says his goodbyes to everyone and gets in a plane and flies off into the sunset.

*******************

Years ago I was told by a film student, when the discovery of this film caused the topic to come up, that this was one of a series of "great detective" films that was popular in Italy at that time, and that the detective character in this film is a star of numerous other films around the same time. That is, this would be equivalent to Sherlock Holmes meets The Terminator. I don't know if that is true, the detective is a central but supporting character in the extant footage, but I'll put it out there. If there is a "franchise character" in this it's seems more likely to be Salterello, though I can't find any references to such a thing.

There are probably several details that I've got wrong. If anybody speaks Portugese, then please correct me in the comments.  

*******************

I was chuffed when I heard that the remnants of this historic film now had English subtitles, but as we discovered during the stream, they were so laconic as to not be particularly helpful. When they are compared to the very lengthy Portuguese subtitles, it's obvious the 'restorers' did not hire a translator. 

My onstream commentary was based on my knowledge of the film from reputation, and the little bit of research I'd done, fully expecting that "English Subtitles" meant something. 

On the other hand, the DMCA-Free Electro-Swing BGM that I paired with the film on stream was a surprisingly good fit. 

In any event, this was an enjoyable watch, being a completely whackaloon little film that had all of its buildup and exposition destroyed allowing one to get right into the important business of fire, explosion, murders, and the first Robot Battle in cinematic history. So I'm calling it a win. 


Screenshots for this post are not by me but were knicked from the film's IMDb entry and Tumbler's SciFi .gifs page.

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June 24, 2022

Streamery Alert

Tonight at or before 9:00PM EDT / 01:00AM UTC my internet alter-ego will be streaming over at twitch.tv/brickmuppet

(We may be a tad earlier as there are a few widgets I want to test.)
We'll ultimately be streaming Final Fantasy 14 again, but first there will be a brief 'just-chatting' segment and maybe a short silent film. We'll be going at least three hours so if you're hunkered down, stop by and say "Hi!". 

As always, any Feedback on audio levels or video streaming quality are greatly appreciated. 


Art by AnimeGum. Support him on Patreon!

 

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June 20, 2022

Streamery Alert

Tonight my internet alter ego will be streaming again this evening from 18:00PMDST / 10:00PM UTC for about two hours. Plan is to be playing Final Fantasy 14.


Come on by, point and laugh knowingly at the silly noob who's gotten himself completely lost in Eorzean and is developing a shellfish allergy....


Art by Anime Gum. Support him on Patreon!

Note: After I get a handle on handle on how best to fit streaming into my schedule, which should be by next week, I'll have a schedule up every week a week in advance. 

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June 19, 2022

We. Be. Streamin'.

Tonight my internet alter ego will be streaming from 18:00PMDST / 10:00PM UTC for about two hours. 


I streamed it last night and I'm trying to pin down a lag issue that is present in the stream and VOD but not my computer, so feel free to come by and laugh at the silly streamer who is hopelessly lost in Eorzean, and has developed fungiphobia. 



Also: feedback regarding AV levels is appreciated. 

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June 11, 2022

7 hours to Go

Still having tech issues which I ascribe to Apple operating systems and architectures, but I'm confident that I'll either have fixes or my current work arounds by 21:00 EDT / 01:00 GMT/UTC. 



We'll be streaming for a few hours (two or three at least) so feel free to stop by, point and laugh. 

UPDATE: It worked! The game wouldn't run right but we showed the 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and then did a Just Chatting stream.  There were a few glitches with OBS but they didn't derail the stream, and they were worked around in a few seconds.
 Over 2 and a half hours, we topped out at 6 people in chat, at least two of whom were not 'bots!  
Thanks for stopping by Avatar-ExADV! 

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June 03, 2022

A Follow-Up on SNR

About 2 weeks ago I reviewed the pilot of Strange New Worlds and made, what is for post JJ Abrams Star Trek, a bold assertion.


I do not immediately despise this show!

Like Charlie Brown pondering Lucy and the football, I held out hope that  this fairly decent pilot might, against all odds foreshadow a good series. 

I do not have CBS all access, so I cannot speak firsthand to wether this forlorn hope has come to pass. However Dave Cullen, a certified card carrying member of the 'Irish New Trek Haters Club' suggests that the series has not been bad, and, most surprisingly,  that the most recent episode has actually been quite good.



This is high praise coming from Cullen, who has been exceptionally vociferous (and IMHO fair) in his criticisms of the recent offerings of the franchise.

I particularly like that the presence of the Gorn in this prequel, far from being the expected crime against canon is being cleverly handled in such a way as to fit with established lore. 

I'm still not likely to get CBS All Access, but I keep hearing good things about the show and might well be persuaded to get the DVDs. 

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May 22, 2022

Strange New Worlds

The new Star Trek series has premiered.


After the middle fingers to the fans that were Star Treks Picard and Discovery, faith is weak. 

Nevertheless, the pilot episode was run on YouTube last week and, being a trekkie of some 40 years, I watched it.

I do NOT immediately despise this show.

It looks good. The pilot was decently written and it felt in many ways like a decent Next Generation episode. There was a lot of extraneous drama and plot contrivances shoehorned into the pilot but the episode did not actually suffer for it. 

For those familiar with Trek lore the Pilot is a first contact story that deals with the origins of "General Order One". The episode takes place immediately after the finale of Star Trek: Discovery and is still cleaning up the mess that show left.  Enterprise is getting repaired and Captain Pike is on sabbatical. He's contemplating a vision of his future he received towards the end of STD, which he was given so that the misandric, feminist writers of that atrocity could have the sadistic satisfaction of having a strong male lead scream like a 9 year old girl dropped into a pit of tarantulas. Suffice it to say that plot point left a mark. However, notwithstanding the legit trauma itself, Pike's concern's about the matter are quite professional and rational.

Meanwhile, Number One receives information that a warp signature has been detected from a quarantined system a few hours flight time from Earth.  Starfleet is still trying to put itself back together after the events of the previous series, and doesn't have any first contact teams in the core of the Federation at the moment (They stay on the frontier).  Eager to give her crew a First Contact Award, Number one asks for and gets permission to take a few off duty Enterprise Crew on a mothballed, but barely functional Hermes class scout to pop into the newly star-fairing system and say "Hi!".

Things do not  go as planned, and what should have been an easy day away from the shipyard on fun collateral duty becomes an interstellar incident with far reaching influences upon subsequent events.

It was not a GREAT episode, but it was a quite solid one. It actually has something useful to say about bureaucratic overreaction, which is not a lesson I expected from a Star Trek show in current year. 

The pilot has been pulled from YouTube, but there are several trailers, this one giving a good overview of the cast, which I rather like a lot.




Well, except for La'an, who's surname looks to be a crime against canon and who appears to be a parody of a Mary Sue in a Star Trek fanfic. OTOH, if you're gonna do a Mary Sue, this is the place to do it and the actress  (who looks to be quite good) seems to lean into it with considerable gusto. 

Aside that the cast looks GREAT and, unlike Discovery, the (possible) Mary Sue is not the lead, and to be fair, actually looks to have real potential, this being quite explicitly an ensemble cast. 

So I am cautiously optimistic.

On the other hand, I have memories of another pilot, not so long ago that looked to have quite a lot of potential. 

That optimism was misplaced. 

So a decent pilot is not going to get me to subscribe to CBS-All Access. 

I'll wait. 

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February 02, 2022

Miss Kuroitsu: From The Monster Development Department

Agastia Corporation, a large Japanese Zaibatsu, is involved in a great many moneymaking enterprises around the world, however like so many other Japanese corporations the primary focus of this particular conglomerate is world domination. 


That rather expensive enterprise is privileged and confidential information, and not openly discussed on shareholder reports or tax filings. The ACTUAL board of directors meets in the secret boardroom far underground. 


Not as answerable to shareholders as is supposed.

This has caused some considerable difficulties in internal logistics. However, The corporation now finds itself in an excellent position strategically as all of the competing corporations, ancient civilizations, ninja clans, and Alien outposts have been annihilated byJapan's current surfeit of prefectural masked heroes. 

If those can be dealt with, Agastia corporations strategic goals can be met, resulting in excellent 3rd quarter returns and bonuses for all. 

Miss Kuroitsu is the head of Monster Development and is responsible for providing the company with monsters to fight masked heroes. 



She must do her job despite the fact that her chief mad scientist is a bit of a procrastinator, budget woes are cutting into the financial resources at her disposal, departmental turf wars are undermining her authority, and HR seems to be a 5th column, either completely insane or actively working against the goals of the organization. 




I laughed out loud at this bizarre, but fun, show despite its apparently tiny budget. It has all sorts of potential. I'm really curious where this goes as there are so many ways it can become a complete dumpster fire, but for now it is holding together quite surprisingly well. 

Miss KUROITSU from the Monster Development Department is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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December 13, 2021

Dev Watched Santa Inc. So We Don't Have To.

Interestingly, (tragically) Dev watched the WHOLE thing.

This is a much more interesting and fair review of this dumpster fire than most. 


It also makes clear that this is an even bigger, and in some ways more disturbing fiasco than is widely reported.

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October 10, 2021

Oh Golly

It's not coming out 'till December. 

It'll only have 6 episodes.


Still....yay!

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October 09, 2021

Oh Wow.

I think I finally beat Pixy to the punch on one of these.


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August 01, 2021

Flag Planted


From the latest episode of My Hero Academia, which is, frankly, one of the best superhero shows ever.

Well, perhaps not, but damn this story is good, and going in directions I'd never imagined.

 

If you want to discuss it, spoiler tags are [ spoiler ] Spoiler goes here  [ /spoiler ] but with no spaces between brackets and text. 

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July 18, 2021

There Be Heroes in Fiction Still

Season five of My Hero Academia starts off really strong for two episodes....then slips in to a tournament arc that last for no less than10 episodes. For those of you unfamiliar with the tropes of Japanese young men's comics, tournament arcs are a carryover from Japanese sports comics where the protagonists  find themselves in some gladiatorial style duel that last multiple episodes during which the heroes tend to wax poetically about fighting, deliver snappy one liners and generally provide the audience with writing and character development akin to watching paint dry. This seems to be demanded by tradition and marketing and is particularly a signature of the IPs at Shounen Jump, which produces the MHA manga and anime. For example, Tite Kubo's quirky and enjoyable series Bleach went to hell in a handbasket after editors demanded he pad out the story with tournament arcs and marketable side characters after season/volume one.

However, this show has avoided a full fledged tournament arc since season two, and Kōhei Horikoshi used that one to develop the lore and establish characters and their limitations, so it was not just padding. This season's tournament at first blush seem drawn out with 10 episodes dedicated to three training matches in superhero school, but those 10 stories advanced the plot and characters a surprising bit....and at no point in the process did anyone ever say "And now the fight TRULY begins." so it was not a complete waste of time.

More importantly, this is not a 12 episode season, but appears to be full length...


....and with the de rigueur gladiatorial shenanigans out of the way, My Hero Academia is proving to be exceptionally good this season, with a story that  delivers surprises, both horrifying and heartwarming in rapid succession. It does this without subverting expectations for their own sake with cheap gotchas. This is a solid superhero story done straight and done right. 

One of the questions Horikoshi is asking in this series is "What does it mean to BE a hero?" and, well, heroism is a tough thing. This series is kind of deconstructing a very Japanese trope of boys comics where the motivation is to be the very best because..."BEST!" Being a hero really requires motivations beyond min-maxing one's stats and achievements. There are successful heroes in the typical Shounen mold, and there are lessons to be learned from them, but this series explores the role superheroes play in this society in surprising depth and it's clear that more is needed than just badassery. Nietzsche's admonition to not become the monster one fights, while not directly referenced, looms large here. While this story is VERY Japanese in tone (superheroes, are not vigilante's but licensed, bonded professionals) the story explores the implications and definition of heroism we haven't seen in the genre since Ditko was looking at the subject in earnest. 

For instance, there's a whole redemption arc going on now with one of the background heroes, who has achieved his life's goal, and find's it tastes like ashes. I was actually enjoying the season during the tournament cour, but the last three episodes have taken it to a whole new level.

American superhero books seem to be in a bit of a nadir at the moment, with a number of today's writer's mocking the whole concept via seemingly endless deconstructions. There are suggestions that the genre is played out , and this suggestion is not without merit as U.S. comics have been recycling storylines since at least the '80s. However, with My Hero Academia, Kōhei Horikoshi has shown that the genre can still be fresh and surprising, without sacrificing the idealism of the old works or descending into cynicism. 

The standard the show sets for superheroes, All Might, is a sort of combination Captain America and  Superman, idealistic, conscientious, and both morally and physically brave. The show's protagonist (Dekku) is striving hard to meet that goal and be worthy of the mantle he's been entrusted with. Moreover, this show's protagonists, even the very idealistic ones,  aren't a bunch of Dudley Do-Rights, they're smart, usually punching above their weight, and get by on their wits. 

My Hero Academia continues to opine on the importance of not loosing one's idealism, or courage, a reminder that has special significance today. 

Plus Ultra! 


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June 28, 2021

Video Games as Commentary on Modern Life

Here we have the premise of the game BEHOLDER...

 A totalitarian State controls every aspect of private and social life. Laws are oppressive. Surveillance is total. Privacy is dead. You are a State-installed manager of an apartment house. The State requires you to spy on your tenants, and report any illegal or subversive activity. However, you can also choose to keep the information to yourself, or use it to blackmail the residents, resulting in a multitude of choices and endings.

I cannot comment much on this game as I haven't played it, but I watched an hour or so of Mayoi Hitsuji playing it this evening and boy howdy, I don't wanna go to bed now 'cause  I'm gonna have nightmares. 

This is just more proof that people were very silly to get worked up about G.T.A. 

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May 26, 2021

A Pointless Question for my Readers

I don't follow Hololive closely, but i'm vaguely familiar with it. 


I guess I'm a Hololive casual. 


Has the shark been bitten by a radioactive cat? 'Cause  the last couple of days stuff of this nature...





...has been showing up rather a lot and I was wondering if it was just some freaky meme or some fan reaction to canon. 


Update:

OH.


I guess if one doesn't follow the streams and waits for the vids to be posted one can miss important developments and fail ones Weeb test. 

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May 16, 2021

Gas is Back

Almost all the gas stations now have fuel. There are no lines to speak of. 


"Yay!"

" I don't have gas." Will no longer be an acceptable excuse for work. Hopefully, things will be better staffed and less hellish than they were this past week.

I fully understand why the volume spiked with people stocking up on supplies via online orders, but I cannot for the life of me grok why THOUSANDS of people looked at a petroleum shortage and said "Now's the time to buy a petroleum powered generator!" 

My back still hurts. 

UPDATE:
Gas stations not ghast stations. There are no Ghasts in Southeastern Virginia. 
Fortunately. 

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I Did Not Realize How Prophetic This Show Was

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May 09, 2021

ODD TAXI

This is NOT a show that I would ordinarily have watched. From the promo material and character designs it would appear to be a show aimed at either little kids....or furries. 


However, Don over at Zoopraxiscope is a man of impeccable taste and he suggested it may be the best show of the season. I just watched episode one and it is certainly interesting. 


The show is indeed odd and much of the episode takes place in or very near a taxi so it already has truth in advertising going for it. 



Thus far it concerns a taxi driver in funny-animal-Tokyo. Oderoki, the fellow in the center of the bingo card above, is an anthropomorphic Walrus who drives a taxi and seems to be "on the spectrum" since he tries to make a mental conversational flow-chart with 5 or so options every time he sees somebody because he has no idea what will offend people. 

He is....blunt.  

This show has, even in subtitles, snappy and engaging dialog that seamlessly transitions between the anodyne and the...other side of this show, which sneaks up on one.


The art is unremarkable but it works and its soundtrack is absolutely superb. I'm not sure I'd buy the BGM but it complements the story very well and sets the tone in a way that few scores come close to.  

The cast of everymen and women are completely believable beyond the whole "anthro" thing and this show is astonishingly interesting. 

I'm definitely watching this one. 

Go visit Don. He's got all the necessary screencaps. 

Odd Taxi is fascinating actually and has fully grabbed me. 

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April 28, 2021

The Most Blatant Foreshadowing in the History of Isekai

Actually, that may not technically be true as I am not a fan of the Isekai genre in general, and can't speak authoritatively upon matters of the most stupidest anything,  but what Aizawa says about three minutes into last week's episode has got to at least be in the running.


We are, of cours,e talking about the show that is pithily named I've Been Killing Slimes For 300 Years And Maxed Out My Level and while I did not have high hopes for any great art to come out of this series, even those hopes were not met. 

This show is deeply stupid.
I laughed out loud multiple times.

This is not exploring great philosophical questions or great conundrums of the human existence, but two episodes did make me laugh like a loon three times in one day. And I needed that. 

Will continue to watch. 


Come for the stupidity. Stay for the omelets.
 

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