Thursday, March 23, 2017

Scum's Wish Episode 11 Review

Akane and Kanai goon a couple's getaway and Akane does some deep soul searching about how she really feels and why she does what she does until Kanai unconditionally accepts Akane and proposes marriage that she accepts. The episode ends with Akane telling Mugi and breaking of their relationship while Mugi confesses that he always loved the "broken" Akane. For a series that has been so much about artifice and presentation over reality and artifice and fantasy over reality and honesty this has to be the most honest episode of the series honestly giving Akane a real human heart and not the two dimensional villain she has been for the first ten episodes. The entire first half focusing on Kanai who is if nothing chivalrous and considerate which baffles Akane and tries to find a way to "corrupt" the overgrown boy scout. IT's kind of funny and sweet to see Akane kind of baffled by the fact that someone would be willing to accept her as she is even if she ends up hurting him. This could all devolve into some kind of codependency or hero complex on Kanai's part but honestly at this point I'll take what ever shred of human tenderness I can get from this series which up until this point has been stifling and suffocating in it's angst leaving the series feeling like an long self indulgent journal entry from someone with no real emotional maturity or someone's idea of what that might be like. Yet it still took ten episodes of wallowing in the stultifying emotional stygian to get to this point and as enjoyable as this episode was as a respite from that. It all feels tonally off and with only one more episode I think everything will end up feeling rushed and while I hold out hope for a conclusive ending I don't know if closure will equal satisfaction or it could end up like season two of Tokyo Ghoul. I don't know I know I'll just be happy this experience is over because it has been one of the most dispiriting experiences watching Anime I have had other than watching Violence Jack

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Preorderpalooza and Update

Figured I'd do a blog update and write about some of the Manga titles I've pre-ordered now I've already written about Waiting for Spring by Anashin and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu by Kumota, Haruko in my Best and Worst Anime, Manga, and Light Novels of 2016 post. So I will not be writing about those two instead I'll be going off of my Plan To Read List over at MAL. First up is Plum Crazy! Tales of A Tiger-Striped Cat licensed in English by Seven Seas Entertainment. This is Josei cat Manga now I love Josei Manga Okazaki, Kyoko is one of my all time favorite Mangaka and I really feel like Josei is one of the last untapped frontiers for Western Otaku. Now Plum Crazy is simply a slice of life series with a cat it would be really easy to say it's Chi's Sweet Home for women but I think that's reductive. If anything I'm supporting this because one I am militantly pro cat and two I want to support some Josei Manga that is not warmed over Harlequin romance tropes or simply sexed up Shojo for twenty somethings who have moved on from reading Shojo Comic and Bessatsu Friend. As I can remember the days when Tokyo Pop tried to put out titles like Mitsukazu Mihara's The Embalmer or start up the Passion Fruit line of comics as specifically comics for women. In short I hope this if Plum Crazy does well it may make Seven Seas or others be a little more adventurous and get more left of center Josei out in the American market that is not simply republications of Ai Yazawa titles or romance comics. Delicious in Dungeon licensed by Yen Press, this is about a broke group of adventurers who to keep from starving to death are forced to resort to eating the monsters they run into in the dungeons they raid this is one of those ideas that's so screwy weird that it both sounds like something that I'm surprised no one ever thought of it before. In short this combines two things I like cooking and old school D&D style fantasy while also having a quirky sense of humor. Next is Golden Kamuy about an Russo-Japanese war veteran on the quest to find an stash of gold in the wilderness of Hokkaido to help out the widow of an dead comrade and teams up with a young Ainu girl to find it while also trying to duck a pack of criminals that seek the gold he's been made aware of. In short this sounds like hot blooded fun like old Kazuo Koike or Hiroshi Hirata mixed with the sort of gross humor one would find in early Naruto. Again this is something where the period of history is what draws me into it along with the fact that an Ainu girl is one of the main characters and while oftentimes the battle for representation feels like the complaints of a bunch of malcontents. This is something I want to support specifically because it's nice to see diversity in Manga. Arakawa Under the Bridge a screwy romantic comedy about a straight laced guy who has been taught from youth never to be indebted to anyone and his budding relationship with the eccentric Nino and her community of homeless oddballs he ends up having to associate with. Honestly I picked this up because Vertical is putting it out in an omnibus and know nothing other than the basic plot synopsis and that Studio Shaft worked on an Anime adaptation of it. I'll see but I look forward to it. Next up are two other Vertical Titles Flying Witch and Gundam Wing: The Glory of Losers. Flying Witch of course is the original manga of the spring 2016 Anime about a teenaged witch Makoto "Mako" Kowata and her chilled out adventures with her relatives in northern Japan sadly the only thing I really remember about the Anime other than it being charming is how much Anons on 4chan sexualized Chinatsu. This was something I picked up because the price was right and considering the fact that I've been reading stuff like Gundam Thunderbolt I need some stuff to just vibe out to as well. Gundam Wing: The Glory of Losers, is the Manga adaptation and retelling of the Gundam Wing universe of the Gundam franchise. I'm old enough to remember when this first started airing on Toonami and at the time it never did anything for me Tenchi Muyo and Dragon Ball Z were more my speed although I had a friend that made bootleg Gundam Wing shirts in middle school. This is a series that always kind of baffled me that it got so popular with people. Also even though I never watched a lot of it I always liked Quatre and would even say he is my favorite Gundam Pilot. In short one could look at this as the Gundam Origin of The Gundam Wing universe. Next are two Manga adaptations of Light Novels Akashic Records of the Bastard Magical Instructor and the second That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Akashic Record is about a seemingly slacker instructor at a magical High School who it turns out has an idyosincratic form of magic that involves negating all magic than using hand to hand combat to beat his opponents. It's an interesting idea also Sistine Fibel has adorable little animal ears I am a simple man don't judge me. While That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is pretty self-explanatory an guy gets killed trying to save a friend and is transferred to an fantasy world where he is reincarnated as a slime which is of course the most worthless and easy monster in most D&D and Dragon Quest influenced games, Anime, and Manga so it will be interesting to see how this goes. Are three Shojo titles Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight, The Water Dragon's Bride, and Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty. Kiss Me at the storke of Midnight about a seemingly straight-laced girl who is a closeted romance fan who ends up catching the eye of her crush actor Ayase Kaedea and finding out he also has a secret less "princely" persona. In short sounded charming and the compareson to Kare Kano made me happy. The Water Dragon's Bride is a series by Rei Touma whose previous series Reimei no Arcana was a favorite though I never finished it. While Wake Up Sleeping Beauty feels like a straight up romantic drama honestly these where chosen as part of my push to get back into Shojo Manga. Next is Alice to Zouroku a story about an old amn who runs a flower shop who takes in a girl with strange powers in short this sounds like Elfin Lied except with less gore. This was nother blind buy simply becuese the idea sounded interesting. Next is Sekirei this has been released so far digitaly so far but a print run just got announce a few weeks ago this is a series that helped get me back into Anime when the Sekirei Anime was released sohas always had a soft spot in my heart. Also Devilman G an retelling of Go Nagai's Devilman mythos now I am an unabashed fan of Go Nagai he can put out so many oddball ideas that it's hard to understand how it's possible and this is one of those things I want to support becuese Nagai has never been able to find much of an audience in the States sor of the reverse of Ikuhara. Also up is Cutie Honey a Go Go! The manga adaptation of the live action movie directed by Hideki Anno wich may be the closest we get to any Cutie Honey manga so a case of "eat what you are given" I guess. Finely I come to Light Novels The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria an horror light novel with no media tie in like a drama cd or an Anime in the works I'm only ordering this becuese I want more Light Novels that are just that Light Novels and not part of a media mix package to be brought over next is oddly two novels that are the inspiration for an Anime in Magical Girl Raising Project which became a surprise favorite for me and Kimi No Na Wa Another Side: Earthbound an spin off Light Novel set in the fictional universe of the super popular Makoto Shinkai movie which I have not seen so I can not really speculate one way or the other. As far as blogging I have been reviewing Scum's Wish but it's hard to review something in which you care nothing for the characters. More so than a series I actively hate or is ridiculously bad.I have ideas for reviews but in between work and powering through older series such as Rurouni Kenshin and Death Note along with the scads of Gundam series and new stuff I am not at a loss of things to watch. Thinking critically about it is sometimes easier said than done while also getting to a point where I don't care about dub vs. sub debate I am not going to make myself feel guilty if I watch a dub. As well as avoiding scene politics but as I've said it's hard when most of the taste makers share the same basic world view that is fundamentally opposed to mine but I find live and let live is the order of the day combined with me getting low grade anxiety attacks whenever I post on ANN's forum. So I have ideas but some of it is me having to finish series than review it or simply just reading things for the sake of reading it. Becoming overly critical can be a problem but I try to at least be thoughtful. So reviews may come infrequently but I have not given up and Spiritually I'm in a better place than I have been in years. So no worries about me discerning the call to an monastery vocation for months. So again things are slowling down but that's just becuese life and the sheer amount of series I am consuming. So I will try to get reviews for the first volumes of a few series maybe a week to week digest of what I've been watching and reading as far as Manga and Anime go so who knows sky's the limit.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Scum's Wish Episode 10 Review

An entire episode that focuses almost completely on Akane her inner life and her relationships past and her present relationships with both Mugi and Kanai and her overall psychology. I wish I could say I cared about any of this but it's pretty much what's been hinted at and what I figured would be Akane's Raison d'être she has no morals and no scruples it would be easy to simply write her off as a one dimensional sociopath and while I would love dearly to say that this doesn't happen the series honestly does just this she becomes self aware but there no real introspection in the latter half as she simply still juggles the two relationships and Kanai still continues to feel like he is in the wrong series feeling almost "too good for this sinful earth" level of purity. I really wish I had some profound insight about what this series is trying to say but it is so lost in it's own head an criticism I have made since the beginning that it feels unreal. In the end this is a series that I have come not to hate or loath but simply to endure to the end because I have given up the will to care about any of these people and simply endure each new episode of a grim determination brought on by the Sunk-cost fallacy so thankfully two more episodes and than I drive a steak through the heart of this monster and safely put it at the top of my Worst of The Year list which it has so richly earned the number one spot. Also from a technical standpoint despite some nifty visual tricks with rose petals or camera angles this is probably the worst looking episode of the series with character design looking and feeling like cheap Studio Deen designs from one of their lesser BL series like Junjo Romantica. This was never a pretty looking series but this episode had such bland lifeless character movement and color choice that felt frankly nauseating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai: Review

Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai chronicles the life of Ō-Ei the daughter of painter one of the four daughters of the painter Houkusai and her relationship not only to her Father but art and her younger blind sister. While also capturing the mood and feel of Edo ear Japan. Ō-Ei often working as an understudy or outright doing finishing works for her Father while also trying to juggle feelings of not being able to be outwardly an Artist and living in the shadow of her famous Father and dealing with the heavy burden of not fitting into mold of Edo era Japan's understanding of what a "respectable" woman is or labeled naïve due to her lack of romantic experience. Miss Hokusai is very much a period film a well executed piece of animation that captures the feel of an era and it's characters but also feels timeless with it's depictions of Ō-Ei's struggles her strained relationship with her father and her relationship with her younger sister it raises questions about the artist and society to what extent does devotion to one's art entail separation from society or basic family interactions? Or can an artist be called a master if her "farms" his work out to an understudy? These are interesting questions but the movie seems more interested in asking them or making you think up questions that it is supposedly asking. This is fine a movie is not beholden to answering questions and sometimes a work of art is stronger because it does not condescend to it's audience by spoon feeding answers to an audience. As is this is a movie that is more a mood piece than a deep dive into the artistic process in fact the best parts of the movie for where the parts dealing with Ō-Ei's relationship with her younger sister as it gave me the most to think about and felt the most human. As the movie could have been an overly narcissistic portably of how important art is and really making it all about the "genius" making said art. All and all a solid well made visual exercise in humanity and the creative impulse without being overbearing.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Scum's Wish Episode 9: Review

Hanabi and Sanae get away to Sanae's family's cabin to what looks to be a "couple's weekend" for Sanae and a chance for Hanabi to get away from her own feelings after being rejected by Kanai only to have to put up with Sanae's cousin Atsuya already being at the cabin much to Sanae's consternation and Hanabi's befuddlement. What happens is a long and drawn out break up of Sanae and Hanabi's not quite relationship and hints at a possible relationship between Atsuya and Sanae. While Mugi continues his "relationship" with Akane. This episode tried to make me care about Hanabi and Sanae and honestly if a series still cannot convince me of the authenticity of character's actions nine episodes in it's hard to think I ever will be convinced. Sanae is still weirdly possessive (I don't know if I've every talked about her characterization in detail before)of Hanabi but never feels like a character that authentically understands the difference between admiration, love, and lust one could chalk this up to her being young but the cardinal sin of this series has been an inauthenticity and almost solipsistic obsession with the character's inner life. While trying to endue Hanabi with some sense of nobility is also superficial as it all circles back to how Hanabi feels making for a bland and turgid experience about a character I can not be bothered to even care about as ultimately the entire narrative is about her feelings but not in anyway that says anything profound about human condition. This is simply the reverse scared side of the same coin that a series like Socrates in Love or Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Soraabout. While Scum's Wish simply reverses the purity of love and focuses on the broken sexuality of the charcters without any real insight. This is especially true of Akane who is now guilty of a criminal act on top of being wanton Akane even though she is only in the last few minutes of the episode has all the presence of an black cloaked melodrama villain it's hard to take her seriously at all and I think psychologizing her depravity takes away any real responsibility for her actions some people simply do evil because they want to do evil not out of compulsion or brokenness but simply because they can. It's gard to watch this series becuese it tries to be profound but simply having broken people and sex does not make a series profound or mature it just fills it with broken people and sex. While I'm not denying that one could find deeper meaning in this series that is more because the viewer is trying to find that profundity. Taken for what it is and as it is presented this is simply Sundome with more introspection. The diffrince between Scum's Wish ad a series like Hand Shakers is while Hand Shakers is admittedly awful as far as every aspect of the series is concerned it is at least enertaingly bad. Scum's Wish is simply self important and offensive.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Scum's Wish Episode Eight Review

With episode Mugi and Hanabi finally work up the courage respective crushes while Sanae's cousin shows up Atsuya Kirishima to attend the same cram school as Sanae only to interior monologue about the crush he has on his cousin and generally be awkward and stilted. This was probably the best episode of the series I've seen none of that fixes the horrendous solipsistic character writing and saying it's the best episode of this series doesn't mean that I think it's good it's the episode that's made me the least angry so far. Atsuya is a bumbling bundle of social awkwardness and the conversation between him and Sanae has all the realism of an overheated Tumblr post on gender that comes from a place of crackling ignorance. While Mugi actually works up the courage to confess to Akane and well Akane being who she is simply thinks of him as a new plaything for her to emotionally use. It's shallow and cheap but than again that has pretty much been Akane's character an over the top villain that is missing all but the requisite black hat to make in glaringly obvious. Mugi has a twinge of guilt as the series feels the need to throw the "fake romance turns into real romance" cliché between Mugi and Hanabi. While Hanabi continues to polish her memories of Kanai who honestly feels like the male version of Nana Komatsu in that in his case he feels like a character from a Shojo Manga plopped into an cynical Seinen Manga. Much like how Nana felt like an idealistic Shojo heroine put in a realistic Shojo Manga. I still like Kanai but he's just kind of an outlier and all I know about him is how Hanabi perceives and the possibly fictional encounter he has had with Akane. While Atsuya is kind of simply in the way for no real reason to add drama but who knows at only four episodes left either things will speed up way fast or slow down rather way I'll be thankful when this travesty is over.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Scum's Wish Episode 7 Review

Moka and Mugi's big date make up the bulk of the episode with all of the standard date spots planned by Moka as a final send off to her doomed love for childhood friend meanwhile Hanabi's relationship with Akane's former pupil sputters and stops when he pressures Hanabi to have sex with him. While Moka and Mugi's date ends back at Mugi's house only with Mugi unable to "seal the deal" with a scared and self conscious Moka with the episode ending on Mugi and Hanabi determined to confess their feelings to their intended. Wow I wanted to like this episode parts of Moka's characterization gave me flashes of Ayumi Yamada from honey and Clover but whereas in that series Ayumi hung on to her hopeless love and this gave her some sense of nobility in her fruitless love. Moka sadly like any of the other characters in this series has become yet another self-absorbed solipsist. The entire obvious façade being shown to be just that a façade Moka has constructed. Again I don't writing about this enjoyable but as long as people want hold this type of morally nihilistic drivel is held up as some kind of profound statement about the human condition I feel duty to fight back against that. this series is simply Master of The Martial Heart with love as opposed to an martial arts tournament as major plot device. I really wanted to like this episode but when bitter cynicism is confused for maturity or depth of character writing I can't really say anything good. I hate to sound like a priggish moralist but this series has no moral center to hold it is simply a workmanlike directed series of glimpse into a moral abyss that is neither profound nor though provoking much like Sundome this episode is obsessed with the physical act as opposed to previous episodes in which the characters are so introspective as to be divorced from their own bodies. It goes the exact other wrong way in overemphasis by the time this over I be happy if I even end up with an passible narrative instead of these unconnected interior monologues and overblown symbolism