July 31, 2015

The Battle of Italica

  In the last episode of GATE our heroes were sent on a short mission to reconnoiter and hopefully open trading relations with the  town of Italica, a heavily fortified crossroads town at the juncture of two caravan routes and a river. Also in the last episode  Princess Penã of "the empire" who has been sent with her order of knights to do a reconnaissance of the invaders (our heroes) offhandedly mentioned that she intended to stop off in the town of Italica.


In this episode, things went to worms just as expected. 
But they did so in a way that was rather unexpected. 



This remains an exceedingly smart show. We get a little bit of background on the princess, who is, it turns out, is quite interesting.


Oh..as an aside...In case there was any doubt...



Roary Mercury serves the DARK god Emloy.


 Itami doesn't know what cards he has in his deck...which is a much better situation than having an empty deck. GATE remains a really intelligent and entertaining show, with this episode in particular maintaining a remarkably high tension level throughout and left me quite upset that I have to wait 167 hours to see more of this. 

That is a sign of quality programing. 

UPDATE: Over at Steven's place Avatar has a well thought out comment on Princess Pinã's motivations and rationale behind her (and Lt. Itami's) tactical decisions towards the end. 

Also: Yes. Her full name does appear to be Pinã Col Ada. We will speak no more of this particular matter. 

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FIELD TRIP!

The latest episode of School Live is mostly a series of flashbacks, apparently to the events that led to Miki joining the School Live Club. It appears that SCL is going on a field trip. The club's first official, school sanctioned field trip is going to be to...a local mall.

Baby...steps. 

One amusing bit was the fact that the other girls (who are not particularly sanguine about the endeavor) have Yuki fill out all the proper paperwork and send her through the slow bureaucratic grind of getting the field trip approved in the hopes of killing the project. To their astonishment and chagrin the "field trip" is approved with unusual alacrity by their club sponsor who expedites the process, having decided, in her somewhat daft way, that there are actually very good reasons for the club members (who are normally forbidden to leave the school) to go on this outing. None of this explains why they did not tie up Yuki and leave her in the school to avoid potential inevitable embarrassment. 

After arranging transportation...



...they are off!

This remains a very interesting show though there are a couple of things that strain credulity. Our erstwhile main character, should probably not be taken on field trips for one thing.  They did this in the second episode as well, "Cute Girls Go to Library on First Floor of School". 

This is also the second episode in a row that has involved an extensive flashback to the improbable chain of events that led to the club being founded, albeit from a different person's perspective (Miki's). The events happening in the background of both these episodes are particularly effective in setting the mood.  I do wonder if we are going to see any further exploration of the events that took place last week in "Cute Girls Deal With Power Failure". Next week seems to be a continuation of this one. 

This is a REALLY neat show and If you are not already watching it I strongly urge you to do so. However, I implore you to watch it from episode 1.

If this doesn't look like your cup of tea, then this is probably the show for you!


For a CGDCT series this is full of all SORTS of surprises, so I ask that everyone avail themselves of spoiler tags which can be typed in the comments as follows...

I'll start:





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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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