Monday, October 20, 2014

Mushishi -The Next Passage-, Ep. 11: Where I Belong

It's your lucky day: instead of just my usual weekly ramblings, you get a full blog post from me today!

Mushishi is definitely an incredible anime series. I have really come to fall in love with this show and the various ways it explores the human condition, as well as the overall atmosphere of the show. Perhaps one of the best, and yet somewhat more underrated aspects of the show, is how its lead character, Ginko, reacts to every situation he encounters. He may approach every case as a relatively objective outside perspective, but he is by no means a stoic, unemotional presence; he has his own reactions to everything, and over the course of the show we get to see his own personality unveiled and even develop. As the one constant between every otherwise (mostly) stand-alone episode, he is a very important part of the show, and what ultimately makes it more than just a "mushi of the week" show.

It was then to my joy that I found that the first episode of the second half of the second season (listed as episode 11 of -The Next Passage-), which just aired last Saturday, focused on Ginko as a child, after his encounter with the Tokoyami (which we first saw in episode 12 of the first season), but before he officially becomes a mushishi. It's a very welcome opportunity to learn more about Ginko himself, and how he has come to be who he is now. And the episode most definitely did not disappoint on that count, providing what has been the best episode of Mushishi yet.

Ginko as a kid. That cigarette actually makes mushi-repelling smoke, but of course, we still can't show minors smoking on TV.
And if that was not enough, the episode gives some very thoughtful concepts of interest to Christians. Warning: Some moderate spoilers follow after the jump.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall 2014: What I'm Watching (Part 1)

It's that time again to go over all the shows I'm watching this season. Yes, I'm doing this a bit earlier than normal. That's mainly because I've decided on my final watchlist earlier this season. The shows this season that I had the most initial interest in have shown themselves to be worthy of my interest, and others that I've tried out have also show to have quite some potential. The result? A massive list of 16, possibly 17 new shows that I'll be following this season. (There's one show that only just aired that I haven't gotten to watch yet; if I decide to follow it, it'll be added to Part 2.)

So without further ado, let's get to the first eight shows that I plan to be following.

As a new feature, if you want to skip to a particular show's introduction, click on one of the links below. (Edit: They're working now.)

Amagi Brilliant Park
Celestial Method (Sora no Method)
Chaika -The Coffin Princess- Avenging Battle (Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle)
Denki-gai no Honya-san
A good librarian like a good shepherd (Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai)
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
Le Fruit de la Grisaia (Grisaia no Kajitsu)
Girl Friend BETA (Girlfriend (Kari))

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, Ep. 2: A good trash collector like a good shepherd

So yeah, I'll be regularly blogging this show. It's a show I'm enjoying quite a bit, for the reasons I mentioned in my last post on the show, and also because there are a lot of fun and interesting character interactions in this show. It also has a cat that randomly speaks Engrish. What's not to love?

How do you say no to that face?
At any rate, it's a show that isn't getting a whole lot of attention elsewhere, with most of the attention it is getting being negative, so I figure I would give it some positive coverage here. Regardless of whether or not you plan to watch the show yourself, the show does have some interesting themes of worth to Christians, so there's that, too.

(I'm keeping with the Japanese title because it's shorter and I already did the first post with it and want to keep continuity.)

In the second episode, Tsugumi kicks off her "Shiomi Happy Project" by helping clean up trash around the academy, and inviting others to do so as well. It's a seemingly small step in her plan to bring happiness to the students on campus, but in many ways, it's a step in the right direction, especially for Kyotaro and the others as they help out.

(More after the jump. Spoilers? They're so minor, I don't think they can even be counted as spoilers.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hanayamata, Eps. 11-12: The Grand Finale

It's time to cover the grand finale of Hanayamata, looking at themes found not just in those episodes, but also in the entire show overall. In the meantime, though, we can certainly enjoy how this show plays out its final episodes. The final dance might not be quite as nicely-animated as one might want (I'll blame that on people not giving the show enough of a budget), but story-wise, everything comes together in these last two episodes in such a nice way, including during the dance itself, that this finale is still a very strong one.

This is quite possibly the single best split-second in anime ever.
This final post will, of course, contain moderate spoilers.

Looking Back: Myself; Yourself

Go figure that, in a show about multiple girls, the most memorable moment involves the friendship between two guys.

(Note: This Looking Back post is free of all but the most minor of spoilers.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, Ep. 1: Like The Good Shepherd

I can understand if you're raising an eyebrow as to why I'm blogging about an episode of this show, of all things. After all, in a season full of promising shows, including a number of other potentially interesting visual novel adaptations, why waste my time talking about (or watching) a seemingly mediocre harem visual novel adaptation that spends much of its first episode over an accidental grope? Well, Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, also known by the English name A Good Librarian Like A Good Shepherd (although the show doesn't have an official English name yet, for some reason), certainly won't be winning the praise of any critics, but I for one actually enjoyed its first episode quite a bit. It has a unique setting (the mega-academy is rather underused as a school-type setting), a cast of characters that is fairly archetypical but works well enough and has some signs of depth, and an overall premise that looks like it can go interesting places.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show's premise is the presence of the "Shepherd", who is guiding things from behind the scenes, as well as the hint of a "Shepherd Test" and the suggestion of having lead male Kyotaro take that test. Even beyond that, though, is the fact that Tsugumi Shirasaki, with the help of the Library Club, is looking to bring happiness to the students of the massive Shiomi Academy through some kind of project. In a way, she is trying to become a shepherd herself, leading the rest of the academy to happiness. It is a rather daunting task, because she herself is very much like a sheep: meek, powerless, and just one of many other "sheep" at the academy (there are over 650 students in just one classroom!). But she wants to challenge herself and grow through the experience, so she's doing it.

These are rather interesting words in and of themselves, potentially worth a blog post on their own.
In all of this, the whole Shepherd aspect offers a potential connection to Christianity; after all, God is frequently referred to as a shepherd, leading His people, the sheep, to where He wants us to go. The analogy of us as sheep highlights how helpless we are without Him; without a good shepherd to lead us, we're prone to wandering off into dangerous territory and getting ourselves eaten by wolves. Thankfully, God is more than willing to serve as a shepherd to us, patiently guiding us and keeping us safe.

But if part of the Christian walk is becoming like God, then that means, to an extent, we too are to become shepherds. We might not have to lead all the Christians in the world like God does, but we are called to make disciples, which is a miniature shepherding role in and of itself. For those who are called to become leaders, especially pastors, the role of a shepherd takes even more meaning. But even if all we shepherd is one "sheep" at a time now and then, that is enough reason to seek to become like the Good Shepherd.

It can be a daunting task, though; after all, we are in many ways still sheep ourselves. And the idea of a sheep becoming a shepherd sounds weird no matter how "good" the sheep might be. But that is why we have God as the Good Shepherd that we look to, to give us what we need to do what we cannot do by ourselves (such as fellow sheep who can help us along the way). It's similar to how Tsugumi not only has the rest of the Library Club, but also the mysterious Shepherd who brought the Library Club together (even if his methods are a bit suspect).


I don't know if I'll be blogging this show regularly like I did for Hanayamata and Barakamon last season. Even if I did, this show is probably not going to be a top-tier show like those two were, even with how much I liked the first episode. Nevertheless, it is definitely one I'll be keeping an eye on, and which I may just revisit on this blog in the future. (It's likely to join the upcoming "3 for 3" feature I have coming up, at least.)

At the very least, perhaps I ought to write something about how being a good librarian can help in becoming like the Good Shepherd?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No weekly ramblings, but...

Sorry for the lack of weekly ramblings this weekend. I sent my laptop in for repairs, and wasn't in the mood to try to compose something on my iPad. And while I have the laptop back now, I don't really have it in me to compose anything like a Looking Back post.

Instead, I took the time to update my What I'm Watching page with final scores and thoughts on all of the Summer shows I watched, plus initial impressions of the Fall shows I've watched so far. Check it out by clicking on the page link above... or if you're lazy, just click here.

Final posts for the last two episodes of Hanayamata and Barakamon will be coming eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later. Also expect further coverage of Encouragement of Climb Second Season (despite the continued lack of a legal stream) as well as possibly a new show that I'll be covering during the season, plus a new feature called "3 for 3". What does that mean? You'll have to wait and see...