Friday, September 20, 2019

Several Months in Review: Catching up

Hokay so, I'm probably going to be moving to a new city for my job soon, (but mostly because I just want out of the dead-end nowhere I am now and from the vultures I occasionally call family), but that's actually absolutely nothing to do with why I forgot that I should be posting here. Anyway, on with the show:

If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord
: Last Seen: Episode 12
20$ bet says this was adapted from a light novel. I WONDER what might have given that away without me even looking it up...could it be the absurdly long sentence for a name instead of a simpler title?
Anyway, I'm 85% positive 12 was the finale, so time to talk about it. It's simple and heartwarming. There may or may not be a new genre being formed that you could summarize as "cute girls doing cute things", I don't belong to any kind of loop to be in the know, so don't take my word for it. This is basically a derivative of that, where it's just A cute girl, Being cute, and her guardian gushing over her.
I give the show a very simple Recommendation with no bells and whistles. I'm actually more interested in the lore and world the story is set in than the two main characters, go figure, but whatever. The entire story arc with Maya was especially interesting to me for how many subtle details they managed to convey about the differences between Beast-folk, Humans, and Halfs, without setting aside a monologue for it. Even when they did stop to monologue for an while in an episode, they kept it relevant and interesting to listen to. I appreciate that. Go give the show a try, especially if you want something heartwarming and charming to perk up your day.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that I kept getting "Usagi Drop" vibes from the show. I'm not talking about the anime either, I'm talking about the manga which I read from start to finish. Being a social outlier I didn't have the knee-jerk reaction to the ending most people around that time had, I thought it was put together and portrayed properly enough. Idealistic beyond belief and impossible outside of fiction, but that's neither here nor there. I remember thinking at the time that the author would basically never live it down, but honestly I couldn't have cared less one way or the other. I mention it only because I get the distinct impression that ... (okay I'm just going to call it "this show" instead of thinking up a clever shorthand for it), This Show has a very high probability of containing a similar ending in its future. Certainly seems to be laying enough foundations for it, and like in the past, I'm okay with that so long as they are actually doing it to tell an interesting story, and not just for shock value or worse reasons. Anyway, that's my two-bits, take it or leave it.
[Aside end]

To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts: Last Seen: Episode 12
Again, I'm about 90% sure that was the finale episode for this show, so time to talk about it.
I'm rather on the fence about this show. I really feel like I should have been more invested in it, more hyped for each episode. Yet I continuously wasn't. I can't really put my finger on why either. So, I'll just kind of ramble about various points.

*-All told, I get the feeling I'd have enjoyed reading this story as a book more than watching it as a show. There are several time's I thought that during the story.
*-Schaal comes dangerously close to being "that character", the one you constantly wonder why the hell they're even in the story, almost completely useless. I think that's because the story feels like it needs her to be a balance to all the violence and war by being a "naive" and "innocent" person slowly being broken in to the horrors of war and humanity. Except...I don't feel like this particular story needed that element in it. Certainly, she needed to be there to be a foil of sorts to our other main lead, Hank, but more as a grounding force rather than a child being led by the hand. It gets better later, but I felt like she stayed "naive-acting" for a bit too long.
*-Really, it would be remiss of me not to admit that while I wholeheartedly support cybernetic augmentation as being straight up better these days, both as a "if I was offered the chance, would I" thought exercise, and also as a plot device...I used to be a huge buff for shape-shifting. Any kind of shape-shifting at all was, and to a degree still is, awesome to me. Especially the limitless shifting you can get out of some pieces of fiction.
So really, this show should have been right up my alley, rubbing up those old nostalgic memories. Instead, I just ended up remembering why I concluded cybernetics comes across better for most of the same plot uses. Biological shape-shifting almost always ends up shoehorned into the same niche as the Super-Human-Soldier tropes, for obvious reasons. It can be really interesting when it's not, but it's usually how it's introduced in the story and world, so the setting can be all about reacting to it from a relatively relatable view point for the audience.
*-If I had to put my finger down on one thing I definitely didn't like about the show, it's how completely and utterly one-sided the Incarnates getting shafted was. While it's fine to get across that societies majority reaction was such, the fact that we see, what? One, maybe Two if we get technical, people accept the horrible situation the Incarnates are in... its kind of awkward and boring. Grant, I did enjoy the "monster of the week" story framework it ended up setting up for Hank, but I'm just splitting hairs at this point.

All told, I won't give the show an out and out recommendation, but I did think it was quite good at the end of the day. I'm just kind of vaguely confused why I didn't like it more than I do. I feel like I really should have. *shrug*

Demon Slayer, Kimetsu no Yaiba: Last Seen: Episode 24
I certainly fucking hope that wasn't the finale episode, but it probably was, and now I'm sad.
Recommendation with ALL the bells and whistles people. Got it? You should be watching this show. It is literally god-tier at this point. I can not recall a single time in my life where an anime managed to so consistently raise the stakes every. single. episode. Gurann Lagann might count, but took breaks and a lot longer to do it? I dunno.

Now, especially so as a guy who literally gives no shits about graphical quality,
this show is so God-Damned pretty.
But not in the same kind of way that Ancient Magus Bride was...that was pretty in a very straight-forward kind of way, like every scene could be framed as a painting and hung on your wall. The amazing graphics on Demon Slayer are all in the action, the motion and way things happen...and absolutely in the amazing special effects on the "Breathing Arts" the characters use. Anyway, show is great, 'nuff said.

Dr. Stone: Last Seen: Episode 11
If I had to be the one to tell you that this show is amazing, you're doing something wrong. Almost 100% positive this show has a hype train a mile wide, but just in case you live in a hole under a rock like I do, let me lay it out for you:
Recommended all the way. 'Nuff said.

Fire Force: Last Seen: Episode 10
*cracks fingers* Okay, probably going to have to work a little harder to convince people on this one.
SO. Right out of the gate, not gonna lie, this show fits right into your typical Shounen-Genre framework. There is literally no way I can categorize it as anything else. However, don't let that discourage you, I very much think this show has so far shown a lot of promising merits. First of all though, lets get my big-ass-elephant-in-the-room bias out of the way:

I absolutely adore this shows opening music and animation. I've had the full version of the song playing on loop as my background music while I'm at work for going on 2-3 weeks now (maybe longer I'm terrible with time), only just today turned it back onto shuffle instead of repeat-song. I think I like it for the animation more than the music itself, the music is merely a portable utility to help me rewatch it in my head. Speaking with authority for having looped it for so long, the music itself isn't particularly amazing in any specific way, so I don't think it's a case of the composition being genius or anything. It's probably 100% a personal bias since I can't think of or pinpoint any reason why I like listening to it so much.

*claps* Right, now that I've got that out of the way. Let's make a quick comparison for reference. Black Clover which is still airing right now, is what I would call a through-and-through Shounen show, right down to its bone-marrow. Fire Force meanwhile, is a show I would say is simply using the Shounen-Genre framework. I would attribute most of this to the absurdly high level of maturity all of the main cast display. I mention this, because of their age.
Recently, I've noticed that there is a good 60-90% improved chance of me liking a show if its main character is at least 20-something-plus, and a progressively exponential formula in the opposite direction for every year of life you shave away from them. That is to say, yappy naive youths are utterly annoying to me anymore. Might be because of a job working with the public, but I don't seem to be as wholly apathetic about them as I used to.
[Aside end]
Which is why Fire Force stands out to me for their main cast acting...well, appropriately for their stations in life. Young or not, these are people applying, and more importantly being accepted into a Fire-Fighting Force. Fiction or no, that's a position of immense risk and responsibility. I've heard that on-average Japan treats officers, fire-fighters, and other such positions, with a lot more respect and decorum than the average American, (which from personal experience I will attest to as not being that high of a bar to jump over these days depending on where you live in America). Maybe that's why the cast isn't as typically ... immature? as your standard Shounen protagonist.
Hell, one of the main leads is...well...practically bordering on autistic with his personal self-image, and not a bright bulb by any measure of Watts. Yet, he's functionally eccentric. Rather than feeling like someone let a lunatic onto the force and should lose their job for it, it instead comes off as a person with personality flaws and positives being given the pass for his exceptional ability to actually perform. I think this most comes across in how he's constantly bickering with the main character, and it's straight up admitted that he changed his self-appointed-title to spite him. Yet, when they're actually doing their job, they basically never bring it up unless they get a break to stop for a few moments. In your standard Shounen, that dead-horse would be beaten on literally every two seconds the characters are on screen.
Who knows, maybe I'm just reading into it too much, I have a tendency to do that, but I could tap a few more things about the show that I like as well, more or less along the same lines as this.
I do have to mention that I find the newest addition, Tamaki's ... Lucky?/Unlucky? running gag rather grating, but the way they've framed it is mildly amusing so I'm giving it a pass for now.

All told, I give this show a solid: Recommendation.
If you gave it a pass because it looked too Shounen for your tastes, I would implore you to give it a second look. By the time the first Infernal has been killed in the first episode, you should already have a good feel for the general impression of the show. Maybe that's a bit intense of a thing for me to say, but I gotta try to be bold at least every once in a while. Give the show a shot.

Midnight Occult Civil Servant: Last Seen: End
This show was good. ... Well that's about it. Honestly I was hoping for more from it, but it didn't do anything wrong. That's literally the only problem I had with it: I loved the setting and world lore so much that I just wanted so much more of it, and there was only a small serving given to us. The last story arc especially still gives me a nice warm brain-fuzzy, I really liked it a lot.
Other than that though, it's not a particularly outstanding show in any special way beyond it's great level-headed tone and good pacing. They did a fantastic job with the...Anti-hero? in one of the arcs, I SO wanted to punch that shit-head right in his smug face. You'll figure it out when you get there. It's especially potent because that's the entire point of the story being present from the main characters perspective of being able to actually communicate with and understand Anothers, while for everyone else, the Anti-heroes stance is technically the safe professional way to handle things, even if that's not entirely the reason for him taking that stance.
A good Recommendation.


Okay that's what I could scrounge out from my, frankly, massive and bloated episodes list of stuff I've been watching/finished. I know there's more in there I should talk about but for now this is what I could skim off real fast. I'll try to remember to post more often here. (shush, I know I've said that multiple times. I'm working on it.) All told, I hit the high notes

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