September 27, 2016
September 26, 2016
One of these is the bottom of the Pacific Ocean (Haifuri) and the other is the bottom of hyperspace (Bodacious Space Pirates movie). Interesting how similar they look, isn't it?
Maybe there's an access point to hyperspace at the bottom of the Pacific! (Bermuda triangle, poop.)
September 24, 2016
So the last episode came out, and you're probably (not) wondering what the series was about. I didn't watch it all but I watched enough to get a pretty good idea.
Good: Lots of super powered girls flying around tossing energy bolts all over the place.
Good: The girls are cute and nicely shaped.
Good: No lolis.
Good: Bathing scenes. LOTS of bathing scenes. Ep 12 was the only one that didn't have a bathing scene. I expected that they'd toss one in at the very end as a nudity curtain call, but they surprised me. Anyway, ep 12 had several girls getting MCSA'ed so there were still Buy the BD shots. I swear this show has more screen minutes in the bath than any other series I can think of. (Even more than Popotan!) In fact, more total screen minutes than any three other series I can think of, combined.
Good: Tamura Yukari did the voice of Amane. It sounded enough like Nanoha that I recognized her instantly but not so much as to make the character unbelievable. (There were plenty enough other reasons to disbelieve the character.) I really like her work and she hasn't been getting enough in recent years. It's nice that she's managing to break out of being typecast.
Good: The enemy is so abstract that there's no trace of guilt when seeing the girls shooting and destroying them. It's not even clear that the enemy is alive, so it may not even be killing.
Bad: The real story. At the beginning it would be easy enough to think that the story is about alien invasion, but it's actually about shoujo angst. Waah! I'm lonely! I'm not special and people ignore me! I wanna be a star and have people worship me! Waah! All six major characters go through that, and in particular they express their resentment towards Amane (the alpha driver for the team) because they are low ranked and they don't think she's feeding them enough power to be stars. So then Amane crashes and gets captured and isn't around any more, and we get ten episodes of the other five coming to realize just how much they like and trust and need Amane -- and then in the last episode all that comes together and their newly positive feelings save her, and the six working together again, finally clear of all the resentment and angst, kick the butt of the enemy.
Man, I tell you: if it weren't for the copious fan service I'd think this show was targetted at grade school girls. The only thing that can save five universes is our friendship with each other!
Anyway, it's apparent that the characterization and the story are simply a coat rack onto which they are hanging lots of fan service and it only had to be elaborate enough so that it didn't seem to be TOTALLY pandering -- even though it is.
It's the first series directing job for the director. He has a long track record in production, doing character designs and episode directing but this is his first series. I can't claim it's a success but it's clear he did what he was told to do so I can't say it's a bad job. The massive flaws with the series aren't his fault. Anyway, everyone has to start somewhere and I think it's good enough so he'll get other chances, and maybe next time he'll be able to do something better.
I'm not sure I believe that the BDs will sell well. The first will, but they give away the store in the first episode (EVERY major character has a bath scene) and it's not clear that customers will shell out to see all the same girls naked again, five more times. Oh, they'll sell some, but the first one will sell the most.
Verdict: Completely forgettable -- until the first BD comes out.
Rewatch? Surely you jest; it wasn't even worth watching the first time. (And I didn't watch it all.)
September 22, 2016
Part of the "Girls in combat machines" genre is that the weapon systems they use should be accurate and based on existing equipment (unless it's mechas, in which case blah).
So the tanks in Girls und Panzer are actual tanks which fought in WWII or were deployed but didn't see combat. And in High School Fleet the ships we see are all actual designs from the era (or modern ships).
Haifuri is an alternate timeline. For one thing, Japan didn't participate in WWII. For another, in that timeline heavier-than-air aircraft were never developed. There are blimps, but no airplanes and no helicopters. Which leads in some cases to anachronisms (like why Musashi has anti-aircraft batteries) but let that pass.
A lot of the ships in the series actually did exist. Harekaze is completely fictional; there never was such a ship. But it's based on the Kagerou-class which really did exist, and were excellent ships. Like most destroyers their best weapon was their torpedoes, and like most Japanese destroyers the Kagerou's carried the Long Lance, the best torpedo of the early war.
The Blue Mermaids use ships which are based on the American Independence-class littoral combat ships. Modern Japan doesn't have anything like that, but they look really cool and really modern so I'm not surprised that the director decided to poach them. Trimarans are awesome.
And there's these things, which they call "skippers". I want to call them "water motorcycles" but of course they aren't. I don't recognize them. It looks like they're hydrofoils, and it looks like they're propelled by a pair of baby jet engines. Given that everything else in the show is realistic, are these based on something real?
September 19, 2016
America seems to have its own Loony Party now. They call themselves the Greens. These are the people who think we can run the country entirely on solar power and wind power if only they can manage to force people to stop using fossil fuels. (And I'm not going to go into why that's idiocy. I really hate writing about "renewable energy".)
Today their candidate for President, Jill Stein, said that no one should be permitted to run for President unless they've spent time in prison.
You don't suppose we could get going on letting Hillary get her qualifications in, do you?
September 18, 2016
Minami-san is one of the most interesting characters in Haifuri and probably the most important after Misaki kanchou. She arguably contributed more to the victory than any other single person in the entire show.
Which is all the more impressive because she's only 12 years old. All her crewmates are 16, being first-year highschool. Minami is a super-genius and skipped a bunch of grades so as to enter and graduate from University. I am not actually sure if she's a finished doctor or merely a pre-med graduate, but if she isn't legally a doctor it's clear she's got the knowledge and skill. So she checks out some people rescued from a sinking ship.
She's got brains and she's got guts. Hiding under a bed in sick-bay actually was intelligent in this particular moment:
The way things turned out, the only way to save the crew of some of the ships is to board, and she's a necessary part of the boarding party.
She's loaded up and ready to rumble.
Well, she doesn't actually rumble. It's the job of the other four to bring down opposing crew, so that she can inject each one with the drug she's created.
If anyone beyond the captain gets a decoration or a personal commendation, Minami-san certainly will be among them.
September 16, 2016
Don reports that there's going to be a new entry in Girls und Panzer. Not yet clear if they're talking about a movie, or an OVA, or a new series.
Sequels are hit-and-miss. Sometimes the basic series concept can support innumerable sequels, or at least the customer base will. There have been about 47 Gundam series, and maybe 39 Pretty Cures. Case Closed has run an astounding 833 episodes so far plus more than 20 movies.
But sometimes the fundamental story idea just can't reasonably be stretched into a sequel, and they try anyway and bomb. There was an American TV series called Twin Peaks, which was a mystery story about a murdered girl, and at the end of the first season they revealed who the killer was and wrapped up the mystery. Problem was it got fantastic ratings, and the network paid for another season. And there wasn't any more story to tell. They did do another season but it stunk.
Sometimes it can't be reasonably stretched to another season and they recognize that fact and do something else instead. That's what happened with Mahou Tsukai Tai. The OVA was outstanding and at the end the aliens left and promised never to return. There were hooks that looked like they were trying to leave the door open for the aliens to return. But when they did a sequel, they told an entirely different story, that had nothing to do with the aliens. And it was really good, too.
Sometimes there's enough story for a couple of seasons, even three. I'm glad we got three seasons of Dog Days and I enjoyed them all. I see enough story potential there for one more, if they choose to do it. (Basically: what and where do all the demon swords come from, and can we end it?) But if they don't do another season, I'll be fine with what we have.
I'll take anything they want to give me in the Nanohaverse. It was a disappointment that VIVID didn't finish the story, and they don't seem to want to continue it. The new show coming up this fall (Vivid STRIKE) is placed in the same era as VIVID but isn't a continuation of that story, so far as I can tell. (Team Nakajima are in it but the story isn't centrally about them.)
I'll take a new Mouretsu Pirates series too, please. Plenty of story there left to tell.
Which brings us to Girls und Panzer. The plot driver for the TV series was two-fold:
For the movie they used the same plot hook. The sleazy bureaucrat said,
So if there was going to be another OVA, what would it be? Actually, they did to another half-hour OVA; it was included on the BD for the movie and it was about Alice Shimada visiting Ooarai. Basically a comedy, and it worked.
But for the upcoming show, I don't see what they could do that would actually make sense. They can't go back to the "OMG the school will close" well for a third time because it would be a ripoff. There are a lot of stories which could be told about those girls, but it isn't obvious how senshadou would be central to them. For instance, Miho could reconcile with Shiho; it would be a huge change for Shiho but it's not entirely implausible.
For the upcoming professional league, someone could scout Miho for one of the pro-teams. (I think it's a foregone conclusion that someone will considering everything Miho has done so far; she's definitely an ace.) But they wouldn't scout the entire Ooarai team, so the audience wouldn't get to visit Rabbit team again, or Anteater, or Hippo, or Leopon, or any of the other eccentric groups which are as much a part of this series as Miho is. They might not even scout Miho's crew from Anko.
I don't see it. Unless someone gives me a tremendously pleasant surprise, I'm afraid this new show is going to be really derivative and stale.
So give me more Vivio. Give me more Natsu and Lucy. But I think I don't want any more Girls und Panzer.
September 13, 2016
There are basically two different attractions to this series. First, there are hyper-powerful girls fighting spectacular battles, firing energy bolts at their opponents. I always like that.
Second, there are lots of rather explicit sex scenes. They're about as
explicit as they can be without the show becoming hentai and requiring lots of
censorship under Japanese law and being sold under a plain brown wrapper.
You might be surprised to learn that I always skip through those parts. The reason is that while it isn't exactly rape, it isn't really consensual either. It's Maria's fault.
Maria is a succubus, and of course succubi are all about sex. That's what they do; that's what they are. Maria has cast "master-servant" spells on all the women bonding them to Our Hero, and if they have fulfilling sex with him they powerup. Which isn't exactly a new concept, but this show handles it somewhat better than most. There are side effects of this spell which Maria doesn't bother telling anyone about until they come up, and she didn't do that spell for herself, mainly because she doesn't need to. As a succubus, hot-and-heavy sex has always powered her up. And she's ready, any time, any place. (Also, she has a super-saiyajin mode for real emergencies.)
Anyway, after most of the women have taken on this spell, every time the team faces a huge challenge and has ample warning, then they have an orgy the night before. Which I always skip.
No one except Maria (on the left) looks eager, do they? They're all doing
it voluntarily, but not for the right reasons. Our Hero (not included in that
picture) has about the same attitude; he does it, but he doesn't really want to
because he's not a lech and he's got too much other stuff on his mind. So
usually it's Maria that gets everyone together for it. And no one really resists too much because they don't want to die in the upcoming battle.
Anyway, in addition to all the other things you'd expect from a succubus, Maria is also a voyeur, and I really like the fact that her "bland name" camera is NOSY, a beautiful pun.
September 12, 2016
The basic plotline of Ange Vierge seems to be the same, told many times about different girls. Sometimes it takes one episode, sometimes it takes two.
Girl Of The Week sits in the bath, accompanied by fog and gratuitous beams of light, and angsts about how she was mean to Amane (the "Alpha Driver", also the human player avatar, currently locked inside a giant crystal) and about how someone she knows from her own dimension has turned to the dark side and represents a mortal danger. She may be accompanied in the bath by one or more other girls from her team, and ultimately GOTW decides she has to return home and take on the Dark Side Girl (easily recognized, because her eyes glow red). There's a tremendous battle, interleaved with scenes back at the fortress of other girls bathing, and in the end GOTW wins and the Dark Side Girl's eyes stop glowing red and she stops being of the Dark Side.
Each of the five girls of the team ultimately have to go through this. Ep 10 was the fourth, the girls from the green world named Nya. In her case it wasn't so much that she couldn't defeat Dark Side Girl as that she couldn't work up the will to let loose. Finally she did, leaving an immense crater with DSG laying (otherwise unharmed) at the bottom of it.
The next-ep trailer says ep 11 is going to be the same thing, this time for Saya.
Every episode has copious baths. I think those girls spend two thirds of their free time bathing. And I think it's a foregone conclusion that the BDs are going to be decensored. For instance, I bet these four aren't wearing convenient shirts and shorts in the BD version.
They were bathing and got attacked and tried to fight back, and convenient yellow glowing clothing appeared to make it so they didn't have to fight shrouded in fog. I haven't got the slightest doubt the yellow clothing won't be on the BD. Or the towel, and the one on the right won't be covered so thoroughly in bindings. (Yeah, they lost and got captured.)
This continues to contend with HxH for the pandering trophy for this season and though I haven't watched anything at all of HxH I think Ange Vierge isn't winning. But in terms of quantity Buy-the-BD shots it is certainly doing its best.
In terms of how it ends, my guess now is that all five end up holding hands in a circle around Amane's crystal and firing up their power, which will feed to Amane and cause her crystal to shatter, freeing her. Then the team will take on a BigBad and win, and the crisis will be averted, temporarily. But the war will go on. Of course. (If the war ended, there wouldn't be any reason for you to buy cards and help fight it!)
September 09, 2016
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