Sunday, November 30, 2014

Looking Back: Love Live! School Idol Project (and School Idol Festival)

I'm back to blogging! And what better way to return than to look back at a series that I had enjoyed quite a lot over its first run, but only truly came to love after experiencing it through other media?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Blogging break (and an plug)

I'm afraid that, lately, all this blogging has been wearing me out. So I've decided to take a two week break from blogging to give me a chance to recuperate and have a chance to watch anime without having to worry about writing about it. I'll be back after Thanksgiving, perhaps with some scaled-back posting (like making 3-for-3 a bi-weekly column instead of weekly, and likewise making coverage of A good librarian like a good shepherd bi-weekly too). I'm definitely not going to stop blogging, because when I watch something I like, I naturally want to talk about it; still, it has been getting a bit much for me lately.

In the meantime, the What I'm Watching page has been updated if you want to see what I think about all the various shows I'm following this season.

Also, I'd like to plug my account, where you can ask me all sorts of questions and I'll answer them there and on my Twitter. (I might even post some of the responses here on this blog when I get back.) It's a way to keep in touch with all my readers while I'm on this break. Otherwise, I'll be back after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

3 for 3: 11/8/14 Edition

In this new weekly column, I will write three paragraphs each on three currently-airing shows. These paragraphs will cover thoughts on the show's execution as well as personal reactions, just like a standard aniblog post. Two of the three shows will consistently appear every week in a season, while a third show will be a "show of the week" that might change from week to week, depending on which show I feel like talking about that week.

Each show's write-up will contain spoilers. To jump to a specific show's write-up, click on one of the links below.

Celestial Method (Ep. 5-6)
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Ep. 5)
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying (Eps. 1-6)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Encouragement of Climb, S2 Ep. 15: Walking With You

This will be a relatively short post regarding episode 15 of the second season of Encouragement of Climb. There will be mild spoilers, so I'll add in the jump as usual.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai, Ep. 4: Good Intentions, Growing Hearts

Looking past the obligatory bath scenes, cosplay scenes, and general harem antics, A good librarian like a good shepherd continues to be a very enjoyable show with fun and meaningful character interactions. A significant focus of the episode is on Senri Misono, known as the school’s “Song Princess”… a title that she is not very fond of, as she believes others only treat her well because of her fame. Meanwhile, Golden Week is coming up, and Kyotaro must soon decide whether to continue helping Tsugumi with her Shiomi Happy Project or not.

You've heard of fanservice... this show introduces catservice.

A major theme here is what it really means to do something with good intentions, even when the end result is not the best. Moderate spoilers follow after the jump.

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 for 3: 11/2/14 Edition

In this new weekly column, I will write three paragraphs each on three currently-airing shows. These paragraphs will cover thoughts on the show's execution as well as personal reactions, just like a standard aniblog post. Two of the three shows will consistently appear every week in a season, while a third show will be a "show of the week" that might change from week to week, depending on which show I feel like talking about that week.

Also, due to things being busy, there will be no normal Weekly Ramblings this week. Consider this post an extended set of ramblings.

Be warned that spoilers are in every show's post.  If you only want to see my comments on one particular show, click one of the links below.

Celestial Method (Sora no Method)
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de)


Celestial Method: Episode 4

Like most people, Noel finds it uncomfortable when a lot of strangers stare at her.

How much you will like this show will depend on how much you are willing to tolerate and understand Yuzuki’s immaturity. I personally have no problem with it, as the show makes it pretty clear why Yuzuki is acting so distraught; that, combined with her being a middle schooler and likely dealing with everything that entails, provides all the framing I need for me to consider her character believable, if not necessarily likable. Even her slap was more understandable than Shione’s, because the feeling of betrayal is much clearer in her case.

In many ways, Yuzuki’s character is a tragic one. Because the saucer brought about some changes she didn’t like, she decided to try to rally up opposition against it, but as a child, people generally didn’t listen to her. Only her best friend Koharu tried to help her, but the first sense of being betrayed came about when her brother tried to convince Koharu to stop helping her. After this, she ends up in a vicious cycle of sorts where all she knows to do is act in impulsive ways that only push others further away from her, ending in Koharu finally telling her that what she’s doing is useless. The cruel irony is, the one supporter she has left is Noel, who she does not know is the very saucer she hates so much.

The question, of course, is how the others will help Yuzuki finally come to her senses. The others are definitely concerned for her; a talk between Nonoka and Souta shows that Souta himself wants to find a way to make things better between the two of them, especially before he goes to study abroad after middle school. However the group plans to help her out, though, it does look to continue in this show’s gently-paced yet emotional feel that makes it work so well.

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Episode 4

Awesome-sounding names make Jurai go all Gamagoori.

While the powers themselves aren’t on display much, I am definitely loving how this show uses the concept of these supernatural powers to tell a very natural, human story. This episode features a very simple story: Chifuyu has a normal friend, Madoka “Cookie” Kuki, who feels left out because she hangs out with the high schoolers in the Literature Club so much. Of course, she has a reason for doing so; in addition to liking the group a lot, she relies on them as fellow people with supernatural powers. However, she can’t tell this to Kuki, and as a result, the two get in a fight, with Kuki begging Chifuyu to stop hanging out with them.

The particulars might be unusual, but the story is a very real one, one that anyone who hangs out with an “unusual” group of people because they feel a special connection to them can relate to, especially if they’ve had to deal with other friends who question their involvement with such friends. And on Kuki’s side, it’s that feeling of loneliness and fear of abandonment when a close friend seems to have a secret that they just cannot tell. Jurai’s heart for helping his friends comes out again as he tries to help explain things to Kuki in a way that maintains their secret, and while his attempt to portray himself as a lolicon probably only succeeded in making a spectacle of himself (Kuki’s reaction suggest she doesn’t believe his claim), it’s ultimately Chifuyu’s actions that finally bring the friends back together.

There are plenty of smaller moments elsewhere in the episode that help it a lot. We understand how Chifuyu first came to hang out with the Literature Club, as well as how Satomi-sensei had been taking care of her as her aunt while her mother is somewhere else. And segments like the cosplay segment are still lots of fun, while providing some interesting looks at the characters within; it’s particularly interesting to see Tomoyo be the one that wants to try on bikini armor, instead of being the one that has to deal with the lewd suggestion of others.

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Shirobako: Episode 4

Even when off work, they're thinking of work.
As the group of high school girls from the start of the show now meet up as adults, this show reveals how this current story connects with that flashback of the past. Each girl has her own field of specialization, whether it be voice acting, animation drawing, 3D graphics, scriptwriting, or production, and all of them are likewise pursuing a career in that field. They’re all pretty new to the field, though some of them are further along than others; Shizuka is still trying to land a major voice acting role, and Midori is still in school learning how to be a scriptwriter. However, with the exception of Aoi, all of them are still holding on to their high school dreams of working in the animation business, paving the way for the show to focus on how these girls achieve their dreams, and the balance between ideals and reality they must face.

The exception is Aoi, who we find out in this episode isn’t quite as enthusiastic about being a renowned producer as the others are in pursuing greatness in their own fields. It’s also noteworthy in that Aoi is arguably the furthest along her career path among the girls, having already taken up one significant production work and with more to come. We don’t know a lot about why she feels that way; is she starting to get jaded by the grim realities of anime production, or simply feeling comfortable in the role she has as a production assistant? Whatever the case, this is the first sign this show has given us of some significant characterization, which bodes well for the remaining twenty episodes (yes, this show looks to be 24 episodes).

In the meantime, the little moments continue to make this show enjoyable from episode to episode. From Shizuka practicing her lines on the train (and weirding out those listening to her) to Aoi’s parents suffering through an episode of Exodus just to see their daughter’s name in the credits, plus the continued looks into what goes on behind the scenes of anime production, this show continues to work well as a thematic slice-of-life. Of course, the show being at least somewhat realistic, it means we have to deal with incompetent co-workers like Tarou, who is every bit as insufferable in this show as similar people are in real life, especially as next episode seems to be about cleaning up the mess he made. Still, this show has shown itself to be yet another show I would consider one of my favorites of the season.

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