Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring 2014: What I'm Watching (Part 2)

My watchlist for the Spring 2014 season has been finalized, and the 8 shows below are all part of it.
 
Haikyuu!!

Alternate title: Attack on Volleyball Titans

Shoyo Hinata, despite being rather short, dreamed of playing volleyball, so he gathered together a bunch of friends to form a previously-nonexistent male volleyball club, trained hard for the regional competition... and in their first match, got crushed by the "King of the Court" Tobio Kageyama and his team. However, he did not leave without leaving an impression on Tobio, thanks to his quick reflexes and surprising jump height for his short stature. He vows revenge as he joins the high school volleyball team... but revenge will have to wait, as this time, Tobio is on the same team as him, and now, two rivals will have to learn to work together to bring their school's team to victory.

All things considered, this is pretty standard sports anime stuff. You have the plucky underdog with some crazy skills and the strong player who needs to learn how to work with others, along with the rest of the team aiming for the national title. There's not much to distinguish this from other sports titles plot-wise, but the execution is solid, and for fans of sports anime, that's plenty good enough. Plus, I like cheering for the short guys in sports. I would say that has absolutely nothing to do with being short myself, but I would be absolutely lying.

Haikyuu!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Mekakucity Actors

They may be actors, but they aren't playing around.

In a city live several people who have special powers related to their eyes, such as Momo Kisaragi, whose eye draws the attention of people to her whether she wants to or not. She also has a brother, Shintaro Kisaragi, who holes himself up at home and spends all his time on the internet, until an intrusive (yet rather cute) AI named Ene hacks into his computer and sets things up for him to step out into the world. These two find themselves involved with the Mekakushi-dan, who use their eye-related powers to thwart various evil plots.

This show is based on the Kagerou Project, which is a series of Vocaloid songs by Jin designed to tell a story, and which has since been adapted into various media, with this anime adaptation being the latest. As someone who does not follow Vocaloid much, though, I'm going into this show treating it as pretty much any other show about superpowered kids. The story being presented here is at least somewhat interesting, though the character interactions among the Mekaku-dan are the main draw for me at the moment. Oh, and this is being animated by Studio SHAFT, so be ready for a heaping portion of their trademark crazy visuals.

Mekakucity Actors is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Mushi-shi: The Next Chapter
(Japanese title: Mushishi Zoku Shou)

There's one on your shoulder right now.

Sequel Alert: This is a sequel to the first season of Mushi-shi, which aired way back in 2005. Yeah, I don’t know why it suddenly got a sequel either. That said, this show is very episodic and the episodes are all stand-alone stories in and of themselves, though some knowledge of the overall setting is recommend, so before going into this second season, I would suggest either watching a couple episodes of the first season (available on Hulu), or watch the hour-long special released earlier this year (available on Crunchyroll).

Mushi are beings that are the very representation of life itself. They are generally invisible to people, and their natural behaviors will sometimes cause problems for the people around them. Ginko is a Mushi-shi, a person with the ability to see mushi and the knowledge to help those who are afflicted by problems relating to them. He wanders the world, learning what he can about mushi and helping out people along the way.

It is hard to describe just what kind of a show Mushi-shi is. More than anything else, it is an experience: something you fully immerse yourself in while watching it. There's plenty of symbolism in the show about the human condition, and beyond that there's also just a lot of a simply fascinating world with these strange mushi creatures. It is definitely a show you have to try out, though; it is one of the most critically acclaimed anime out there, and while the critically-acclaimed stuff is not always my cup of tea, this is one show which I feel definitely deserves the praise it gets.

Mushi-shi: The Next Chapter is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Nanana’s Buried Treasure
(Japanese title: Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin)

Land of a Thousand Treasures.

Always be wary when you get an apartment with really low rent. There's always a catch, like the roof leaking when it rains, the walls falling apart, or, in the case of Juugo Yama, the apartment being haunted by a cute but rather assertive ghost girl. That girl is Nanana Ryuugajou, a genius who helped create the "Special Student Zone" island, but who was murdered in her apartment ten years ago, and is now bound to that same apartment room as a ghost. She has also left something special behind: the Nanana Collection, consisting of various treasures scattered around the island. Now, Juugo and various others find themselves with two tasks: find as much of the Nanana Collection as they can, and in the process, see if they can find out who Nanana's killer was.

One of the two shows on the noitaminA block this season (the other being Ping Pong, which I am not following), Nanana's Buried Treasure is a show with some promise, with solid characters, some interesting "ruins" to explore, and a mystery behind it all. Whether there really is a treasure of a show buried here has yet to be seen, but for now, it is a fun enough show to keep up with it. Not much else to say about the show itself. (Though there's the fact that Kana Hanazawa voices a crossdressing, effeminate boy in both this and Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara...)

Nanana's Buried Treasure is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

No Game No Life

More problem children are coming in from another world, aren't they?

Sora and Shiro are siblings who have shut themselves in their room out of declaring the real world to be a crappy game. They spend all their time playing games online, where Shiro's incredible raw skill and Sora's ability to psychologically read and manipulate other players make them a force to be reckoned with. Their skills capture the attention of a strange entity, who then warps them to a new fantasy world where everything is decided by games: exactly how Sora and Shiro like it. They join forces with the human race there, who is currently the weakest of sixteen races, to help them regain glory and to make the most of a life that actually is not too bad for once.

So yeah, this show is 100% pure wish-fulfillment. I don't think there's too much wrong with that, certainly not when it's done well and all in the name of good fun, and this show is doing okay in that area. The games look to be fun, with their twists on traditional rules, and Sora and Shiro are... interesting protagonists, with quite a skewed outlook on life, but they sure make the games interesting with how they play it. It's overall rather silly, but for a show like this which seems to be focused on having fun over trying to be anything serious, that is just fine.

No Game No Life is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

One Week Friends
(Japanese title: Isshuukan Friends.)

I had something to put here, but it's Monday and I forgot.

Kaori Fujimiya is a girl that is always alone and keeps her distance from others. Yuki Hase decides he wants to be friends with her. She refuses, but humors his company during lunch for a week. The two of them have fun despite themselves, but then Kaori reveals the reason why she avoids making friends: she loses her memories of her time with friends every Monday. Next week, Yuki, faced with the reality that Kaori does not remember who he is or anything they did together the previous week, makes a resolution: he will continue to ask Kaori to be his friend, as many times as he needs.

Amnesia is a common theme in fiction, with anterograde amnesia (not being able to make new memories, as opposed to retrograde amnesia where one forgets past memories) being explored in such works as ef - a tale of memories and the Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates. Whereas the condition gets a fully dramatic treatment in the former and the kind of comedic treatment one can expect from an Adam Sandler film in the latter, One Week Friends instead goes for a more emotional approach, using a combination of low-key drama, light comedy, and atmosphere to present a simple yet emotionally powerful show about the power of friendship.

One Week Friends is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Soul Eater NOT!
 
Death City is about to get a whole lot cuter.

Sequel Alert?: This is a spinoff of the original Soul Eater series, chronologically taking place before the original series. While some knowledge of the original series will help with understanding the setting (as well as all the cameos), this is also an easy enough show to jump right into without having seen any of the original. (For the record, I myself have seen only the first nine episodes of the original series as of now.)

Tsugumi Harudori was a normal middle school girl until one day when she tripped and her leg became a blade. Thankfully, this particular world has just the place for people with this condition: the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA), where humans who can turn into weapons partner up with "meisters" who are skilled at wielding their weapon forms. And while one always has the option of joining the EAT (Especially Advantaged Talent) class where meisters and weapons use their skills to collect the souls of evil humans and witches and protect the world from disaster (working alongside such people as Maka Albarn and her weapon Soul Eater), one also has the option of joining the NOT (Normally Overcome Target) class, where weapons simply learn how to control their powers and live a relatively normal life with the help of meisters. Of course, the key word here is "relatively", as DWMA is not the sort of place where "normality" is the norm. But Tsugumi is in good hands thanks to her roommates and potential meisters, the ditzy but friendly Meme and the runaway rich girl Anya.

To those waiting on Soul Eater: Brotherhood, sorry, you're gonna have to wait on that. This show, as indicated by the "NOT" in the title, is a different beast entirely. Gone are the crazy battles against evil, and the fancy art style that went with all that; in its place are several cute girls and a coming-of-age story that is somewhat slice-of-life, or at least as much as there can be in a place that trains human weapons. There's a little bit of action, as well as some hints of sinister going-ons, but the focus is more on how one girl comes to terms with how she can turn into a halberd, and how she gets along with the new and unusual friends at her new school. If that sounds like the worst thing in the world... well, no one's forcing you to watch it. (Unless someone is, in which case, you might want to contact a lawyer about coercive anime-watching.) Understandably, if what you care most about Soul Eater is its unique art style and high-energy action, then this show will probably just come off to you as an attempt to cash in on the moe craze. But if you're like me and are more interested in worldbuilding and looking at the world of Soul Eater from a different perspective (or are a fan of cute girls), then this is an excellent spin-off which does just that. 

Soul Eater NOT! is currently streaming on Funimation.
 
The World is Still Beautiful
(Japanese title: Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii)

Rain, rain, don't go away.

The Sun Kingdom has conquered much of the world, and while the Principality of Rain is technically part of the land under its control, King Livius I has allowed the rain country to maintain autonomy... on the condition that it provide a princess to be the king's bride. Nike is the princess who, due to losing a game of rock-paper-scissors, ends up traveling to the Sun Kingdom to marry this king. Two things complicate the matter: first of all, as it turns out, King Livius is just a young boy, and a pretty bratty one at that. Second, the king is in plenty of danger from those who are not happy with his rule, and with Nike being his bride-to-be, she's going to get dragged into any conflicts that come about. But Nike has the ability to manipulate air and change the weather, including being able to summon rain, and for a kingdom which has seen nothing but the harsh sun, she might be just what both the kingdom and the king's heart needs.

This season is an excellent one for fantasy works. Just from what I'm following alone, there's everything from hard action fantasy to slower-paced adventure fantasy to more fun-focused shows. This show is more of a political fantasy (focused more on societal issues than adventurous exploration; think Maoyuu Maou Yuusha or Outbreak Company) combined with character drama. It all works out quite well thanks to Nike, who is one of the best leads this season (if not the best), the kind of spunky princess who takes no crap and can stand up to everything from the bratty king to the outright malicious opponents of said king. There are a lot of really nice moments in this show, made possible by the character interactions and the use of the rain aspect, which helps make this show overall one I'm very much looking forward to each week.

The World is Still Beautiful is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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And that's it for me this season. Some of these shows might end up dropped before the end of the season, but so far all of them look good. Here are some random stats for fun:

15 new shows
13 shows streamed on Crunchyroll
5 shows licensed by Sentai Filmworks (Kawai Complex, Haikyuu, One Week Friends, No Game No Life, Is the order a rabbit?)
3 shows licensed by Aniplex of America (Mushi-shi, Mekakucity Actors, Nanana)
2 shows licensed by NIS America (Love Live!! S2, Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara)
1 show licensed by FUNimation (Soul Eater NOT!)
3 shows confirmed to be 2-cour (~25 episodes)
8 shows adapted from manga
3 shows adapted from light novels
2 sports shows (+Yowamushi Pedal) + 2 non-sport competition shows
31 moe female leads (listed as a main character by MyAnimeList)
2 shows with effeminate males voiced by Kana Hanazawa

What are you watching this season? Anything I should consider watching later? Do I need to stop watching crappy shows? (Mind you, if you are going to force me to watch or not watch a show, I have a lawyer who's an expert on coercive anime-watching.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

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

It’s that time again, to go over all the shows I plan to watch this season. I’m still finalizing my watch list, but I’m looking at following 14-15 new full-length shows this season, plus the continuing Yowamushi Pedal and various shorts. This part will cover seven shows that I already know I will be following.
 
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
(Japanese name: Escha to Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi)

The Book of Revelations never said much about the cute girls during the end times...

The world is dying out, but for Escha Malier, the lone alchemist in the town of Corseit, her world is just getting started, as she finally becomes a government official. She is soon joined by Logix “Logy” Fixario, an alchemist who transferred from Central. Together, the two of them explore the world around them while taking on jobs and creating things from other things, all while looking toward the ruins in the sky that have yet to be explored.

This anime is based on the PS3 game of the same name which was released in America recently, making it that much more puzzling that this is the one show on my list that has yet to get a legal US stream. It's also unfortunate because this is easily one of the best shows this season. The Atelier games are based less around the standard "save the world from evil" RPG faire and more around people who go around collecting stuff to make new stuff, helping others and exploring the world around them. This feel is brought to the anime adaptation rather well, for a fantasy show that is relaxing and pleasant to watch. If you're looking for a fantasy show with an intriguing world, fun characters, and a calming feel to it, this show is perfect for that. If you're looking for action and battles... well, the third episode preview suggests that will be coming too, I guess?

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is currently not available for legal streaming. You can always play the English PS3 game, I suppose...
 
Baby Steps

The only spark notes in tennis are the ones coming out of the ball-shooting machine.


Eichiro is well-known in his class as “A-chan” for getting all A’s in class, not because he’s naturally smart but because he takes incredibly detailed, organized notes, which he allows others in his class to borrow. However, all study and no play isn’t exactly healthy for the body, so when Eichiro decides to do some exercise, he checks out a tennis club—and finds the school’s popular girl, Natsu, who had earlier borrowed his notes, playing tennis there. From there, the two form a friendship as Eichiro starts playing tennis the only way he knows how: by annotating the heck out of it.

One of many sports shows currently on the air, Baby Steps is somewhat different from the others in that its main protagonist is completely new to the sport, and as such is taking *cough* baby steps into the world of tennis. The interactions he has with Natsu and the other characters are fun, and overall this looks to be a solid show that works as a sports show while also hinting at something of a romantic comedy. If that sounds good to you, then by all means, step onto this court.

Baby Steps is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Chaika – The Coffin Princess
(Japanese name: Hitsugi no Chaika) 

The coffin keeps this princess from getting scrapped.

Toru Acura and his sister Akira are saboteurs who specialize in warfare and combat… which isn’t exactly a good thing to specialize in during peacetime. While out hunting for food and looking for any job he can find, Toru runs across a strange girl carrying a coffin on her back. This girl, Chaika, is a wizard who is traveling and looking for various things, and she hires Toru and Akira to accompany her and protect her from the numerous groups out to get her.

Ichiro Sasaki is a name that I'm really starting to pay attention to now. He already wrote the original light novel for Scrapped Princess, which had an excellent anime adaptation, and more recently, the anime adaptation of his light novel Outbreak Company surprised me in becoming one of my favorite shows of 2013. Now, he is back with another light novel adapted into anime. Chaika shares a fair amount of similarities with Scrapped Princess, including a darker setting and plenty of action, as well as a general plot of two siblings who must protect a girl whom the rest of the world wants dead. Chaika is an interesting character; her quirk of speaking in broken sentences with no particles, kind of like a foreigner who only knows a bit of the native language, is... well, kind of fitting considering Chaika is a foreigner who probably only knows a bit of the native language; nevertheless, her speech pattern can seem either endearing, amusing, or just annoying. That aside, though, you have a fantasy work where unicorns are ferocious beasts, magic is an incredibly powerful force, and morality is perhaps more complex than just "the protagonists are right and their enemies are wrong"--the latter is another major strength this show inherits from Scrapped Princess.

Chaika - The Coffin Princess is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Is the order a rabbit?
(Japanese name: Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?) 

Is the order another adorable slice-of-life cute-girls show? Oh yes.

Cocoa arrives at a quaint town with several European-style buildings, which is where she will be attending school. She ends up staying at the Rabbit House, a café run by a girl named Chino and her pet Angora rabbit Tippy. Along with part-timer and military kid Lize, the sweets-creating Chiya, and the tea expert Syaro, these girls enjoy a nicely-blended life together.

Yes, it's another one of those shows. Those who know me--or have at the very least seen my Top 10 Anime of 2013 list--know that I absolutely love this type of show; between the cute girls and relaxing atmosphere, these shows are the perfect antidote to a tough week and a bunch of overly-serious anime. And while this show has yet to really show something beyond the standard cute-girls' antics to make it stand out like Yuyushiki, Kin-iro Mosaic, and Non Non Biyori did, the interesting European/Japanese setting and the sense that some of these girls could really use some companionship does offer some potential in that regard. There's also a rather unusual animal mascot involved that adds some extra amusement to this show. Otherwise, this is a show about cute girls with fun personalities, and your experience with past shows like it will largely determine whether it is something you stay far, far away from... or whether, like me, it is one of the shows you look forward to most every week.

Is the order a rabbit? is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (If Her Flag Breaks)
(Official abbreviation: Gaworare)

He can't see the ending, but what he can see will show him the way there.

Souta has a weird ability: he can see the flags indicating a direction a person’s life is headed in. Friendship flags indicating when a person is looking to be friends with him, love flags indicating when a person is about to fall in love with him, and especially death flags indicating when a person is about to kick the bucket. He can also try to break those flags, diverting the direction the flag is indicating. And  after being the lone survivor of a cruiser accident, that is exactly what he does, breaking friendship and love flags so that he does not hurt others because they get too close to him. But there are a number of girls (and one girly-looking guy) who have nevertheless taken an interest in him, and will be the ones to encourage him to come out of his shell. However, there’s still the mystery of just what is behind this flag-seeing ability of his…

This show is... something. It is an adaptation of a harem light novel, which tend to be on the lower end of light novel quality, frequently prioritizing harem antics over an engaging story. And to be sure, this show is full of harem antics, to the point that the sheer craziness of said antics is almost worth watching in and of itself. But what really makes this show worth watching is the underlying story hinting at something rather interesting and mysterious regarding Souta's ability to see flags, as well as some great characters that are rather broken and definitely have story potential. Special shout-out goes to the character designs by CUTEG, which make the whole thing look adorable. It's a show that can either end up being one of the stronger light novel adaptations out there or it could bomb spectacularly, but for now, it is definitely worth paying attention to.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (If Her Flag Breaks) is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior
(Japanese name: Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou)

"Kawaisou" can mean "Kawai Complex"... and it can also mean "pitiful".

Usa just wanted to live somewhere away from his parents and enjoy a nice, normal high school life, preferably with a nice girl, like that one girl he always sees at the library. Unfortunately, when he moves into the Kawaisou dorms, what he gets is a life with a bunch of crazies such as a masochistic weirdo, an overly clingy woman who can’t hold on to a boyfriend, and a college girl whose outer demeanor belies her inner sadism. Oh, and also that one girl he always sees at the library, Ritsu, who’s the granddaughter of the landlady. That last part would go better if he did not get on her bad side so quickly by trying to follow her into the girls’ area, but these sorts of living complexes have a way of bringing together people who have no reason to get along with each other otherwise.

I have an overall good history with shows that feature a "-sou" (some kind of dorm/apartment complex). Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~ with Narutakisou and Hidamari Sketch with Hidamarisou are two of my all-time top 10 anime, while The Pet Girl of Sakurasou was one of my top 10 shows of 2013 and Love Hina with Hinatasou... well, the manga was pretty good, at least. To me,  there is a major appeal to these shows, as they feature a group of diverse individuals that become like family to each other. This element is very much in play in this show, albeit the family is less a bunch of people that are buddy-buddy with each other and more like a family of people that give each other crap all of the time. But hey, that's family too, right? :P The original manga author, Ruri Miyahara, is also the original creator of Love Lab, one of last year's funniest shows, and the comedy is strong in this show, too. Overall, this is looking to be yet another great "-sou" show.

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior is streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Love Live! School Idol Project: Season 2

Now with 100% more actual "Love Live!"

Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of Love Live: School Idol Project, which aired early last year; I recommend watching that first.

It's a new semester, and Honoka, the fearless leader of the school idol group µ's, has somehow ended up as the Student Council president... yeah, that's not working out too well for her. But her idol activities don't get a rest either, as to the surprise of the group, another Love Live! competition has been scheduled, and this time, school idol groups will be directly competing against each other for the national title. And with the idol powerhouse ARISE in the same prefecture, µ's has a rough road ahead of them. But if idol shows have taught us anything, it's that the power of music and friendship can overcome anything... or at least make sure everyone has fun while trying to do so.

There's not much to say about this sequel to what ended up being one of the most popular shows in Japan last year, according to disc sales. The strengths of the past season are there, with fun characters and fun music, and this time, it looks like the titular idol competition will actually be a part of the show, which is definitely something to look forward to. Your mileage may vary on the CG idol dancing, but that aside, this looks to be a fun second season.

Both seasons of Love Live! School Idol Project are streaming on Crunchyroll.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Greatest Goodwill

I said I'd have a post for Easter, and... well, it's still Easter in Hawaii, so here it is.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (If Her Flag Breaks) is far from being one of my favorites of the new Spring 2014 season of anime, but it's a fun show with lots of crazy characters that also does some more serious moments rather well. This short post will be about episode 2, in which a number of people from school help out the male lead, Souta, to refurbish his run-down dormitory. Amidst all the insanity, the following line is said by the school's elder to Souta:

(As for why the "elder" looks like a 7-year-old girl: who knows?)
"You don't return goodwill with goodwill. You keep it in your heart. It will grow inside you, and change you, and then one day you'll grow into a person that can have goodwill towards others."
These are surprisingly fitting words for Easter, when Christians celebrate the ultimate display of goodwill, namely that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8, ESV). As sinners, we deserve the full punishment of death, and yet, without asking anything from us in return, Christ (who lived a sinless life) died in our place. And then, he rose from the dead, displaying his power over death and the promise that, for those that belong to Him, he will overcome death for us so that we can be with Him for all of eternity. This act of goodwill is so extraordinary, it makes even the biggest donation one could make to a donation center look like pocket change.

So, for Christians, what do we do in the face of this goodwill? Well, we do not try to return it with our own goodwill--that is, trying to do good works to somehow "pay back" God for what He gave us. After all, what God gave us is far beyond anything of earthly value; we could have all the lifetimes left in the world and still would not even come close to being able to pay back what Jesus paid for us. Furthermore, this kind of "must do good things to pay God back" attitude will lead to a legalistic lifestyle where we base God's approval of us on what we are doing for him, instead of how much He already loves us and accepts us as we are--and the former will not lead to anywhere good.

Instead, we are to keep that goodwill in our hearts, meditate in it, and abide in it, so that it changes us to become more like Jesus Christ himself. Whereas before accepting Christ, our ability to have goodwill toward others is rather limited by our sinfulness, with the goodwill of Christ's love for us, our own capacity for goodwill expands greatly, and the result is that we become genuinely loving people to a world that desperately needs that love.

Through all of this, it helps a lot that this goodwill that we are taking into our hearts is not some kind of inanimate thing that's supposed to somehow catalyze our hearts into changing. The "goodwill" that we take into our hearts upon accepting Christ is a living spirit, and what's more, it is the very spirit of God. Christians frequently call this living goodwill the Holy Spirit, and he is every bit as much God as God the Father is. We are not alone in trying to change our hearts; God Himself will work through that process with us, and the Holy Spirit plays a large role in this by working from within to allow us to overcome our sinful tendencies.

Finally, it is important to note that the process of having the living goodwill of the Holy Spirit change our hearts is not one where we just passively sit back and let that spirit do all the work. We will have to do some things to help bring about that change, and some of those things we have to do, we will not particularly want to do. However, this is ultimately different from the legalism I mentioned earlier, in that our motivation for doing these things is different: rather than doing good things because we feel we have to pay God back to get His approval, we are doing it because we desire to be more like God--because we want to be people that can have goodwill toward others.

Friday, April 18, 2014

One Week Ramblings: 4/18/14 Good Kin'youbi Mosaic Edition

It's Good Friday, the day when we celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. While I don't have a Christianity-themed post for today, I do have (a relatively short) one planned for Easter.

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This week was a good week for two of my favorite shows of 2013: both Kin-iro Mosaic and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU have second TV seasons greenlit! (In Kin-iro Mosaic's case, a sequel had been announced some time ago but whether it'd be a full TV season or an OVA was not known at the time.) Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to these second seasons, along with the second season of Non Non Biyori that was announced some time ago... and, of course, the second season of Log Horizon planned for the fall.

Though all things considered, the second season I'm looking forward to most is still Yama no Susume this summer...

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One other well-liked show from 2013 gets some welcome news: Love Lab has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for a home video release!

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That's all I've got this Good Friday. See you this Sunday for a quick post!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

One Week Ramblings: 4/12/14 Edition (includes Spring first impressions)

My apologies for the lack of ramblings last week; I had just gotten back home from Japan and prioritized sleep and catching up with anime over blog stuff. I'll be posting some final thoughts about Winter 2014's completed anime on the "Currently Watching" page sometime soon, while the usual Introduction to Spring 2014 Anime posts will be posted in a couple of weeks after I finalize my viewing plans for the season.

But for now, there is news to talk about!

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For fans of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, a.k.a. Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, first, the bad news: Sentai Filmworks has canceled their sub-only Blu-ray release of the show initially scheduled for May 27th, 2014. The sub-only DVD will still be released on that day.

Here, though, is the good news (possibly): they will be releasing on a later date a special Premium Edition of the show, which will include both the Blu-ray and the DVD as well as an English dub! This is the first time Sentai Filmworks has done a Premium Edition-type release, and it remains to be seen just what will be included in it, as well as whether they will also release a standard edition Blu-ray and/or DVD with the dub. Perhaps those who do not care for fancy extras might find the extra wait and the potential of having to pay higher prices unwelcome news, but for dub fans and fans who like their physical releases to be a little more high-quality, this is definitely something to be excited about despite the longer wait.

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Some interesting license announcements have been made this week. Fans of the classics will like Discotek's latest pickups, Hols, Prince of the Sun (a.k.a. Little Norse Prince) and Sherlock Hound. If you haven't seen these yet and want to check them out first, they're already available for streaming:

Sherlock Hound (Crunchyroll)

Meanwhile, Aniplex of America has announced that they will be doing an import release of the Persona 3 movie. Available versions include a Standard Edition (available for $60) and a Collector's Edition (available for $80).

And I'm sure all you Attack on Titan fans already heard the news: the show will be airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami block, starting May 3rd!

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While the full introduction post will come later, for now I'll talk quickly about each show that's aired that I've seen episodes of.

Mushishi: The Next Chapter is every bit as fantastic as the first season is... well, given that I've actually only seen the first four episodes of the first season. But they were all great episodes, and with the episodic nature of the show, I don't really feel like I'm missing out on anything by jumping straight into season two.

The irregular at magic high school (Mahouka Koukou no Rettosei) is pretty cool, though nothing too spectacular yet. It also has a bit of a problem with having a fair number of likable girls and pretty much zero likable guys outside of the male lead. But I'll give this one another episode.

Captain Earth was good, but I can already tell that I am not going to want to deal with that Salty Dog group, so I guess this one will be one I won't be following.

La Corda d'Oro: Blue Sky had some nice music and a decent, if not particularly remarkable story. I'll give it another episode.

The World is Still Beautiful is amazing, especially the second episode. I'll probably even write a blog post on it soon. Nike is probably my favorite character this season. I'll definitely be following this one.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is a lot of fun, and had some nice moments, especially in the first part of the second episode. Chances are good I'll be following this one.

Haikyuu!! looks like fun. I like cheering on short people in sports. I'd say it has absolutely nothing to do with being short myself, but I'd totally be lying. Not entirely sure I'll be following this one but chances are good.

Baby Steps, I'll probably follow. I like the somewhat different angle it does its sports stuff, showing the main character having to start as a complete beginner. Natsu is fun, too. I imagine this will have a bit more romance than other sports shows I'm watching.

One Week Friends... this show is amazing. It's nice and gently-paced and emotional without being melodramatic, and is just an overall sweet show. Definitely following this one.

Love Live!! School Idol Project Season 2 is season 2 of Love Live!!. And since I enjoyed the first season, you can bet that I'm watching the second.

I think one episode of The Comic Artist and Assistants is enough to me. Too much perverted humor and not enough to make me care about the characters like I could with, say, Seitokai Yakuindomo.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara was surprisingly good. It manages some nice serious moments and has some good characters that are rather broken. Admittedly, the fact that this show has been licensed by NIS America, whose releases I always love, does make me look at this show a bit more favorably...

Soul Eater NOT! is a great spinoff; I actually like it more than the original series at the moment (though I've still only seen nine episodes of the original series). As fun as the action of the original can be, I like the coming-of-age story presented in NOT more. I'll definitely be following this one.

Chaika - The Coffin Princess was awesome. It has some nice action and some moments to help set up the worldbuilding later on, which I'm looking forward to. Hopefully this will be the action-fantasy show I've been waiting a long time for...

If you read through my Top 10 Anime of 2013 post, it should come as no surprise to you that I'm totally in love with Is the order a rabbit?.

Atelier Escha & Logy, unfortunately, has yet to be streamed, which is too bad, as it's a fantastic fantasy show with fun characters and what looks to be a cool world to explore.

No Game No Life was okay. Needs more games.

Nanana's Buried Treasure was okay. Needs more treasure hunts.

And Mekakucity Actors... what the heck is going on?