July 14, 2019

A Pretty Decent OP Cover

Original OP here.

As for the show itself, I found Rising of the Shield Hero to be quite good overall. Despite its grimdark opening and recurring cynicism, the show manages (somehow) to be enjoyable. 

It is both amusing and annoying that despite the rage directed at this series for its being "problematic toxic male wish fulfillment ", it is, if looked at rationally, almost the opposite of what it is being criticized for.

That is, the show is a pointed disquisition on the difference between being a bad-ass glory hound and being a gentleman. Nayofumi , despite his PTSD is the adult in the room. He consistently uses his wits to solve his problems and weighs the consequences of his actions. This is in stark contrast tho those whose messes he cleans up and whose fires he puts out. This is a nuanced but firm critique of the sort of thing that might be legitimately termed "toxic masculinity". However, as its being contrasted with virtuous masculinity it apparently doesn't count.

Raphtalia is a genuine heroine and in a sane world would be considered pretty damned empowering. For instance: She's not the shield bearer. He is. Nah, Redoubtable Raccoon Girl eventually becomes the sword wielder, monster ventilator and dispenser of ass-kicking. She has a genuine (and all too rare) 'journey of the heroine' arc where she comes from less than nothing to achieve true and completely earned greatness.
But she doesn't count because she suffered, overcame, learned and grew as opposed to being a Godlike Mary Sue with nothing to learn. 


  My biggest complaint is that the show doesn't so much end as come to a reasonably acceptable pause point (The story is based on a series of light moves and is not close to being finished). However, it still has a satisfying finale and over the course of 25 episodes the two main characters grow, change and develop in realistic and interesting ways. 

The series is not particularly well animated and the plot does suffer from occasional verbal tsunamis of exposition, which, in fairness, is consistent with the fact that our two main protagonists know nothing about the world they're in. Those criticisms, however, pale in comparison to the far above average character development and genuinely interesting story. 

I recommend this one highly and sincerely hope we see more of this show. 

UPDATE: Yes. Trying to bang out a post in 5 minutes at the library does not lend itself to quality. I think all the typozes have been fixed now. 

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June 11, 2019

What?

Umamusume appears to be a sports anime revolving around track and field.
And horse girls(?).
It looks cute. The first episode is exceptionally well animated  and...


That's it. I'm out.

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June 09, 2019

Heehee!


Jet Jaguar by Ueyama Michiro

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June 07, 2019

Yesterday's Future TODAY!

Way back in 1994 KSS released an OAV* series called MIGHTY SPACE MINERS. Because the world is suffering, it was cancelled after 2 episodes. I picked up a VHS** copy when it came out, largely because the character designs were, even in 1994 kind of retro looking. 

However, it impressed me at the time as a remarkably hard sci-fi kids show. Despite a few minor inaccuracies the shows "hardness" rating is arguably higher than even The Expanse. I particularly like that the hardscrabble  asteroid miners don't live in some nightmare man-camp like Outland, but in a very pleasant Stanford Torus built into their asteroid, and the fact that the kids space helmets are the equivalent to a modern day smartphone/personal assistant and pet...because in their culture, a child's earliest lesson is that one must never be without one's helmet. 

Because space will KILL YOU!
Dead.
They don't shy away from that. This show is like a Heinlein juvie. 

A DVD was eventually released but it's long out of print. Used copies can be purchased on Amazon for $103 US. I've been looking for this thing for years and was surprised to find it complete and dubbed on You Tube. The fact that it...ends... is really annoying, but, pig-headed kids show protagonist notwithstanding, it's a damned good 55 minutes until it leaves you hanging. 

 

 

We need to start a write-in campaign to get Jeff Bezos to buy this one and finish it, because this is a really good story. 


* Original Video Animation. Shows of odd length or of lower quality than films but higher quality than TV  were once released on tape or disc and rented or sold from "video stores". 

**Video Home System an audiovisual storage medium reminiscent of an audio cassette...wait...you've never heard of that either... OK, it's similar in principle to a DVD or Blue Ray or a gaming cartridge(?)... Um... Anyway it uses ferromagnetic material coating plastic tape as a data storage medium that is magnetically programmed and/or read as it is mechanically indexed via two spools in a manner similar to Egyptian scrolls....uh..you had to play the tape end to end to access the AV data and you'd get charged a fine if you didn't rewind them when you returned them to the video store...
Forget it. It was a different world.

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May 28, 2019

A Fish Out of Water Has Not so Much Escaped His Problems as Found New and More Challenging Ones

Rising of the Shield Hero is approaching its 21st episode and frankly deserves more than the laconic mentions this blog has given it thus far. It is a show that has generated quite a bit of "talk" because its story tends to go down the less traveled paths of its genre.


As opposed to the above path, which they all go down.

This is a isekai show, a genre that generally involves a social outcast getting yanked/summoned/reincarnated/teleported/excreted into another world which just happens to have remarkable similarities to a video game, role playing game, or light novel series that the introverted, maladroit audience insert had obsessed with to the detriment of their standing in polite society. With a few exceptions, these shows generally have the protagonist come to an insight along the lines of , "All those years of playing D&D have prepared me for this very moment!". This epiphany is usually followed by 13 to 26 episodes of geek wish fulfillment as all the important people (and especially the attractive members of the opposite sex) in the new world learn to respect, adore or fear (but NEVER ignore) this now most consequential of human beings who has been groomed by years of geekery and avoidance of obligations to be the hero the world needs and wants to have children with.



Aaaand then there is Iwatani Naofumi,  a reasonably well adjusted graduate student who has some geeky habits among his hobbies. However, he's not a hard core gamer, and most significantly for his well being hasn't played a particular multiplayer game about 4 legendary heroes.  When he notices an anomalous leather-bound parchment-paged antique-looking book among the light novels in the library, he opens it and gets bamfed into a summoning circle with 3 other Japanese men of about his age Each of them has attached to them a weapon, Spear, Sword, Bow....and OK Naofumi has not a weapon but a shield.


"Cool! we're a sentai team!"

They are surrounded by a bunch of wizards and priest types who provide exposition.


I'll bet there is.

They are told that they are the 4 legendary heroes who have been summoned from other worlds to deal with "The Wave", a demonic incursion into this high fantasy D&D type world.
Some years prior, (I think about a decade, its not entirely clear) the four legendary heroes of that age were summoned and successfully kept this monster spewing phenomenon at bay, though over half the population of the world is believed to have died. Once these things start, they come about once a month and each one is exponentially stronger than the last. The first wave, was barely defeated (with heavy losses) by the kingdom's regular forces and some adventurers a few days prior to this summoning.

Now the other three fellows are all expert players in an online video-game that is essentially identical to this world.  Nayofumi has no idea what he's doing, furthermore in a brief cram session with the other three, he learns that while shield characters are marginally harder to kill in the game, they are basically useless as they can't use weapons and can't easily level up. The shield is almost never played except by children.

Still our hero understands the basics of video game RPGs, is reasonably genre savvy, and, after all, has been summoned to a magical realm to do hero stuff, so he's handling this reasonably well.



The four are granted an audience before the king, who asks something along the lines of "Why did you waste spell points on summoning a shield guy?"


Well, that bodes ill.

It's then explained to our heroes that they must go on adventures to level up and hone their skills. They are all basically level 0 and the next wave is arriving in a month. Also, it is noted they need to train separately from one another because...



...reasons. 

They are expected to have retinues and all the local adventurers are allowed to join up with the 'Legendary Herotm' of their choice. This is especially important for the shield hero as he can't wield weapons, and the shield has no offensive capabilities until the wielder is at a much higher level.


The heartbreak of cooties.

No one picks Naofumi, because shield heroes are like the nerds of Middle Earth and well no one wants to be associated with him.



There are a few things that Nayofumi's shield will do that allow him to slowly level up, mostly involving crafting healing potions. However, he is physically unable to even touch a weapon. In order to level up he must quest and gather ingredients, and if attacked, he can only bash things with the shield. Furthermore, crafting and deflecting blows give very little in the way of "experience points". Even slaying a relatively harmless beast like a carnivorous pumpkin (don't ask) grants a vast improvement in the speed he can level up. So he's in the pumpkin bashing business.

No one will help openly help him,  few will even do business with him. The only exceptions to this are people who pose as being interested in joining his party, only to attempt to murder and rob him.

After a series of reversals that would try the sanity of anyone, Nayofumi, on his last legs and desperate, bumps into a very sketchy and incongruously dressed merchant.



And that is the point at which things get problematic.


more...

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May 21, 2019

DANGER! The Levels of "PROBLEMATIC" are Over 9000!

So, this Rising of the Shield Hero show; I've started watching it.



Well, I'm leaning towards "good" but that's going to depend what happens in the next few episodes.


Also: Raccoons are awesome.


So far it is a very hard show to watch, but it has really impressed me.

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March 17, 2019

Because Why Should Pixy Have All the Fun?

Give it about 22 seconds. They have cleaned it up.



The channel with the actual remaster has been taken down, leaving only this comparison vid...

I first saw this in 1989 or 90. I understand it was done with a Commodore and a Betamax and was one of the very first AMVs.

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January 06, 2019

This is Getting Kind of Scary

"Yes Comrades, your IP addresses have been logged and your incorrect opinions have been noted."  




Of course I suppose it's possible that the BBC might have run a private screening for the critics and due, perhaps, to a software glitch, accidentally broadcast a blooper reel instead of the episode the critics saw.

I can't help but think though that a blooper reel would have gotten a higher core.

I haven't seen the episode but that dichotomy is, frankly, disturbing.

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January 04, 2019

QUICK! Everybody Watch This Before the Lawyers Take it Down!

It's not, strictly speaking, "good" or even coherent, but it is kind of awesome. 

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January 01, 2019

On the Effects of Theatrical Film Releases Upon Market Volatility

 December, 2018 saw the stock markets enter a stage of extreme volatility, with multi day crashes followed by all time record gains. Several factors have been proposed as sources of these swings, including the President's tariffs  and actions taken by the Federal Reserve. However the introduction of these factors does not strongly correlate with the timing of the market fluctuations. 


I propose that this fiduciary phenomenon is in fact caused by the synergetic effects set in motion by an event that has been heretofore ignored by financial analysts.  

Spider-Man (Into the Spider-Verse) entered general theatrical release on December 14th, shortly before the market entered its volatile phase.

This film kicked ass. It kicked so much ass that I propose that the resulting national ass shortage led to chaos in ass futures causing a general breakdown of commodities trading which in turn led to ripple effects throughout the larger stock market.


"..." "..." "..." "..." "..." "..."


What?

Economics aside, this is a bizarre but immensely  enjoyable film that pulls together a bunch of odd, little explored threads from the Marvel Universe(s) to tell a tale of "passing the baton"; one that manages to very respectful of the Marvel canon and did not spit on the fans. 

With that alone they exceeded expectations, but the the creators of this film did not stop there. This film is...good. It's really good and is one of the better comic book films ever made. 

Once the story gets going, the film keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and the villains...the comic book villains...manage to come off as genuinely terrifying. 

The film is very true to the original medium, due in part, to a quirky, experimental art and animation style that shifts throughout the film as needed by the story. This eclectic artistic choice is, on occasion, distracting, but it generally works astoundingly well. 

The direction, pacing and characterizations are all solid , however, one thing that really stood out in this animated film was the quality of the acting.

Now one expects good voice acting in a feature length film**. However, there is a difference between stage acting, screen acting and VOICE acting, and animated films in the U.S. generally get big name actors who give perfectly solid performances but don't fully utilize the medium. 

The voice work in this movie really stands out as exceptional. The delivery at times is like a '40s screwball comedy or a Howard Hawks film and they pull this off without sounding stilted or dated. Kathryn Hahn, Hailee Stienfield and Liev Schreiber give particularly good performances but the whole cast was exceptional in that regard. I was particularly shocked to learn that Chris Pine can act.

The whole film is littered with little easter eggs that don't distract from the story, but are delightful treats to the audience members who grew up reading these books. In that vein, this last Stan Lee cameo appeared to be one of his best, though I was beset by allergies at that point. 

All in all, this was a remarkably good film. It's still in general release so I  strongly urge you to go see it before it leaves theaters. 

Do sit through the credits. 


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

  *All. Of. The. Canon.
** In its original language.

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December 31, 2018

RWBY Season 6

After the dumpster fire that was the end of last season, RWBY's latest 8 episodes have been something of a shock.


A pleasant one.

Each of these episodes has had more plot and character development than the last half of last season, and most have had more action too. The fight choreography has risen in quality exponentially to levels that would make Monty proud and the show has managed to make the monsters scary again, with some episodes very effectively conveying a sense of existential  dread.

Even the most recent episode, where a bunch of characters desperately run around in circles not killing or breaking anything because someone forgot to leave a note, managed to advance the story while developing characters...


...and torturing them. 

I've been quite impressed with the season, but I'm now on my guard. The halfway point is where the last season went off the rails, crawled into its own navel and imploded, so this could all go to worms.

On the other hand, this season went "off the rails" in episode one and has doing great things ever since, so I remain hopeful. 

I certainly will be watching it.

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Zombieland Saga Ends (?)

Well, it looks like Zombieland Saga finally started running low on local places of interest....




...however the whackadoodle story sort of deepened towards the end and the show provided a quite satisfying ending that was not nearly as predictable as I'd thought it would be.

A couple of threads were left hanging, some of which are tossed aside in such a way as to suggest a sequel...


Which is almost an odd enough premise to work.

This was a 6 hour long idol show that doubled as a commercial for the Saga Chamber of Commerce. By all rights, given its purpose and premise, Zombieland Saga should have been a painting by numbers mess, and yet it ended up being a quirky little gem of a show.   Rewatch value is not particularly high, but if you were put off by the whole zombie thing in the promotions, or just missed it, I strongly suggest you give it a shot.


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December 15, 2018

Well, My First Post After Coming Back Was a Bummer....

Here's something that's both seasonal and more pleasant.


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December 08, 2018

In the Terminal Phase of Late Stage Education

The content drought will continue until both final drafts are polished and I get sleep.


However, this looks to be potentially consequential and needs to be shared.


Note that if the video begins to smoke you should back up to a safe distance and if you are pregnant, elderly or have eaten in the last two hours you might not want to watch it repeatedly. Also, it appears that there are copyright issues, so it may be good to not talk about it too much...especially at work.

Other than that it looks quite promising.

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November 10, 2018

Crunchyroll...What is UP With the Subtitles?



From Rascal Doesn't Dream of Bunnygirl Senpai which, despite this nonrepresentative frame is still gorgeously drawn and really, really well written.  

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October 31, 2018

It's Over

 I took refuge on campus and thus avoided the ravenous hoards of tiny but insatiable mouths.


 Anyway, here is a wolfgirl cosplaying as a witch.


Appropriational art by Lansane

UPDATE: J. Greely discusses these matters rather more thoroughly here

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October 28, 2018

Palate Cleanser

A few weeks ago we looked at the official video of this K-Pop song. Well it's a hit, so there are now the inevitable MMD videos. Well, instead of just downloading the rotoscoping into MMD, some circle named DD Animations seems to have taken the same bog-standard MMD motion capture file and plugged it into Yandere Simulator.


 
But then they got creative with the editing.


This is really well done. 
The only issue with this is the troubling fact that there actually isYandere Simulator.

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October 25, 2018

First 2 Minutes


The last season of RWBY looking promising enough that the inevitable betrayal could sting quite a bit.

Just two days to go.

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October 22, 2018

And Then, As I Stood Before the Refrigerator

It dawned upon me.

Don't they cremate people in Japan?

In related news, I watched the first three episodes of Zombieland Saga again.


Regarding some of the concerns brought up by cxt217 in the comments of the earlier post:

The agent/human beatbox/cosmetologist is actually a character trope of sports manga and to an extent idol shows as well.  He's rather over the top, but not by as much as one might think given the genres involved.

Regarding concerns about Hoshikawa,  

I wonder if, in addition to everything else the show is, this counts as Isekai?

Shipstorm  

Please use spoiler tags.

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October 21, 2018

ZombieLand Saga

I suddenly find myself at a loss for words. 

I read the blurb. But what the blurb describes...that's not what I watched.



From the Blurb...

A typical morning. The usual music. Their normal lives. The peace these seven girls experience will suddenly be destroyed. By the living dead... zombies. A reality that they never wanted a part of, an amazing and terrifying zombie world. They all share one wish: "We want to live." These girls will struggle through this saga, in order to achieve a miracle. MAPPA, Avex Pictures, and Cygames team up to bring you a juicy, 100% original anime. A timeless shocker for all audiences, a brand new style of zombie anime, will soon rise.

Now ignore the blurb. 

Completely.

Just go watch Zombie Land Saga posthaste.

No. I mean NOW!

Trust me.

This is the show to beat this season.

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