Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Teenage RomCom is SNAFU Too

Summary: Welcome back to season 2 of RomCom SNAFU.

First Impression: I actually had a hard time remembering this one. I remembered it was good, but aside from that I didn't get any highlights other than the three main characters...and the tennis game. Which is still one of the most hilariously awesome things. As soon as episode 1 got rolling though, I remembered why I loved this show. Hikigaya. That's it. Just, Hikigaya. I absolutely love this character, and anytime he opens his mouth, it is either solid gold, or a platform for him to raise solid gold out of. Interestingly enough, I also enjoy the ditzy character as well, mostly because unlike most carbon cutouts of this character type, she actually absorbs some of the 'Straight Characters' sense. Which in this case, even in small doses means a lot since it's Hikigaya we're talking about.

My Opinion: This requires the first season to watch and make any sense at all out of. However, if you've paid the price of entry, and you enjoyed it, this is going to be just as good the second time around. Of course, no promises on how it ends, anything romance related is a Russian Roulette filled with bullets that may just explode in the chamber when it comes to proper endings in anime. Never the less, I'm confident enough in this shows comedy to recommend the journey, regardless of the destination.

Monday, April 13, 2015

[New][April 2015] Plastic Memories

Summary: After failing his college entrance exams, 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation due to his father’s connections. SAI Corporation is known for its production and management of androids that possess human emotions, called Giftia. Tsukasa’s position is in the Terminal Service Department, where the main job is to recover Giftias that are close to their expiration, a graveyard department in every sense.

First Impression:
Soul Sucker.

My Opinion: Are you uncomfortable with your heart being tucked in all snug and lonely inside your chest? Well, step right up to this show here! Where it will tenderly wrap warm embracing hands around your heart...and then dig in its claws and rip it out.

Yeah. Welcome to a genre I haven't seen in a good long while. I call it the Soul Sucker. Standard name is probably Tragedy, but this show feels like it will fall into my special sub-division of tragedy: Soul Sucker. These shows are marked by my brains distinct refusal to retain them despite their amazing quality, until such time as something reminds me of them, and then it tries its best to give me an emotional break down with the full plots return all at once. Because, my brain, and plots, and the retaining. Sometimes not such a useful and pleasant skill.

This show is the kind of thing you get from probing the Human Experience without calm intellectualism or tense/exhilarating drama. When you just dive deep, and...then it takes you away without any supports or fall-backs.

Anywho, this show lays the story on thick in the first episode. They get that heart string tugger of theirs pulling on your heart strings full tilt just a few minutes in. They don't even stop to have an opening, just a brief few seconds of Title. Of course, they do stop to try and fish a hook of Romance into you with the first few seconds, but I somehow doubt that's going to be the core of this show. Just a feeling. A bad one.
It's starting to become a recurring theme in my life that I try to 'spot the hook', so to speak, in the first minute of the show. I understand the first impression can be everything...I just question a lot of the anime I've seen the Hook in...and their choice of hook. Like, this is clearly a Tragedy based anime...and they choose love interest as their hook? That just seems ridiculous to me. There is literally no other element of that in the rest of the first episode.

I just want to take a moment aside here to think aloud about a certain part of culture. Particularly, the almost bipolar nature of Television. One second, you could be watching the news and it's about Genocide somewhere in the world, and the next it's "Isn't that horrible? Yes, just. Now back to you, insert name, with the weather." Or the flitting completely random non-sequitur nature of commercials and product bombardment. I watched a fair bit of TV as a kid, but the older I got, the more of a gamer I became, and the less TV I cared about, till finally I just completely removed it from my life sometime before/during High School. It still remains an interest of mine, what kind of effects this particular cultural element can render on people. I mention all this, because the show has...not quite a grinding gear shift between tones I wouldn't say, but it is glaring. Mostly because you can just feel them trying to, almost, apologize for ripping your heart out with some light comedy. Like, "oh? Did we do that again? So sorry, here let us just...put that back in your chest. Sorry...we...might do it again. Sorry."
It just kind of makes me wonder if we'd be so receptive to this kind of thing in Anime if there wasn't a widespread cultural foundation for it born from the Golden Years of TV. Just idle thoughts.
[Aside end]

Friday, April 10, 2015

I can't Understand what my Husband is Saying 2

Summary: It's more of the original.

First Impression: I was a little surprised that they didn't pick up right where the last one left off. Interestingly enough, despite being a 3 minute purely comedic show, it did have a...arc of sorts. Mostly the two very peculiarly paired characters interacting and working things out is what happens every episode, but from a retrospective view, I can recognize now a sort of plot that slowly moves forward. Unfortunately, it's all so subtle that I'd ruin what the show concludes on in the first season if I said anything.

The reason I point all that out, is that they had a very strong place to resume the show on...and they kind of do...? I mean, they resume with the conclusion of an effort one of the characters was making near the end of the previous season, and it is kind of related to the main ending event...but it is no main event. Perhaps they just didn't want to immediately jump into it with the seasonal gap? Best guess I have. Second episode should show what direction they're moving with it.

My Opinion: I loved this show's first season. I think it's the first 3 minute show I've ever actually finished. I've started... four that I know of just off the top of my head, but only this fourth one have I finished. I just don't get into the short show style, but I loved this show anyway. I'd like to believe that's something to credit the show with as being impressive. Unfortunately, it is comedy, so everyone has different tastes. I quietly chuckled for most of the episode, but then at the end they use a gag-tap from the previous season, and I just heartily laughed out loud.

Long story short? I recommend this show, but it is comedy, so your mileage may vary.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

[Ended] Seiken Tsukai no World Break (World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman): Why did I finish this again?


Pros: Cookie Cutter Shounen.
-If you have any kind of a checklist for Shounen, it's going to be mostly filled by the end of this series.
Yelling for power? Check.
Friendship is power/magic? Check.
Love Triangle/Quadrangle/Harem? Check.
This show aims to be as broad and flat as possible, and some people love that.
-Precisely because it is so spread out and flat, no one thing is ever especially annoying, despite frequently getting close.
-No cliffhanger ending, although they dropped a single seed to try.

Cons: Everything in the pros section.
-Flatter than a piece of paper.
-Did I mention yelling makes you stronger? Also, 'I remember' (Omoidashita). That works too. Plot armor? Check.
-'Moroha solves the world' would be just as good of a title.
-Plot holes. Plot holes everywhere.

My Opinion: This was...hard to remember why I bothered continuing to watch it each week. Then I realized: Of course. I can't remember it, so I can't remember how neutral it was. Therefore, I am not prevented from watching it by my negative memories of it.
Okay fine, to be fair, the action is okay. But that is essentially the only selling point of the show in my book. It's all flash, and it all falls flat after the adrenaline wears off. Comedy included. At first, things were pretty funny. Despite immediately drawing the 'Harem' card into its hand, it never really played it, right up until the end. I mean that. They flaunt the card in our faces, waving it all over the place, but literally every member of the Harem somehow settles into a slot and just...stays there. So the drama of that is also flat. Sister? Check. Passive-aggressive lover? Check. Living body-pillow? Check. New Sister? Check. I suppose it is also worth mentioning that I laughed my ass off at the 'overly adult themed' Vice-Captain of the Strikers squad. I suppose that was the only hook the show got in me. It was about the only thing that was fresh, everything else is done-before, or outright stagnant.

Impartial Opinion: It got me to watch it to the end. That doesn't get it any positive points, just a lack of negatives. That roughly sums up this show in a sentence: Nothing Gained, Nothing Lost. The actions flashy, if lack-luster in assembly and reasoning. Moroha solves everything, but friendship means everyone somehow contributes, even if it feels like Moroha could have figured it out on his own as well. Final Battle royale? Better use our patented version of the 'yelling makes you stronger' copyright to make Moroha save the day, (+friends, which was the one and only new thing) and make him remember something from his past life.

At the end of the day, all this show does is pass time. Nothing has changed by the end of episode 12, the status quo is merely maintained, and it didn't even fluctuate that much to begin with. You have way too much time on your hands? Maybe you just really love a piece of flashy action? Pick it up.

Otherwise, go somewhere else. You could be spending your time better.

[Ended] Log Horizon 2: THIS IS HOW YOU END A SHOW

Pros: More, and yet the same.
-The lore, plot, and story are all pulling aces
-There's more action this time around, while also not skimping on plot or story
-Shiroe is still a primary, but other characters are getting a lot more time, especially including the party of newbies
-A PROPER ending. This is the kind of ending that all anime should be envious of. Every relevant plot is resolved, but the story is left clear roads to continue expanding, we're given a taste of the seeds of the new plot lines, and most importantly, it feels satisfying. That's the part so many anime fail on while trying to 'cliff-hang' room for a new season. They make it so that the season we have is completely unsatisfying on its own. If Log Horizon 3 never comes? These two seasons will still be good on their own.

Cons: Nothing I can think of
-Just copy paste whatever I wrote about season 1 here and you're good. This is just Log Horizon++
(programming joke, sorry. Couldn't resist)

My Opinion: Welcome back to Log Horizon! No really. I loved Log Horizon, and the sequel did nothing to change my opinion about it. Which is a plus, because sooo many anime tend to have either one of the sequel outshining the first season, or making it look horrible in retrospect because you see what kind of a burning wreck it's going to crash into.

Impartial Judgement: This is Log Horizon, continued. It does bare mentioning however, that I came across more than a few opinions that the first season's action was underwhelming. Those opinions were mixed on it being because there was too little, or because it wasn't satisfying when it was there. The second season seems to have taken those opinions to heart, because it ramps the action up like there's no tomorrow. For once? I'm fine with that. They didn't skimp on the story or plot to pay for the increased action, and the lore is being woven in just as deeply as before, so it's all squared in my book. Additionally, Shiroe isn't the gravitational center of the majority of the story for once. Several other characters are given their own time to stand strongly in the spotlight. Emphasis on strongly, not any of this quick shuffling of people into and out of the spotlight like some shows fail at doing.

Long story short? If you liked Log Horizon 1, you'll like this.
If you didn't like Log Horizon 1? You may like this if the reason was lack of action...but you'll still have to have watched all of Season 1.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

[Ended] Parasyte -The Maxim-

Pros: If intellectual depth is what you're looking for in an anime, you'd be hard pressed to beat this without something like Serial Experiments Lain.
-Deep! Deeper! More Depth Required! I can't think of the last time anime tried to be so...down to earth. I mean, sure, everything's off the hinge surreal because Parasites but still it is a lot more grounded than anything that has been around lately. This show has a mission statement to crack open the human psyche and just keep digging.
-The animation is worthy of note, to me anyway, in how unique it was for the parasites. Not much to say on this point other than that, I'm not really the one to talk to about graphical fidelity.
-Actions worthy of mention. Ultimately, it's not what I was here for...strangely enough, given the fast start the show had, but when a fight does break out it is always the center of my attention, because it is always resolved practically. No plot armor here.

Cons: Depth. Yeah.
-I just know that somewhere out there, is someone who has taken great offense that anime would try to be at all psychological, but that's not what I'm talking about. For a lot of people, anime is a great way to unwind, to kick back and just mindlessly enjoy something fun. Personally, this anime still floats my boat on this point, but I like to think I'm at least kind of eccentric that brooding is a relaxing unwinding state.
-The ending is a little abrupt. At the same time, it feels like the kind of thing that may very well have happened in the original source material. There's more things to see and for the story to continue on with, but all relevant immediate plot points have been resolved in a very practical manner. It still is way too neatly cut for my tastes, but that's likely because I was really into this show.

My Opinion: This was an awesome show. Hands down, I loved it from start to finish. I may not have made any posts about it, but that was only because I was afraid of fangasm'ing all over EvilCat's blog. This show is just absurdly philosophical. You barely get a single episode to go by without Migi or Shinichi brooding on some question of humanity or morality. That said, there is always going to be that guy. You know, the never-happy-enough kook that will point out that "OH WELL NOW, the show hasn't REALLY talked about anything THAT deep! It could have talked about Philosophical Point A or Philosophical Point B, or ..." blah-dy blah blah nyeh. Whatever. They can go stuff it for all I care... okay I just got a bit strawman-fallacy'ish there. What I mean to say is, even if this wasn't taken in the context of it being an anime, and was just standing on its own, I feel the show would still be a good piece of deeper narrative than what you popularly get today. No one gets plot armor, things happen practically, and people react reasonably within expectations.

Impartial Judgement: Not for Everyone. Not by a long shot. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the things Migi and Shinichi brood on had never come anywhere close to some peoples worlds of thought. These days, we enjoy more than a little peace and most places. No where is perfect, but there is a bad case of 'The Bubble Worlds' that people sometimes live in, perfectly unaware of the terrible things that happen in the world. Me, I watch 'Criminal Minds' as entertainment, so I'm more than a little biased to enjoying a good moral gray and terrible happenings brooding about humanity and the human experience. If you want a solid deep story with a stable plot, Parasyte is for you. The action decreases in frequency as the show goes on, but interestingly enough gets more intricate in exchange. The plot however, isn't the deepest thing in the world. Unless you count the brooding as part of it, the plot is very face-value as Shinichi's motives for pretty much the entire show, and I suppose that could bug some people. He doesn't have a case of the Shinji's, he grows as a character, it's just very one sided most of the time.

Ultimately, I give this a full recommendation for anyone that doesn't feel squeamish around death and questioning humanity and morality.

Additionally, I have finally reached a conclusion about what to do for my own personal awards system. I just can't match EvilCat's system on a number of points, not the least of which being I hardly ever pay attention to animation or sound unless it is just so horrible you can't ignore it. By that point, it would be redundant of me to say anything. I've decided that I'm going to just file it down to the core essence:
Shows will either get a Recommended tag from my End posts, or not. Just because I wouldn't recommend a show doesn't mean it's bad. That's the part I've always wanted to avoid, inadvertantly labeling a show as 'bad' just because it wasn't something I myself would typically enjoy.
[Aside end]