July 28, 2015

HAH!

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July 25, 2015

DRAT...



...DRAT! 
A THOUSAND TIMES DRAT!
Those weren't accessorized ears.
It was just a damned HAT!




From episode 4 of GATE!, which,  in a completely unexpected development, manages to work in an onsen scene. This, however, is not one of THOSE shows as this remarkably non-gratuitous interlude makes clear. This brief scene moved the plot forward in a number of ways, provided significant character development and remained Comics Code Compliant throughout. The above scene of Leili (left) and Mercury (Right) washing the orphan's hair is as risque as it got. 


After the events of last episode, 2nd Lt Itami took his recon force and the refugees back to the main Japanese base much to the dismay of his immediate superiors who are appalled that he has brought all these orphans for them to take care of. The general in charge of the operation however, is impressed both with Itami's initiative and humanity and puts our hero's unit in charge of getting the refugees situated.  


...and our hero in charge of filling out the requisite paperwork tsunami.

The aforementioned bathouse scene is actually part of a montage of the refugees (and Mercury who is examining the Japanese of her own volition) reacting to such wonders as backhoes, prefab housing, field kitchens, and canned food....



Along the way, we do learn that Leili has a knack for languages. She can speak Elvish and is picking up Japanese very quickly...rather more quickly than the Japanese are picking up the local tongue. She is exceedingly smart as befits a mage and we learn a little about her past. It seems Leili grew up amongst nomads before she arrived in the imperial village, so this is not her first experience with a huge technological and cultural shock. 


 Or learning to use new kit.

Chika, the Elf, is still traumatized by the recent loss of her entire town, which, even amongst the elves was a somewhat insular tribe with an obscure dialect.  She is in mourning for her father and seems to be taking double rations to make offerings to his memory. Having lost everything she owns she is also concerned that she and the other female refugees will be forced to sell themselves in order to repay the kindness they have received...or, barring that, simply to survive in the world.

Meanwhile, Itami is tasked with taking his unit to reconnoiter a nearby town called Italica, but that won't happen 'till next week. 

No action to speak of, and our heroes didn't go anywhere, but this episode moved the story forward quite a bit.

This remains a very entertaining and intelligent show. it is just full of win right now, you should definitely be watching it. 


UPDATE: There is an extensive discussion of this episode regarding combat engineering over at Chizumatic.

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July 20, 2015

Gatchaman Crowds :INSIGHT

Gatchaman Crowds was a strange but enjoyable series from two years ago. Perky quirky and completely unpredictable, it ended up being well above average through sheer charm and cleverness. The show closed with a definite hook for a sequel, and this summer, that much anticipated sequel is here!






Gatchaman Crowds: INSIGHT continues the franchises habit of surprising its audience by producing a perfunctory painting by numbers pastiche of periphrastic prattle.

Actually of all those "P" words the most applicable one is probably likely perfunctory.

We are introduced to two new characters one of which seems to be an audience surrogate (there was nothing like that before as the cast was just so....odd)

It is possible that this jumbled mess is going to coalesce into something entertaining, but this was such a muddled, talky episode that confidence is not high. The pilot just gave the impression of trying to emulate the series by being weird...but to no purpose other than to fill a time slot. There are actually two more episodes available, but I'm going to take a break for now.

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July 18, 2015

Occassionally, There is a Reward for Clean Living

For example...in the latest episode of GATE, our heroes do not die at this point.



"Wait...did you say GOOD?"

You see, the Elegant Gothic Lolita (Catgirl?) is" Roary Mercury, Apostle to the Dark god Emloy" which apparently means that she is some sort of priestess. What is certain is that she is a person with considerable ability that is at this point indistinguishable from magic.


Not pictured: Just HOW ridiculously large her elegant gothic choppy thing is. 

When we first meet her she confronts several dozen brigands who she proceeds to slice, dice and circumcise. It is quite obvious by the end of the episode that she could have killed Itami and his entire command without breaking a sweat. Indeed, that was probably her initial intent, but to her surprise, she discovers that this small detachment of the interlopers who have curb-stomped every army sent to destroy them have not been raping, looting and pillaging, but rather have been rendering aid to commoners without regard to ethnicity and that they are in possession of carts that move without horses.

Nor is Mercury the only character possessed of unusual ability. Leili, the blue haired young lady is an apprentice to the fellow in the wizard hat, who is named Kato, and is, shockingly enough, a Wizard. 


The Force is STRONG with her.

The JGSDF unit has taken a detour from reconnoitering to help evacuate a village that is being menaced by the dragon that they saw razing the town in the last episode. In this episode we learn that there was but one survivor of that unfortunate town, an elven woman who speaks elvish. While this is not, upon reflection, surprising, it should be noted that the extemporized phrase books they are using don't contain any elvish. 


This is unfortunate as the young lady has very useful information to share.

This is an intelligent, well thought out show, and despite the abattoir aspect of the last episode, it is proving to be both suspenseful and upbeat

 Lt. Itami is is a genuinely likable hero. Having been a brevet commission he has a greater hurdle than most to earn his troops confidence, especially since his hobbies are known and held in low regard by his medic and senior NCO. Nevertheless he proves quite capable as a leader and demonstrates considerable decency complimenting his tactical verve.  

This episode was fast paced, introducing several new intriguing characters and was quite thoroughly satisfying .


Certainly not the darkest and grittiest of entourages. 

The cast members introduced in this episode add a nice bit of wackiness and whimsy. Despite much potential for stupidity and squalor the show remains quite smart and engaging. This is a very impressive show thus far, my biggest complaint at the moment is that the next episode is a week away.

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July 15, 2015

Gracious!



I have no idea....

Fortunately, it appears that Don does, is on this, and is doing his bit!

Whether this is a good cause is a matter of debate concerning discussions of ethics as applied to phantasmagoric matters beyond the scope of this post. 

However, there is little dispute that Don's melodies are easy on the ears.  


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July 12, 2015

Proof That Civilization is in A Declining Phase

Vast sums of money were spent getting top notch animators and talent to bring a sumptuously produced adaptation of a comic book to television. "Wait."You may ask. "Why is this unusual?"

Because the comic book is Monster Musume, and....well, if you're alone and not at work...look...

There were rumors that this was going to have very short episodes and that gave me some hope that this was actually going to be along the lines of the long discontinued web comic as opposed to the manga. That is not the case. This is a full length series and is faithful to the manga almost line for line. 

The first episode though, is very similar in tone to the webcomic that always revolved around some monstrous mythological abomination and her boyfriend trying to deal with the various complications their relationships entailed. In this case said monstergirl is Milia, an approximately 20 foot long Lamia (snake girl) who is perfectly charming...


...if somewhat grabby...

... and is part of a cultural exchange program between Japan and various fantastical Fortean races that have recently come out of hiding.  Due to a clerical error she is placed with a student living alone. The two of them hit it off quite well, which is a complication because of some asinine anti-miscegenation clause associated with the program.

This pilot episode is in its own weird way, both cute and charming. It is NOT safe for work or the kids as the show is surprisingly brazen regards nudity.

The big problem moving forward is that this is very faithful to the manga, which quite soon became a harem comedy, and that rather destroys the charm of these two trying to overcome the many societal, logistical and mechanical obstacles they face in their romance. A review of the manga that sacred honor forced me to do can be found here

If this is your cup of tea, then you are in luck, because this is a top of the line production which is beautifully produced, has excellent voice talent and a soundtrack by Manzo and Hiroaki Tsutsumi. The flip side to this is that people whose job it is to know these things believed there to be a large enough market for softcore monstergirl porn that this high end project got greenlit. We are surely in the end times.

This was a well produced and enjoyable episode, but I'm unlikely to follow this show closely. I'm even less likely to admit to to doing so. 

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Gate

A portal opens in downtown Tokyo, next to a comic book convention. Out of the void pour what appears to be Roman legionnaires, preceded by orc shock troops, and backed up by knights riding fire breathing dragons. 


In the ensuing chaos, hundreds if not thousands of civilians die before the JSDF can deal with the situation, which they do handily as dragons are not bullet proof. 

In the aftermath of this bizarre fiasco, the Japanese send a reconnaissance in force to reconnoiter the other side of the gate. Among them is our hero who has just been given a field commission for his valor during the initial incursion.  


Despite its derivative premise and a certain lack of tension for our heroes in the battles, the first two episodes of this yarn are showing considerable promise.

There is a LOT of neat stuff going on and thus far it has been handled quite intelligently. I'm cautiously optimistic that this is going to continue to be good, mitigating against this is the fact that the promo art hints at a harem show, the portrayal of some of the Americans and . Nevertheless, this is surprisingly interesting two episodes in and I'm looking forward to more. 

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School-Live!

This one was a genuine surprise.

Tonight, at a friend's place it was strongly suggested that I watch this.
To my initial dismay, School Live! is a slice of life show that, despite an engaging and generally interesting cast, seems at least in the pilot, to be focused on what appears to be the most annoying character in the history of ever. 


I leave you, gentle reader, to guess which one.


Nevertheless, under duress, I ended up watching ALL of this moe' mess.

Tomorrow, on MY computer, where I will have control of the freeze-frame button, I will simply have to watch the whole thing again.

Despite (or perhaps, because of) my initial dislike for the shows more cloying elements, I am tentatively recommending it. In stark contrast to its initial impressions, it displays considerable depth. School-Live! does take a while to get going, but the show becomes...quirky and thoughtful in a completely unexpected way, as it explores the dichotomy between its character's carefree whimsy and the realities they face trying to cope with their rather demanding and stressful high school environment. 

I say tentatively only because I'm skeptical that they are going to be able to sustain this heteroclite yarn, but I am eager to find out if they can. This first episode was actually kind of brilliant and it is for now most unreservedly added to my watch list.

On the off chance that anyone reading this blog has watched the show, I do have a question.



UPDATE: I just got home and, unhindered by Blackberry blogging, added the picture, a link and slightly reworded two sentences for obscurity. 

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July 06, 2015

Little Witch Academia 2



Well, that was awesome!
Of course that was to be expected.
Among the things that were not expected: 
Digikerot getting quite prominent screen credit and the running Dresden Codak reference.  

The film premiers in Japanese theaters in October.

A note based on personal experience to those of you who were also part of the Kickstarter, CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! 

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June 29, 2015

Reply Hazy, Try Again

That is the answer to the following burning question: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

You see, they never actually addressed the ethics of the matter. Indeed no picking up of girls takes place in the dungeon (unless one counts physically picking up injured girls to get them to safety).

I'm going to have to go back and watch the whole thing again.

To my considerable astonishment though, the answer to the more relevant question "Was the show any good?" is "Yes. Definitely!"

As expected from the ending of the last episode, the finale is one huge fight.This could have been tedious, but the episode is crammed with an extraordinary amount of world building,  character development and genuine surprises. 

This was a remarkably satisfying ending to a show that has been way more enjoyable than it had any right to be. 



Towards the end of the episode the god Hermes, who has been sort of hanging around for the last two episodes, acting suspiciously, climbs a tree and gives a rather exuberant soliloquy which leads me to believe two things...


1: A sequel may be in the works.
2: This is not actually a harem show, or at least only secondarily so.


more...

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June 27, 2015

This Time For Sure

Last week's out of the park finale was NOT the end of Fate Stay Night. Tonight's episode was.

In stark contrast to the white knuckles action of the climax, this epilogue is a mostly quiet affair which takes place a few years later in England. Flashbacks that serve to wrap up loose ends are woven into the story which involves Rin and Shirou taking a day off, contemplating what they've been through and how what they learned during their ordeal will impact their decisions for their future. 



Aside from from one momentary digression it's pretty much sublime. 

 

I'm kind of surprised that they did this. The episode was in some ways completely unnecessary, but it provided a very nice (if slightly bittersweet) denouement for what has been a superb (if occasionally quite dark) show. 


 

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June 21, 2015

Oh...One of THOSE Episodes I See



Actually...No.

In the latest episode of IIW2T2PUGIAD there was a brief bath scene but they didn't sell any blue rays with it. The episode was mostly character exposition and shopping. Also: stupid criminals and a fight...then something else happened but I have no idea what....it looks exciting though.

This is not high art by any means but it remains an interesting show in spite of itself. The heroines are all particularly well deve ...well realized and the portrayal of the gods is, despite all the anachronisms, actually faithful in tone to the classical myths. 

I've enjoyed it so far, though it remains to be seen how they wrap it up. 

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June 20, 2015

Fate Stay Night Ends (Updated)



Well, Rin there pretty much sums it up.



The writing, the production values and the characterizations of this show remained above par for all of the 25 episodes, and the pacing was exemplary for 23 and a half . Even that brief pacing glitch worked in retrospect as it was conveying a somewhat surreal plot point.  

Rin was awesome but underutilized in the first series, but in this one she truly shines as one of the best SFF heroines in recent years, smart, gutsy and principled. Shiro, the male lead from the previous series, lacks much of the plot armor and 'designated hero' perks he enjoyed in that show, and is a much better character for it. 
Fate Stay Night added to its many good points, a particularly rare quality; a satisfying ending (which was doubly so for those who saw the first series). 

UPDATE: Wait. What?

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June 13, 2015

Edith Hamilton LIED to Me!

For one thing, she gave a completely inaccurate and quite possibly actionable description of Hephaestus. 




From episode 2 of Is it OK to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon?. I did not expect to be following this, but, despite some harem overtones (and undertones...and sidetones), is a surprisingly clever and eminently enjoyable yarn thus far. 

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June 10, 2015

Wait...I Have a Question

Said inquiry is not about what may be the most annoying version of Bad Apple ever, but the video here, IS there actually a licensed Touhou series?



Or is all of that video fan made?

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