February 24, 2020

GranBlue Fantasy The Animation (Series 1)

Granblue Fantasy  aired in 2017 and I did not really pursue it at the time.
Well, I  noted that the show features many elements that can be considered to be warning signs in media, much like brightly colored coral  is underwater....such as...

*It's based on a video game.
*Nay, a GACHA game actually.
*It's set in a sort of steampunk Middle Earth.
*The initial set up appears to be a series of bromides, bound together with cliche's served on a bed of tropes.
*This thing exists, and talks...

Vyrn is completely off model with the rest of the show. Even the other cute animals don't look like this.

...and that's where I initially stopped watching, because with all the other warning signs this just did not seem promising.

However, there is a sequel series out now, and, given the slim pickings of this season I decided, to check it out and to that end, I decided to give the old series another shot.

I'm glad I did.

Meet Lieutenant Katalina Alize. Until a few hours ago a highly skilled and decorated soldier of  of the Erste Empire who was (until a few hours ago) in charge of security for an undisclosed research project. This involved undisclosed badness being perpetrated on Penny Plot Device Lyria (the young girl in the background). We join our statuesque heroine in the process of rescuing Lyria from her own troops, on a flying battleship. In the process of this unorthodox personnel transfer, Lt. Alize demonstrates that she's not a diversity hire, but rather an example of authority being derived from asskicking ability. Katalina is an accomplished spellblade who makes short work of her former shipmates until a particularly smarmy example of effete' aristocracy unleashes a magical weapon upon the young lady she's trying to rescue, precipitating an explosion, that results in Lyria falling from the ship, into the forest of a floating sky island near...

Gran, who, as we are introduced to him, is chopping wood in full plate armor, not because they have only one Gran model, but because he's a little fanatical about his swordsmanship training. Upon seeing the Battleship fly overhead, suffer an explosion, and drop what they took to be flaming debris in the forest, Gran and the off-model pokemon noted above rush to the scene of impact to see what happened (and if necessary work to control any forest fires). They find Lyria, unconscious outside the long sealed shrine to the island's god (called Bahamut). They note that the long abandoned and off limits shrine is...glowing. Lyria awakens, and after virtually no exposition is found by Katalina, as well as imperial troops. After a brief fight Gran, realizing that the two ladies are actually fugitives, takes a moment to ponder who the bad guys are in this situation, a question that is helpfully addressed by the Imperial troops as they interact with the locals...

The issue thus resolved, he lends his pitifully non-magical swordsmanship to the two young ladies, and, while nowhere near as skilled as Lt. Katalina, he proves to be quite impressive in his own right, punching well above his weight.

Upon recieving a  bit of exposition after the Imperials withdraw, Gran decides it's a really good idea to accompany these two young ladies on their quest, which currently is to get as far from this island as possible, and ultimately is to...


They are going to work on that while flying away in their airship.

To my astonishment, GranBlue Fantasy  is a hoot!
For all it's many many cliche's this series actually manages to work and not be boring. The pacing is solid throughout and most of the characters are nicely fleshed out. This is a remarkably ensemble cast, with everyone bringing something to the table and as the party grows over the series, they all complement each other well and compensate for each other's weaknesses.

There are consistent and nice character touches too,

Regarding visual quality, there a few off-model scenes and the 12th episode seems to have been rushed, with some of the VFX not up to the series' usual high standards. The art direction is gorgeous, and the animation appears to mostly be cell animation. As often happens, the CGI doesn't quite mesh and this would normally be jarring. However, the computer animation is used mainly for unearthly/ supernatural things where the "off" look actually works very well.

I watched it in two sittings and found it quite enjoyable. the climactic episode (12) is a little odd, and as mentioned earlier seems a bit rushed. Perhaps it was intended to be two episodes. However, it definitely sets the stage for another season, and while it does advance the plot, it really seems more like a mid-season climax than any sort of denouement. This would probably have infuriated me in 2017, but as GBF2 is currently airing it means I have something to look forward to.

There is an episode 13, but it is essentially a Netflix adaptation.

All, in all, I was quite surprised how enjoyable and engaging this show is. It is basic fantasy with a side of steampunk, but it is quite nicely executed and has me hooked for more. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:25 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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February 16, 2020

RWBY Season 7

RWBY's 7th season having just wrapped up on Crunchyroll, it warrants some comment. But first a brief review is warranted of this shows history. Initially started with  a pilot that showcased its tragically low budget, superb voicework, spectacular fight choreography and great promise, the show proceeded to be almost schizophrenically uneven but maintained interest with its interesting characters and  its setting, while something of a cliche' buffet, was genuinely intriguing. The first season was enjoyable despite itself and showed real promise.

The next two seasons got better, surprised its audience, and while the action animation never recovered from the death of Monty Oum midway through the production of season three, the other production values, story and characterizations got exceptional. ...until the season 5 finale which was a fight spread out over approximately 377,482 hours of tedious soliloquy and nothing happening. Season Six was much better, the production values being incredibly good and the story itself having regained its stride, though the finale was a soft cliffhanger.

Rooster Teeth has had its issues of late and its management has seemed to go out of its way to antagonize some of its fans. The company is no longer the 20 or so people punching above their weight but is rather, now, a division of AT&T which makes this seasons enhanced production values pretty much expected and the production problems reported in the media fairly inexcusable.

Given the internal issues being reported and the various clashes with the fandom, one ought not be surprised if the show is a dumpster fire.

Instead, the surprise comes from Season 7 kicking ass. 

This season gets right almost everything that slipped through the cracks in season 5. In particular the pacing is solid throughout, building tension throughout the story to a genuinely gripping season finale.

Even the fight choreography has improved to the point that it's finally approaching parity with the late Monty Oum's work in season's one and two, as this two minute clip from the season opener shows.

This is, hands down, the best season of this show ever. Story wise, the show manages to throw all manner of curve-balls while still retaining its internal logic. There is a little bit of perfuntory advancement in episode two '"Hey! Everybody gets new uniforms!" but almost everything else is beautifully paced and even the surprises (and boy are there surprises), make perfect sense as they're bringing together threads from six other seasons.

This brings us to the two minor quibbles with the show, one is that a lot of the plot is not fully understandable if you haven't seen the previous seasons, (which, sadly means watching season 5). Oh you'll be able to figure it out, but you'll lack that delicious moment of realization when the waiter smiles.

There is also another issue which has caused some consternation in some circles.
but honestly even that development doesn't really detract from the show this time around.

This was just a really solid season and I find myself looking forward to the next (probably last one) with genuine eagerness.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:51 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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February 08, 2020

That Show That Got Yeeted After Three episodes For Being Exactly What it Said it Was

Rest assured that this not a trend for this blog. Whatever passes for a format here, this is not it.

However, this show is being aggressively "disappeared" and its case is curious not only for being cancelled after 3 episodes rather than simply slapping a R-rating on it (despite high ratings), but that the streaming company bought the rights to a show about individuals that travel Ersatz Middle Earth and do consumer reviews of BROTHELS, then translated it, dubbed it, REMOVED pixels from it and then, three episodes in, decided that, upon reflection, it might be lewd. 

After careful analysis, much consideration and in-depth research, I've concluded that this show is, in fact, lewd. 

It's only R-rated though, it doesn't actually cross the line despite dancing along it drunkenly while being aggressively irreverent and completely tasteless. 

It also made me laugh, which is probably indicative of deep character flaws on my part.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 03:15 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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February 02, 2020

So I Heard About Ishuzoku Reviewers

...and did not initially pursue it because, honestly if its only claim to fame is that it's a fan-service show its probably not worth my time.The plot does not inspire confidence..a troupe of (brothel critics?) in a D&D/LOTR esque fantasy-world go around doing reviews of various brothels staffed by numerous fantasy races like elves and mermaids and slimes and..sundry.

 Then I heard the show was quite good, with it actually being described as funny and one of the better shows of the season.. So, I went to Funimation and, to my surprise...

So they have a show that's based on a hentai manga. Its character designs are by a hentai artist. It's plot is more porny than most porn. They depixelated parts of it and they were in the process of dubbing the show. Some of the character designs that have popped up in the promo art , I couldn't even put on this blog clothed. Then all of a sudden they realized "Gracious! This is...(squints) I dare say it might be LEWD!"

How does that even happen!?

 UPDATE: I swear there was a review at the end of that first link.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:00 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Oh NO!

We had two depressing plague posts back to back, involving 3 different viruses. This is unhygienic, depressing, and not in keeping with the format of what is among its many other formats, still an anime blog.

I should probably watch some anime.
And review it.
In the meantime, here are some AMVs.

One for our new Canadian viewers.

Because this isn't YouTube...we can repeat one from a few years ago.

Caravan Palace is always welcome

Another re-run because...reasons.

Finally, I here tell that we're all Russian bots here so...

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 01:10 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 01, 2020

Star Trek Picard

To say that this show has been unenthusiastically received is a rather large understatement.

Much of this lack of positive buzz can be laid squarely at the feet of  the show's immediate Predecessor Star Trek: Discovery.

Despite incredibly talented actors and superb production values, STD's writing and general asshattery seems to have poisoned the well for many fans with its strange combination of sanctimony, stupidity, and frequent contempt for the fans and its source material. 

Learning from it's showrunner's missteps, CBS-All Access has pinned it's hopes on a new series that is being presented as a sequel to the Star Trek shows of the 90's, built around a geriatric but plucky Admiral Picard.

Despite the logo, only the pilot is on Amazon Prime

It seems that the damage done by STD was considerable, because Picard's ratings have been sufficiently bad that CBS has actually released the pilot of the new show for free viewing on YouTube.ht

So with low expectations, I sat down and watched it.

Jean Luc-Picard, one of the United Federation of Planet's greatest heroes is spending his twilight years on his french vineard, when suddenly the protagonist of a young adult novel blunders into his retirement, setting in motion a series of events that causes him to make an astonishing discovery...

To my surprise, this does not appear at this point to be a bad show, I can't honestly say if it's GOOD yet, as the pilot is mostly set-up, but it's really interesting There are a LOT of interesting ideas being touched on. There are also there are a lot of call-backs to ST:TNG that are respectful and don't have Worf being a Kling-Ork (and there was much rejoicing).

Among the complaints among TREKdom is the rumor that the show makes a POLITICAL statement. Well, it does. Star Trek always has, and one of the major themes of Star Trek is one of universal respect for sentient beings. The brief foray into politics in this pilot are not out of place in a Star Trek episode and part of the political discussion stems from the fact that Picard remains admirably idealistic ( but perhaps naively so given the backstory touched upon in the pilot). 

The story is appealing and the production values look great. It's VERY different from TNG but it seems that it is a part of the same universe, a very different vibe than I got from the few episodes of Discovery I watched.

I am not opposed to watching more of this show. In fact I'm rather impressed and want to see more.

Getting me to PAY for this show is another matter.

STD so poisoned the well that I'm ambivalent at best about subscribing to CBS All-Access when this show, as appealing as it seems, could very easily go completely off the rails and end up in a dumpster fire. Moreover, the general contempt that some of the showrunners have expressed for the fans in general and my demographic in particular do not encourage me to give them money.

That then is the problem that CBS faces with this show. The pilot is pretty good and actually encouraging.Two years ago I and others would have been begging them to take my money for this show, but after STD that is a much higher bar now, and the new normal of being nickle-and-dime'd to death by an ever expanding number of streaming services is a particular source of resentment for many, including myself.

Time will tell if this warrants a subscription.

I might be persuaded to buy the DVD's though.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:53 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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