January 13, 2016

Google Search String of the Day

I just received a refer from Google for this search:

why+isn't+Lynette+Bishop+wearing+pants

Indeed. Very good question, my son...

UPDATE: And now for something completely different: My hovercraft is full of eels.

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Musaigen no Phantom World -- ep 2

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I'm having distinctly mixed feelings about this show.

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First the bad: I've never been a fan of comedic violence, and this has a lot of it. Haruhiko abuses Ruru, and Mai abuses Haruhiko. It's supposed to be funny but I don't think it is. (Chuck Jones can do it and make me laugh, but these guys aren't that good.)

And "the team of losers who keep screwing up" doesn't really work for me. Of course it's intended as a low point out of which they climb, but I wouldn't mind if they do the climbing sooner rather than later.

In particular, I wish Haruhiko wasn't such a turkey. For instance, in this episode he revealed a new ability: he can summon phantoms to work for him. Well, sort of. This was what he wanted:

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This was what he got:

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The good: I have to admit it's a pleasure to spend time with Mai. We're due for a swimsuit episode and I'm looking forward to that, too. (I have simple tastes.) And in general the art in this series is excellent, and not just of the girls.

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And there's an interesting story concept here which is pretty deep and complicated. The series description says that we're due for a plot whiplash before it's all over, and from what I'm seeing it could be a doozy. Whatever it is, I'm sure it involves the loli with the teddy bear.

They're laying out a lot of mysteries without shining spotlights on them, which is a sign of mature story telling. (Too many directors will put in a plot point and then point at it and shout HEY LOOK AT THAT THING I JUST DID.)

The biggest mystery for me is Ruru, because I have the distinct impression that there is more to her than she's letting on, and it's probably sinister. After they defeated the robot in this episode, she flew over and found that small gizmo and brought it back to Haruhiko, and she didn't really have to search. She knew it was there and knew she wanted him to have it. What is it? (We're probably going to learn more about it next episode.)

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Why is she hanging around him, anyway? She plays the clown, but is that all there is to her? She doesn't stay in his home at night; she flies away and goes somewhere else. Where? Why? But she's back every morning (according to the first episode) and goes through his morning routine (teeth brushing etc.) with him. So what's her deal?

And, of course, there's a huge mystery about The Event ten years previously. Just what were they doing in that factory? Was it really a terrorist bomb that released the virus, or something else? Was it really a virus that caused all this, or something else? And is this really about teleology? How can things that humans imagine actually cause physical damage, and hurt people, and move things around?

Are we in full-scale Bishop Berkeley mode here? A tree falling in the forest when there's no one around doesn't make a sound and in fact doesn't even exist unless a human is looking at it? The opening of the first episode suggest that may be the case.

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Now a grand edifice like this could collapse in an ill-conceived heap but it could also end up being really intriguing and thought provoking. And in the mean time we can ogle Mai.

So I think I'll stick with it for a while yet.

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January 11, 2016

Winter 2016 -- the final score

So from the shows I wanted to sample, here's how it came out:

WATCH:
Gate (Friday)

CONTINUE:
Musaigen no Phantom World (Wednesday)
Luck and Logic (Saturday)

DUMP:
Dagashi Kashi
Oshiete! Galko-chan
Fairy Tail Zero
Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara
Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

I considered watching another episode of Dagashi Kashi but it isn't aging well. I just can't see it going anywhere.

Even so, one solid hit and two good possibilities isn't a bad result. Damned sight better than the season that just ended, I'll say that.

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Finishing the list

So let's wrap up all the other shows I wanted to sample.

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Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm -- aka "flying shoes". You'd think a show about people who can fly would be more interesting, wouldn't you? The big problem is the characterization. The main character is a girl named Asuka, and she's the uber-ditz. Thoroughly annoying and totally unsympathetic. We can't blame the seiyuu for this, either; she's very experienced (she was Yoshika in Strike Witches, for instance) and quite capable of doing strong, sympathetic, girl parts (Anzu in Girls und Panzer, Hime in Yozakura Quartet). And the art doesn't make up for it, and none of the other characters are interesting either. Fail.

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Luck and Logic -- In the first minute I was ready to dump this as a heavily disguised mech show. And that's sort of what it is, kind of. But there are enough differences so as to not outright drive me away. It is, of course, a harem show. Our Hero is the only guy, and becomes part of a team with four girls and five "covenanters" all of whom are female. They didn't pack the episode with exposition, which was nice. There was actually quite a lot but they disguised it well -- "Show, don't Tell". There are rare teenagers called Logicalists who have the ability to form a covenant with a magical? being called a covenanter and exercise super powers. This power manifests at puberty and begins to fade at adulthood, so it's yet another "teenagers save the world" show, dusty as that is. But Our Hero isn't a klutz, though he also doesn't seem to be a Marty Stu. He was a logicalist earlier and was present at some sort of titanic battle two years ago in Hong Kong, where he did something called "Over Trance", and as a result of that battle he lost his power. However, today (in the show) he gets it back because a Covenanter named Athena has sought him out to be his partner. There's nothing radically innovative in the story, to say the least, but the pieces fit nicely and the animation was excellent. I'll give it another episode, at least.

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Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara -- is a lolicon show in 4 minute episodes, with lots of closeups of the loli's panties. No thanks.

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Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut -- is Infinite Stratos in magical drag. Our Hero is the only boy at a school for girls to become "Drag-knights", which means they fight using "Machine Dragons". It's all very familiar.

Fairy Tail Zero -- Unfortunately, it's taking the broadcast slot that was used by Fairy Tail, which is suspended for, I assume, 1 cour. The Fairy Tail anime has reached the end of chapter 416. Chapter 417 is filler. And there's a 1 year skip before chapter 418. Chapters 449-451 and a couple of others tell the back story of Mavis and Zeref, and it looks like they're telling that story, in a more extended form, in Fairy Tail Zero. Once it's done, we'll pick back up with chapter 418, presumably. But I'm not interested, so I probably won't watch it.

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January 09, 2016

Oshiete! Galko-chan -- FAIL

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Episodes are seven and a half minutes. I got one minute into the first episode and then quit. NOT FOR ME, and I don't care how she looks.

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Dagashi Kashi -- ep 1

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It's a gag show, nominally divided into four parts. It's also a farce. Which isn't necessarily bad, if it's done well. A good farce will have a sympathetic sane character in the middle, surrounded by chaos and people who are nuts, which pretty well describes this.

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Our hero is Kokonotsu, a high school boy living in the sticks, in the rear of a candy shop with his father who runs the place. Dad wants Kokonotsu to take over the business, which goes back 9 generations or so it is claimed. But Kokonotsu doesn't want that; he wants to be a mangaka. So they tend to fight about it.

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One day a strange girl shows up in the store. Her name is Hotaru. She marches to her own drummer, who misses a few beats, if you know what I mean. She's actually there looking for Dad. She is the daughter of the head of a major candy company, and they want to hire Kokonotsu's dad. But he won't leave unless he's sure the candy store will continue to be open, which means Kokonotsu has to agree to keep running it. And so it become Hotaru's mission to convince Kokonotsu to agree.

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And there are two more characters: Kokonotsu's best friend Tou and Tou's younger sister Saya. They run a cafe. Saya has a crush on Kokonotsu; that's her job in the story. Tou's job is to tease her about it and to get clobbered by her. She's a tsundere but her tsun-tsun mode is passive-aggressive towards Kokonotsu. Her brother gets the violence.

So far it's following the standard farce recipe and doing it pretty well. What I didn't expect is that it's a fan-service show. In addition to being nuts, Hotaru is also built. And through a plot machination that doesn't bear repeating Saya and Hotaru meet after Hotaru runs off the road and ends up in the mud of a rice paddy. Saya takes her home and lets her shower, and Tou walks in on her, and she doesn't scream and get angry. Saya does that for her.

Um, NSFW below the fold, OK?

So, is it any good? Damned if I know. I think it will take at least one more episode to see if the creative energy remains high (good) or if they lapse into tropes (bad). I've read that the manga it's based on is really good, so there's hope.

more...

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January 08, 2016

GATE S2 -- ep 1

So we're finally back with the split cour. And I was wrong about how much story they were going to tell. I thought they'd end just after but at the rate they're burning through the story there's no way that's it.

The first series ended about chapter 26 in the manga, give or take. The anime isn't based on the manga; it's based on the light novels. And so is the manga. Nonetheless, the anime and manga tracked really well, but as of the second season they don't seem to be.

This episode ended at about the end of chapter 32. The ending point I expected was chapter 46.

Obviously they're not going to keep moving at this breakneck speed, but they still aren't sitting around patiently. The next-ep preview promises us which was in chapter 35.

I've run into a couple of voices that I recognized. Zorzal has the same voice as Laxus in Fairy Tail. Yao has the same voice as Brioche in Dog Days and Lynn Lambretta in Mouretsu Pirates. Both are excellent casting choices, I must say. In general I've been very pleased with the casting in this series. For instance, the Emperor's seiyuu is really good at playing vicious bastards, and the seiyuu doing Zorzal is really good at that, too.

Not too surprisingly they redid the OP and ED. I don't think the ED is actual references to what's coming in the show, but it's awesome.

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January 07, 2016

Fandom at the speed of light

"Kawakami_Mai" (that's the busty girl in Musaigen no Phantom World) is already a tag on Danbooru. (NSFW)

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January 06, 2016

Musaigen no Phantom World -- ep 1

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And... we're off! The new season has officially begun here, with our first candidate Musaigen no Phantom World. Which was a lot better than I thought it would be. For one thing, it begins with an extended fourth-wall break.

It's a rather silly show in a lot of ways. It's also mildly ecchi, which is always a bonus. The basic conceit is that ten years ago there was a strange experiment going on at a certain company. A terrorist bomb blew the place up and released a genetically engineered virus, which changed the brains of everyone who got infected, which turned out to be pretty much everyone everywhere. As a result, the border between reality and fantasy has largely broken down, and Phantoms are now a fact of life.

Phantoms are things like fairies, monsters, and lots of other things. Reality is a bit plastic now, and Phantoms keep appearing all over the place. Some of them are rather benign and humans leave them alone. Some of them cause a lot of trouble, and have to be subdued and destroyed. But never fear, we have super-powered high school girls to come to our rescue! (And the occasional icky boy.)

Most people don't have such powers but a few do, all young. Clubs for them are formed at various high schools, and they divide into small teams and take jobs as they come in -- for which they are rewarded with barter but not money.

A lot of that came from an "As you know, Jim" in this episode, but it worked mainly because it wasn't very long and it was just a bit tongue-in-cheek. (He begins, "It's common knowledge, but I'll explain anyway.")

The eventual harem will be five girls, one of which is a loli with a teddy bear according to the OP. Another one is a tame phantom called Ruru, who seems to be a fairy and is hand-sized, though the OP suggests she can change forms and become big if she wants so. Nothing like that happened in this episode so it isn't really established yet.

This begins a bit like 35th Test Platoon did, with the team Our Hero is in being seen as losers in the school. (The difference is that 35th Test Platoon played it straight. This show knows it's dumb and isn't trying to pretend otherwise.) Initially it only consists of our hero, Haruhiko (first year), and the first girl, Mai (second year), who among other things is noteworthy for her amazing rack. Which fact is commented on several times by more than one person.

At the beginning Haruhiko wakens in his apartment, or is wakened by Ruru, who stays with him. He rushes to school fearing he'll be late and that Mai will roundhouse-kick him, and when he gets there she's fighting a phantom, a big one.

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Haruhiko's power is that he can draw a phantom, and then suck it into his drawing, capturing it. In addition to being a really athletic fighter, Mai has the power to call on any of the five elements, and use them janken-style to destroy any phantom once it's captured, because each phantom is associated with one of the five elements. So their powers complement each other nicely and it's natural they became partners.

Which brings us to another ecchi humor moment: Mai summons up the various elements by using magic and rubbing her body in different areas. To get water she rubs the area over her kidneys. To summon the power of metal, on the other hand, she fondles her boobs. (Don't ask stupid questions.)

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Haruhiko and Mai are aware of their weakness and have decided to try to recruit partners. The first victim is Reina, who is a phantom eater. Which, frankly, makes her a lot more powerful than either of the others, but she's also a bit shy and withdrawn and the other two are outgoing. So she joins them for a case in the second half of the episode. And she calls Mai onee-sama. (It's a harem, but whose harem?)

Some phantom power poles are dancing the limbo, and causing trouble. Haruhiko turns out to be a nerd who reads lots and lots of books, and notices an English language pun. Anyway, skipping over some silly exposition, he decides that they need to dance the limbo themselves in order to win.

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So all three of them try it, and Reina and Haruhiko both fail immediately. Mai does surprisingly well, but... her boobs are a problem, sticking up like they do, especially during the last round. So she bounces up and down so that her boobs will gainax, and she is able to move under the power line during a "down" and finally win it.

I don't think I've ever seen a show where gainaxing is a deliberate victory strategy where it isn't about distracting or affecting a guy.

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Other silliness: Haruhiko has a cliche'ed meet cute with Reina and realizes it. And whatever else Ruru is (a djinn, maybe?) she's also rather lusty. When Haruhiko is in the library reading, she nags him because his books are boring. She wants H. He says there isn't any.

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She also abuses him a few times, including kicking him in the head. She is a major source of humor, consciously so by the director, and she is a source of fan service. She also comments rather explicity about Mai's assets -- twice in this episode and I'm sure there will be more.

ANN currently only categorizes the show as "supernatural", but of course it's eventually going to be "harem" and I won't be at all surprised if it is also "comedy".

Definitely a lot of fun, and well deserving at least a second episode. If it keeps going like it began, I will certainly watch the whole thing.

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January 01, 2016

Warning! Panties ahead!

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Pixiv has a lot of really good stuff on it, you know? The problem is that there is even more really bad stuff, and it's tough to find the good stuff. Recently I found an answer to that, however. When people post pictures to Gelbooru, they almost always also post a link to where they found it. When I see a picture I like, I've been following those links back and checking out all the other stuff that artist has done.

Like the NSFW picture below the fold: it's funny, clever, sexy, and really well drawn!

more...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 11:51 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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