Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My Monster Secret Volume 10 Review

Leading to the ending of a first arc and the beginning of a new relationship between Youko and Asahi while also having friends sabotage his attempts to make things right. Also an entire storyline where Akari becomes a local celebrity after Akane transforms into her and becomes the Middle-Aged Single Magical Girl with a drinking problem. That ends up getting turned into a TV show while Akari still harbors delusions about her literal prince on a white horse coming for her. While Shimada ends up pathetically attached Ryo who is only using him as a meal ticket. If anything this volume had probably the best set up in the series with Akane being unusealy nice to Akari. Before what Akari has actually done is brought to Akane's attention seeing the usual self-absorbed Akane in many being obsequiously nice to a perplexed Akari. Tthan there the theme song for Middle-Aged Girl Magical Akalyn which plays up Akari's hard drinking spinster persona on national TV. IT's not all laughing at other people's pain (except Shimada) as the glacially paced almost romance fianly begins after a few false starts and an impromptu confession from Nagisa and rumors about Asahi essentaly becomeing a harem protgainst after a slew of rumors fly about. To Yuko being honest with herself in a moment that has a great use of paneling building up to the emotional crsendo of the mutial confession between the two. Even Asahi confessing that he finds all of Youko's little Vampire tics cute. It's adorable and the awkward meet-up after the fact makes it all the more adorable. Continues to have crisp comic timeing and a loveable gorup of dense and dimwitted charcters.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Water Dragon's Bride Volume Five Review

Court intrigue repressed feelings and slow-dawning feelings abound along with assassination plots and sympathetic magic. Asahi continues to try and figure out how to protect the village while also almost getting abducted for the second time by Kogahiko. While The Water Dragon God finds himself beginning to feel emotions he did not know possible to feel for Asahi while Subaru finally makes the plainly obvious abundantly clear as concerns his feelings for Asahi. If anything this volume feels more like a slow revelation of The Water Dragon God as a character finding within himself emotions that he did not think possible while Asahi is still very much the pure and self-sacrificing maiden. She is learning a kind of implicit trust in The Water Dragon God made abundantly clear when Kogahiko attempts to kidnap Asahi and Asahi thinks that she never really had to worry because Water Dragon God would be there for her. Made even more obvious by his receiving of Asahi's flower and given that action's significance in the fertility festival if that foreshadows some later story development I do not know. Yet to see the often aloof and detached Water dragon God give into petty jealousies and self-revelation of his own slow growing fondness for Asahi is if nothing else something to behold. Mostly because Toma-Sensei sees fit to do this in subtle changes to Water Dragon God's facial expressions. Or the softening of his eyes from the icy disinterested gaze he normally has a more emotive look filled with subtle desire for his betrothed. This use of showing the emotional growth of the characters through subtle shot progression and sparse interior monologue makes for a title that is subtle and at times wistful. While also unafraid to have large emotive events as well.

Dreamin' Sun Volume 6 Review

Shimana becomes wracked with anxiety after learning of Taiga's previous relationship with a teacher at Shimana's school which Shimana thinks is a romantic attachment of some kind despite Taiga's denial of it being anything like that and instead simply being simple admiration. While Zen continues to carry a torch for Shimana and even at one point tries to get Shimana to go out with him. Still, Shimana struggles with her remaining feelings for Taiga and Taiga simply does not know how to feel about women in general and dating the significantly much younger Shimana and his own latent anxieties about women in general. Very much a volume dedicated to the internal struggles of a relationship what to do when you have broken up when your feelings still run hot for an ex or you worry about the past of your significant other. The interiority and cerebral nature of the story make it thoughtful and Shimana while struggling with her remaining feelings for Taiga and the uncertain status of their relationship for most of the volume. It captures all the troubles of being in love but also consumed with jealousy as well. While Taiga struggles with a brittle cynicism and withering contempt/fear of women. It's very much a relationship that is strange not for the most part due to the age difference but mostly that both feel so emotionally immature and unsure. It's painful to watch the two flounder about in their recriminations and unspoken feelings and yet also honest. The focus on the aftermath of the relationship is what makes for such a compelling volume continuing to develop the inner lives of Shimana and Taiga while also keeping the right amount of comedy as well to keep it from being oppressively morose. While design-wise Takano-Sensei's use of framing and page design with tight close-ups close-cropped boxes and rectangles to give it all an emotionally claustrophobic feel in some scenes and deep intimacy in others. Showing a freer and more free-form use of the visual grammar. While avoiding the sometimes cramped and old-fashioned design elements that existed in earlier volumes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Waiting For Spring Volume Five Review

Mitsuki and the boys go on a group outing to an Amusement Park while Mitsuki tries and fails at using various lucky charms to confess her feelings to Asakura while also learning Asakura had a previous though short-lived relationship with a girl that ended because he couldn't commit emotionally or devote the attention he felt she deserved given his single-minded interest in Basketball. This confession both leads to an almost kiss between Asakura and Mitsuki while also showing them bonding overplaying catch with a basketball-painted ping-pong ball. Feeling like a non-verbal form of communication that despite Mitsuki's sometimes awkward and shy nature she can sometimes be at ease with Asakura. Not to be outdone Aya-Chan decides to take Mitsuki on an almost-date as friends with Mitsuki although Aya's feelings are much more serious that Mitsuki realizes. While Mitsuki and Asakura grow closer and Mitsuki finds herself able to enjoy others company and not second-guess herself. While the gauntlet has been thrown down by Aya who plans to make himself Asakura's rival for Mitsuki's feelings. While continuing to have character development that is nuanced, multi-faceted, and introspective. While also balancing romance and comedy with the simple hum of everyday life. This was a volume that as much as the writing continues to articulate hard to explain emotions like Aya's reasons behind pretending to be a girl for so long with Mitsuki coming from a place of always wanting to be very much her "knight in shining armor" while hiding his own emotional pain behind bravado and having those protective feelings turn into a deep love for his childhood friend. It's the technical design aspects that blew me away from scene framing blocking of characters use of reflection close-ups use of reverse shots perspective non-verbal intimacy in character design even panel layout to express emotion or how a scene feels or use of negative space. It's the craftsmanship of the layout and design that made this volume as one could very easily not read the dialogue and still understand what was happening from body language non-verbal cues and facial expressions. Winning at both continuing to realistically portray the give and take of relationships and first love while also conveying it through the visual mood and tone of character design and panel and page layout among other aspects of the visual design. Still a great read for those that want a smartly written and drawn Shojo Manga that never feels too pandering or salacious.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Blog Update: The Begining of The End

Figured I would at least give a brief update on the state of the blog since the Spring 2018 Anime season is upon us and I've been doing much personal reflection on where I plan to go in my personal life in the coming years. As far as any kind of seasonal first impressions, best and worst Anime of the season or best and worst Manga and Anime of the year lists are concerned those are no longer going to continue for the foreseeable future of the blog. As I now only subscribe to one Anime Streaming service and that is Hidive and only follow twelve series and that will go down to a total of five once Generation Witch, My Monster Secret: "Actually, I am...", Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty, Juana and the Dragonewt's Seven Kingdoms, Girls' Last Tour, and Dreamin' Sun end going back up to six once Fruits Basket Another is added to the reading list. As opposed to thirty-one series in total I was following also no more Light Novels I gave it the old college try and between the glacial release schedule for series and the cost it's not something I could see myself committing to any longer. I no longer have a Crunchyroll account or a Netflix account mostly because those both became things I spent far too much time on. To the detriment of far more important things in my life. As well misgivings about Crunchyroll as a company it's strange quasi-celebrity culture around members of its staff and a strange cadre of almost bought and paid for reviewers along with the intense self-promotion which rubbed me the wrong way. As well as using their social media presence to support political causes I did not agree with and felt had little to nothing to do with the company actually did and smacked of virtue signaling this is not that Crunchyroll was being disingenuous though. Also as I've never been particularly good at financial stewardship part of this is my own impulsive nature and part of this is for lack of a better term the acquisitive nature of fan culture in general. So I removed myself from the fan culture quit following companies I no longer buy things from on Social Media and pretty much got away from all forms of interaction with wider fandom. In short, I've become what the Japanese term a Sotsugyoushitahito (Graduated Person). That being said this is not some idea of "I'm too old for this" or that I've "matured" as the few positive experiences I've had with people online and in real life have been some of the most adult and mature conversations about media I've had. That being said I am very much a "pink duck" as an Evangelical Fundamentalist in a wider Anime fandom that seems to be more and more left leaning and tends toward an Intersectional view of humanity. This is not to play the victim but I've had my personal motives and words impugned and misrepresented. In the past, I've had my religious beliefs represented as something "hateful". Christ's teaching on human sexuality ignored or put at odds with a Christ of the commenter's own creation when something that was intended as sarcasm was misinterpreted as a serious comment involving Canadian Obscenity and Hate Crime law. Made the unknowing violater of overly broad comment rules on blogs. This is not to be vindictive or play of my experience as "sour grapes" simply observations of things I've had happen in the past that strike me as still to a certain degree very painful though I have long come to terms with it have forgiven those involved long ago. I even deleted my Anime News Network forum account as I frankly felt the forum culture had been morally dry rotted on various issues (specifically people arguing for "consensual incest" and seemingly no moral condemnation or moderation on it). I covered this in a long post on Twitter and I wish ANN well as a company but in many ways, I feel with their editorial stances and those in charge it is on a crash course to becoming what NeoGAF was before it's demise but I digress. I've also quit being a member of The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund as I feel it has become a Stalking Horse for an agenda I can not approve of. if I could compare this to anything it would be comparable to William F. Buckley Jr.'s parting Amnesty International. That is a sincere difference of belief. So needless to say I will be almost completely out of the loop on news and views and after the two-year lock-in price rate I have on Hidive I may cancel that as well. What content goes on this blog will be Manga reviews of series I am currently following and only that. This is not as I have done the past taking a break, dealing with mental health issues, or trying square away my spiritual life because once the last of the series I follow ends. I'm done with this blog I will simply keep it up as a grave marker to a time in my life. To reiterate no Streaming Anime related content will be going on this blog anymore. Nor license acquisition thought posts simply reviews for the twelve series I am currently following and when it gets to six those series and then when those series simply keeping the un-updated version of the blog I now have up as a grave marker. It's not easy to come to this point but it had to be done as I was falling into a place of spiritual lethargy and frankly becoming a person I didn't like anymore due to the "scene politics" and a vast chasm in World View and Presuppositional frameworks. So the days of the blog are numbered as to how long it will last it is only dependent on how long the series I am following last. No hard feeling against anybody differences of opinion where had in some contexts but life goes on. Postscript: I no longer have a HiDive subscription as I was only using it for a handful of shows and the Spring Simulcast shows the service has do not look that exciting as well as it being $59.88 a year I could better allocate and save to something more lasting. As well as the $99 a year for Amazon Prime serving my entertainment wants more than adequately.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty Volume 3 Review

Tetsu continues to try and socialize Shizu while hiding the fact that he's receiving financial compensation for it from Shizu's mother. While focusing in parts on Shizu getting to experience normal everyday things for the first time leading to such adorable moments as her walking in place just to experience the sound of school shoes walking on the school floor.For the most part, the volume is used to develop Tetsu's character. Having been a rather two-dimensional mixture of slow dawning romantic feelings and tight-fisted penny-pincher. Instead of showing that his avariciousness may come more from some sort of hero complex than merely being obsessed with money for its own sake. In fact the whole backstory of Tetsu's involvement in soccer and leaving the soccer team. Show a conflicted side to him that is refreshing given how seemingly stale his character could have become if this storyline had not been explored. Still secrets and half-truths loom over Tetsu's relationship with Shizu like the proverbial Sword of Damocles. With Mirei making a re-appearance to be the teller of hard truths to Tetsu as she still finds him dishonest and disingenuous. Maturing our protagonist and giving Shizu some agency make the story richer in this volume and while it feels the trajectory of the story will be one of slow dawning romance between Tetsu and Shizu. Having a story arc express the past of the character makes for a story that is more of a study of characters than a mere collection of problems to be fixed by some vague appeal to love or platitudes about friendship. the use of page layout in some scenes is able to give a feel of three dimensions of spatial depth given the point of view. Or simply allowing a scene to hold on a character and give the audience a chance to be engulfed by the emotion while avoiding glacial pacing or Andrei Tarkovsky like long takes of simple everyday experiences. While the prominent use of flashback reminded me of the volumes long story arc in Kare Kano which was actually one of my favorite parts of the series. With strong interiority and self-reflective moments, the series is maturing continually.

Golden Kamuy Volume 4 Review

With wintery backgrounds that leave the audience with a chill painstakingly drawn food and an expanding rouge's gallery volume, four of Golden Kamuy continues to impress with Noda-Sensei's eye for detail combined with crisp nuanced character writing. Particularly Tsurumi who goes from being a mentally unstable war veteran with a devoted band of followers to an Anti-Villain seeking to provide for those crushed under the wheels of modernization or forgotten by the military establishment. Then there's Tatsuma Ushiyama who is simply a human tank powered by his appetite for sex and violence at one point Judo sweeping a draft horse put in his way. While Hijikata continues to set his plan in motion and the groundwork is laid a potential fight between Hijikata and Tsurumi in latter volumes which I'm sure if it happens will be a sight to behold. Still, it's hard to find new ways to praise the volume from its odd little bits of comedy such as Shiraishi luminescent blushing and sparkling over a captured Tanuki. To the methodical and quiet planning on how to capture a Steller's Sea Eagle and prepare its claws for eating which again oddly Noda-Sensei is able the unlikely of thing look appetizing simply by the attention to detail in the eagle claws. While Kazuo Henmi the infamous serial killer is introduced in the last chapter a blood-curdling study in the depravity of man with his narration of why he became a killer adding only more to the grim amoral mindset of Henmi. Also, the volume does go back a little and establish Toraji and Umeko's bond as well as Toraji and Sugimoto's friendship. Giving more reason to care for Sugimoto's motivation to do right by his friend and his Widow. In conclusion another strong volume in this hardboiled adventure tale which makes it hard to write about as it's very easy to simply repeat it over and over that this series is good and you should read it. Yet I figure that's the best kind of problem for a series to have that the quality never dips nothing feels rushed or hurried and in short craftsmanship wins out over mere escapism.