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Nov 5, 2018
I'm a musician by training. Not professional level, but enough to understand how most of the motions and mechanisms work, and a little of how artistic expression works in music. As such, a good bit of my review of the series will be from this perspective.

This is a romantic drama with a few specters looming over it. It's like Nodame Cantabile in this respect, though with a greater emphasis on youth, abuse, death, loss, and healing, and wrapping up in 2 cours rather than 3 series.

Visually, this is some of A-1's best work, though there are cheap shortcuts like panned still frames during performances, and read more
Oct 9, 2018
A young girl (and love interest) dies, shattering a close-knit group of kids.

"So it's like Anohana?"

Well, it happened in a video game. And she shows up in a remake of said video game.

"Uh... So it's like Anohana meets SAO?"

Dude, this doesn't involve a high school boy in drag, nor does it involve imprisoning thousands in a game that literally kills you.

"So you're saying it's a mashup? It was written after both of those--"

Look, just blame the publisher, all right?

It's hard to avoid the comparisons to Anohana, SAO, or similarly-themed anime, particularly when those hit series aired well before the first volume of the original novel. read more
Oct 8, 2018
In life, there are examples to follow and there are examples to avoid. Gundam Seed Destiny (GSD) is definitely an example of how not to produce an animated weekly television series.

The premise isn't bad in and of itself: What if, as the emo hero from series 1, you destroy the family of a completely innocent person and turn him into an anti-hero?

That's fine, that's well and good, but this is Gundam. Gundam regularly deals with things as big as diplomacy and intrigue between powerful alliances in addition to the personal stories of the individuals caught up in conflict involving giant robots. The problem with this read more
Oct 8, 2018
This is one show I keep coming back to, because the cast of characters is well-written and funny, and the world is relaxing and beautiful.

Real-world, historical magic and witchcraft are often depicted as misunderstood powers of young women, where politically powerful men feel threatened by them. Often in Japan, someone who is "weird" or "different" is quickly turned into a target for bullying and isolation. Flying Witch does neither with its witchcraft: it's not a massively powerful set of abilities like in countless magical girl shows or The Ancient Magus Bride, and the community in this little corner of Aomori is surprisingly accepting of these read more
Oct 7, 2018
Ah, SAO II. The anime that answered the question no one asked, namely, "What if a serial murderer made their crimes look like part of a video game?" Jack Thompson would've loved this author.

Oh, and spoiler warning.

The first arc is... all right. I wasn't very keen on the idea that "Kirito can deflect bullets with a sword because invincible Japanese samurai. And because Kirito", and the shameless use of Star Wars lightsaber sound effects. The "OMG teh death game is back" tension was good, the specter of the antagonist was all right, but when his identity is revealed, it's kinda like lifting the curtain on read more
Oct 7, 2018
I've written elsewhere that Eureka Seven's production crew did a recap clip show the right way: Tie it into the universe convincingly. Make the audience believe it's part of a greater whole.

In contrast, Sunrise sucks at this, and they're the 3000 pound gorilla of Japanese animation. Anyone remember the debacle called Gundam Seed Destiny? That show's execution was so bad, there were something like 3 recap clip shows to paper over the rapidly collapsing production.

When Hideaki Anno ragequit from KareKano (I'm mostly kidding, reality is probably a bit more complex), Gainax desperately included longer and longer recap sequences at the start of episodes because they read more
Oct 7, 2018
Ah, SAO. The anime that provided an answer to a question no one asked: "What if someone made a game/device that imprisoned thousands in a virtual world on pain of death?"

The first "season", AKA the "Aincrad arc", is probably the strongest in terms of story and character (and unfortunately, this doesn't mean that character is all that great; it just means that character-wise series 1 doesn't induce one to try to remove one's own brain from watching crappy writing or scene planning).

Visually... it's A-1. Neither groundbreaking nor eye-clawingly awful, but good enough to get the point across. I can tell that someone in the storyboarding read more
Oct 5, 2018
"It looks terrifying at first, but it's not so bad if you take it a step at a time."

The show continues the "mountain climbing for noobs" theme of season 1, this time showing what obstacles and challenges new climbers might face through Aoi's experiences. Because not every climb goes according to plan (and can even go terribly wrong), it's important to see Aoi become discouraged and yet take up the walking stick again.

The episodes in season 2 are still shorts, but this time around they're 15 minutes rather than 3 to 5 minutes-- one season 2 episode has the story content of roughly 3 or read more
Oct 3, 2018
When Yama no Susume premiered, I took one look at the show and passed, thinking it was a "sports anime" like Yowamushi Pedal or any of the billions of baseball/soccer shows that Japanese producers can't get enough of. "Hiking club? Whatever." But the Anime Drought of Summer 2018 showed up (1), and I needed a pick-me-up anime to break the monotony that set in. A colleague at work heard that I enjoyed Yuru Camp, and suggested Yama no Susume. All right, let's have a go, but I want to start from the beginning.

So, how do you get an acrophobe to climb a mountain? Just make read more
Sep 13, 2018
This review contains spoilers.

I've mentioned before that if you don't want to slog through 26-50 episodes of a TV series, watch the movie version. Well, here you can watch the movie first, get an idea of the show, and if you enjoyed it, watch the TV series and OVA. Why? The prologue leading up to the title frame is an excellent primer to the franchise. There was something similar in the first episode of the show, but on a much smaller budget. The prologue in the film takes place (probably) between the two seasons of the show, featuring the cool and yet ahistorical alliance between read more