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Annotated Anime

Annotated Anime: Space Patrol Luluco episode 12

Jun 24 // Salvador GRodiles
It’s thanks to this format that Luluco has been a huge roll for a good while. While this episode wasn’t the one where the gang confronted the Blackholian’s leader, the whole thing played off nicely with the concept of how one values their feelings for their first crush. Since M.A.O.’s performance hit the right notes in delivering a powerful yet cute moment during Luluco’s big scene, it shows how everything was pieced together just for this big event. Hell, the team’s idea to give the whole thing a final battle treatment while our heroine sticks to her resolve gave it a dynamic that’s on the same level as the penultimate confrontation in most of Gainax and TRIGGER’s titles. Honestly, the big thing that made this whole thing magical was how everyone decided to set aside their differences to make sure that Luluco wins Nova over, as the whole thing breaks out into an all-out battle against the Blackholians. This whole build-up worked well in conveying the idea of someone who has the support of their close ones while they build up their confidence to confess to the person that they love. Considering that Luluco’s goal was powerful enough to get her parents to help her out, TRIGGER was able to bring us a neat take on the saying “Love conquers all!” Even when Imaishi and the TRIGGER veterans were putting Luluco and the gang through random situations each season, the one thing that always remained consistent was the heroine’s feelings for Nova. To an extent, this tone probably represents the obstacles that one has to deal with, as the insane situations could be a representation of the factors that attempt to ruin one's focus on their main goal. For a show that was presented as a short that was filled with many off-the-wall segments, Space Patrol Luluco managed to present its audience with a memorable love story of the season. This was thanks to TRIGGER’s subtle moments between Luluco and Nova, which served as a great pay off for people when it reached its climax. At the same time, their use of timing and anticipation in these scenes allowed for them to capture the hearts of people during these brief segments. In the end, it’s amazing to see that the show will end on us with a season that’s only one episode. Then again, TRIGGER might pull a fast one with this last segment, so it’ll be interesting to see how the chapter’s title will come into play. One thing for sure, this anime might take the prize as the best five-season series of the year. [Confess to Space Patrol Luluco at Crunchyroll]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Double Love Xtreme!
For a second, I thought that Luluco’s fourth season was going to be the end the series. Not that I’m against there being a new season, as there are still many things that the show has yet to resolved. If anything,...

Annotated Anime: Space Patrol Luluco episodes 5-11

Jun 12 // Salvador GRodiles
I don’t think the word "fun" is enough to describe the time that Imaishi and his crew are having with Luluco lately. From episode 5 and beyond, the team has been launching the series into greater heights than many folks have imagined. With her mother Lalaco showing great promise, she served as that piece to takes things up on a notch. In other words, the TRIGGER veterans must be having the time of their lives with this project. This might just be a speculation of mine, but I had a feeling that Lalaco being a space pirate was likely connected to one of Mao Ichimichi/M.A.O.’s previous roles. The reason behind this link was that she played as Luka Millfy/Gokai Yellow in the pirate-themed Super Sentai series known as Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which featured a flying red pirate ship. When you look at Lalaco’s ship, the color scheme almost resembles the Gokai Galleon from the series. For now, this scenario might just be a coincidence; however, I still found this random observation to be something that helped make this arc more entertaining than it was. Most importantly, the big thing was how the series brought back elements from KILL la KILL, as Lalaco’s pirate outfit seemed like it was made from Life Fibers. Whether it is or not, the beauty about it was how it made way for the show’s TRIGGERverse season where Luluco and the group had to reclaim their home that was stolen by Lalaco. While we got to go back to KILL la KILL and Little Witch Academia during this arc, the highlight was the return of Imaishi’s Japan Animator Expo short, “Sex & Violence with Machspeed,” making a comeback. All in all, the clash between our heroine’s full-color palette with the world’s usage of black, yellow and white gave it a distinct style. The cool part was that it retained the Panty & Stocking-like humor that the original short had while maintaining the spirit of Luluco's randomness. Even though the series gave off a feeling that TRIGGER’s goal was just to have a blast and push things to overdrive, you have to hand it to them for inserting the pieces for the show’s climatic arc. From the “Alpha” and “Omega” terms in Nova’s name to Midori’s Black Hole App, the team harnessed these things that many people likely thought were just random and brought us a segment that took us back to the Anti-Spiral from Gurren Lagann— except that the show’s villain's scheme is all about stealing things. The thing that sealed it for me was the ongoing arc about Luluco’s love for Nova as tragedy befell the show’s main heroine. Perhaps the neat part about this scenario was how TRIGGER foreshadowed an element from it during the show’s ending sequence. It’s these little aspects that amplify the major parts of episode 10’s big scene— especially Lalaco’s reaction to the whole thing. Combined with a lecture by a certain iconic TRIGGER character in the episode after it and we have ourselves a wonderful moment that makes us want to root for the anime’s main heroine. When I first started watching Luluco, I wasn’t sure how to react to the show’s short length; however as I kept keeping up with each episode, I started to slowly see the vision that TRIGGER was going for as they threw a ton of unexpected challenges to force Luluco to aim high in her mission to save her father and her hometown, along with nabbing the guy of her dreams. From the looks of it, the show might be shooting for a theme about how one should just take a risk and plunge into whatever obstacle that you’re tackling for the first time, along with holding on to the things you value the most. Whether the team intended for Luluco to be the series that connects every original TRIGGER anime to create a TRIGGER-verse or not will continue to be a thing that’s up to the viewer’s interpretation of the anime; however, it might just be an idea they wanted to mess with for this title as it left us with some priceless scenes, such as the group defeating the Life Fibers with a simple solution. With Space Patrol Luluco Season 2 and 3 being a huge improvement over the first, it looks like the series finale will leave us surprised as something unexpected comes our way. Based on TRIGGER’s work so far, they’ll get to accomplish more things than a majority of anime titles that run for four seasons. Of course, the best part is that they’ll do it with lots of love and “Justice!”
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Is this the birth of the TRIGGER-verse?
You got to hand it to shows that outdo themselves to the point where they can convert any doubtful viewer into a fan. In this case, my concern for Luluco’s episode length was wiped out of my system as Imaishi and t...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 7

Jun 05 // Jeff Chuang
A hallmark of late-night otaku fare, self-awareness in anime is a well-respected and at times powerful tool. Just as much, it can be a barrier for shows to overdo its self-awareness, wringing the story dry of any compelling qualities besides never-ending stream of references. I think Haifuri strikes a natural balance where the ludicrousness of its premise set the anchor to as how much of that fourth wall it chooses to lean on. In other words, the show knows what you're thinking, and does enough to assure you that it also knows, with tongue fully planted into cheek. That said, I nearly lost it when the electronic bidet extended into its full swing, give or take a few seconds for my brain to register what was happening. After all it's not every day you get to see one of these in action, even if you live in Japan. And I mean, is this the kind of toilet humor we want--a young lady unintentionally spraying seawater up her nether region? I think so--it's the most improbable of its kind, and creative to boot, executed tastefully. If there's any fault, it's just the bizarreness of this hypothetical is already one step too far from normal to begin with, now we're one robotic water-sprayer away further from what is sensible. It totally distracted me from perhaps another relapsing episode of the "beach" as the girls are still on a boat. Swimsuits are always game. And this time it's because there's no water?In some ways Haifuri even took that up a notch with Scuba wet suits even, as later on some members of the class went to search for missing passengers inside a sinking ship. In expected Haifuri style, the second half of the episode recovers from your weekly half-dose of a sailor's life and dive into some character development. Here is the other noteworthy tongue-in-cheek highlight: when our vice captain finally addresses her complain about the captain running headfirst into trouble, and heads her first away team. It is in these awkward repetitions where a sensible theme emerges about taking responsibility as captain and as someone who is the most important also have to do the most hands-on, or tries. It is a very positive leadership message in my opinon and they were able to convey it successfully, if a bit clumsy. There's a sense of poetry too, when we discover the lost being was a cat and not a child. In a series where the characters inherit household pet-cat names and cats inherit names of past admirals, I guess it makes sense--it makes Haifuri sense, which is probably a degree apart of the more common variety. In any event, Haifuri was able to keep its serious moments rooted in tension. In her moments of desperation, Shiro-chan felt like a converted woman, at least. It is in these moments where Mike-chan grows somewhat as a believable character and less an average spatz-head protagonist, as we assume the level-headed Shiro's point of view. And yes, even at this point, Haifuri is still dropping hints about more development, although we are taking a breather across the board. As Haifuri's mission changes from a survival-renegade mode into search-and-rescue maybe we'll get back into the fray of naval battles. [Watch Haifuri ion Crunchyroll, Daisuki and Funimation!]
Haifuri photo
No water on a boat
As Harekaze's expedition drags on in the search of her missing fleet, the crew runs low on water. It is then we get these hijinks about what saltwater can do for you, or not. The story carries on despite these distractions as this week, High School Fleet performs a search and rescue of a civilian cruiser.

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 6

May 26 // Jeff Chuang
While the Harekaze is not losing any steam, we're at the point of the show where there isn't a whole lot to say. The mystery of the disappearing and mutinous ships continues to push the plot forward and keep up the tension, but we now have the alien rodents squarely in the view. The rest of us just have to cope with the bizarre mix-and-match of cute girls doing cute things and a very diverse and expert set of skills that somehow got assigned onboard the bottom-barrel school-boat. This week's Haifuri builds on last week's with more big-picture setup while the crew deal with more mundane things, from cooking German foods to make Mina more at home, to setting up mine sweeping to clear out the stray mines that Harekaze found themselves in. The naughty threat on the high seas turned out to be genetically modified mice who can interfere with electronics and make people go crazy once the virus carried by the rodents infect their victims. Naturally, this leads to a lot of other questions, and those questions will have to be the new fuel in the boiling furnace of the collective curiosity of Haifuri's viewers. The show takes a few moments to also build up a few intercharacter narrative strands. These big words don't really fit what has happened, but Kuro-chan, the disgruntled engineer and fan of Shiro-chan, tries to dig into the all-too-nice Mike-chan. It's not quite the cat fight Haifuri needed, but it certainly drops some interesting new threads to the oddly upbeat voyage where the girls are always in a pinch. The transitional episode, however, doesn't leave much to say besides all the building up High School Fleet is doing. I think the whole complaint-about-Mike-chan-running-off bit is going to come around pretty soon. At least now I have some time to learn more of their names. [High School Fleet is streaming on FUNimation, Daisuki and Crunchyroll]
Haifuri photo
Virus on a boat
Believe it or not, in 6 episodes a lot has happened in High School Fleet. Our high school frosh class of seafarers swept mines, dodged torpedos, avoided cannon fire, foiled mind-control mice, and developed a vaccine for the possible viral condition that these strange rodents carry. It's surprisingly more like Star Trek than ever.


Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 5

May 10 // Jeff Chuang
Again, I have to applaud Haifuri on delivering a lot of stuff I wanted. It gave us fleet battle action this week. It gave us a lot of adults trying to explain and base the chaotic running away that happened to the Harekaze the past four episodes. It asked the important questions, such as "why did you fire on the Harekaze?" and "Why do you use 'washi' for 'I' (because normal people don't use that term)?" It gave us dolphins. It gave us cute girls in swimsuits. It even had time to give us a couple character backstories, such as the traumatic memory of our helmswoman Rin-chan, who wanted to overcome her cowardly countenance but ended up using her running-away skills for the greater good. To do all this in the 23-or-so minutes allotted, however, Haifuri also had to give us rodents of death that can interfere with electronics to disable some missiles? Speaking of which, there were some pretty good hardware fanservice this week in Haifuri. We saw Musashi's fearsome type 94 cannons quite a bit and up close, in action. The anti-sub missiles had even a close-up cut as they deployed the two-fold parachutes for torpedo insertion. That part wasn't even all 3DCG, which was both amusing and unexpected. There was even a blimp in the beginning... Still, it's hard to downplay the roles of those pesky rodents. I mean, really? Is this how you want to play it, Haifuri? Just because a few freaky hamsters ran around the missile pods, we can't stop the Musashi with military hardware that is possibly 100 years more advanced? I suppose if we think of the instructors' fleet as a typical bunch of coast guard types, maybe, but these sure are well-armed ships that doesn't seem to do anything. The plot device rodents definitely undermines the mutiny subplot in terms of the tone, but I suppose I can give Haifuri the benefit of the doubt for the time being, until it unravels some more of its thickening plots, of the other variety. Anyway, for those of us who watch anime for the more dramatic, Haifuri provides even one somewhat-abrupt, but rewatch-worthy scene as Mike-chan forces herself from the rest of the crew in a mad dash to rescue the captain of Musashi, despite Shiro-chan's plea. It seems from the few cutouts that they were able to show us inside the bridge of the Musashi, Moka-chan has barricaded herself in it. Perhaps equally interesting, but in a light-hearted, biting truism kind of way, was a quick interplay between Shiro-chan and Mike-chan when Mii-chan gave a toast for the crew, mentioning the captain's un-captain-like nature. I guess in a season of TV anime where impact short anime series can be a thing, these normal half-hour battleships of the late night variety have to punch at least on the same class. High School Fleet definitely showed that it can, and non-stop, although not everything may come together very well. [High School Fleet is on Crunchyroll, FUNimation, and Daisuki.net!]
Haifuri photo
Gerbils on a boat
High School Fleet, in some simple ways, delivers exactly what you expect from a show like this. It might not seem like a tremendous undertaking for a show ostensibly about cute girls doing cute things to give us exactly that,...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 4

May 05 // Jeff Chuang
In some ways, High School Fleet 4 is very impressive for depicting life on a warship in this manner, because it is doing as much as it can to depict the ordinary life of high school sailor girls on an antique destroyer in an ordinary sort of way. The toilet paper (TP) crisis, in which a few dozen teenage girls are running out of TP, is in no way an ordinary problem for a group of people, that, in the viewers' minds, are anything but ordinary. I mean, did anyone expect to hear a description of the differences between Japanese TP and German TP this week? This month? As someone who have seen hundreds of Japanese anime set in the stereotypical high school context, I find Haifuri at least a curious mix. Which is to say, so we're going to a shopping mall on the seas to buy some TP. What's probably more puzzling and troubling, all at once, is the strange rodent (hamster, is it not?) that the Harekaze crew rescued on-board. Does it have mind control powers? Is this at the root of the various mutiny events? Needless to say it raises more questions than it answered at this stage of the game. Thankfully the story quickly quarantined the dangerous animal in the care of Harekaze's doctor, easing the mood that was more akin to from zombies on a boat, even if the episode sort of ends on that note. It's probably safe to say Haifuri plays around with a lot of trope-aware concepts. The mutiny plot thread drives this undercurrent, that ties in with the mind control, the distress call from Musashi, and the adults investigating a strange situation from the start. I like it, to put plainly. If post-modern entertainment is going to be aware of its viewers specific inclinations, it might as well play its cards from the start and give us it knows we have not had before in a way that's all too familiar. And if the only casualty here is my inability to remember all the crew's names, that's not a huge price to pay. I mean, I can remember the gunnery officer as the quiet, timid girl who got mind-controlled by a rodent, versus the torpedo officer as the one person who really, really just wants to shoot stuff up. I think this description will work when I communicate with anyone who has seen the show. This week's Haifuri involves the adults a lot more than last week. We got more glimpses of Shiro-chan's family, and who are the actual Blue Mermaids. And since there are never enough new characters to show us in Haifuri, here are two more ships, their captains, their cats, plus Shiro's sister's subordinate. Maybe now that Harekaze has made contact with the adults in these waters the girls will be spared of their weekly "pinches" and get back to school. Or maybe not. The important thing is we got a bit more of the setting, which arguably is also another character in this story with more characters than I can care to count. [Watch girls named after cats caring for a cat named after a human on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Daisuki!]
Haifuri photo
Toilet paper on a boat
What is the maidens' big trouble on a boat? They ran out of toilet paper. As Harekaze's expedition ran longer than initially expected, the crew listed the supplies they were short of, and it wasn't just torpedoes and depth charges. Haifuri takes us to go sundry shopping this week.

Annotated Anime: Ace Attorney Episode 5

May 02 // Christian Chiok
Right after, we jump straight to the case. Will Powers, the actor who plays the Steel Samurai, was accused of murdering his co-start Jack Hammer, the actor who plays Evil Magistrate, the villain of the series.  Phoenix not having a client in so long, Maya suggests that he should take this case as she believes in his innocence. Naturally, they go to the detention center to talk to their new client. So far, the episode remains faithful to the series, with Maya instantly changing her mind about Will Powers’ innocence after taking a look at him but after Will Powers showing how nice he actually is, caring about what the kids that look up to him would think of the Steel Samurai, she changes her mind once again. Will Powers was portrayed really well, too. I try not to be too picky when it comes to anime adaptations but this is where things start to feel disconnected.  After meeting Will Powers, Phoenix and Maya decide to go to the studio to find clues, and this is where they meet the security guard—Wendy Oldbag. While in the game she comes out really obnoxious, it didn’t transfer too well into the game, but at least her talkative trait remained intact. This entire scene already feels rushed as they already introduced a character that isn’t supposed to appear until a lot later in the case and combined the interaction between Wendy Oldbag and Detective Gumshoe. Right after that, most of the investigation part got completely skipped. Luckily, even in the original game the investigation part of the case wasn’t too exciting but it shouldn’t have been skipped either. Then we jump straight to the trial, which of course, it was a bit rushed as well, especially after skipping the investigation part which actually brings some details into the case. Just like the previous two cases, it indeed gives you the gist of the trial but it gets to the point too fast. At least, during the final part of the first trial, it was very on par with the game—with both the dramatic and intense feel that it emitted as well as the soundtrack from the game. While not really a gripe, this episode made Maya look a lot more young compared to previous episodes. I thought she look really cute but maybe a little a little bit too cute for her age. While she is indeed a fun and charismatic character, I feel like the anime series is obviously trying to make her too “moe.”
Ace Attorney photo
A Hero On Trial
So Episode 5 is the start of "Turnabout Samurai,” the third case in the original Phoenix Wright game.  Just like the game, it begins with Maya watching “The Steel Samurai: Warrior of Neo Olde Tokyo,” a ...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 3

Apr 30 // Jeff Chuang
In this week's High School Fleet, our boat full of high school frosh girls continue their exercise in running away, via some intrepid naval decisions and challenges. They won by nailing the enemy submarine with their sole depth charge and then by running away. If anything this bit of character building shows us that we may have a handful of misfits and weirdos, but everyone is competent if not excellent at their jobs. It's a bit less common to see a typical submarine battle purely from the surface boat's point of view, so the whole night time warfare aspect of the thing added a little variety in a way. But like my memories of Star Trek, deploying a simple paravane as a way to trip up an enemy U-boat is akin to reprogramming the deflector to solve some mysterious alien challenge. I mean, really?  Well, I probably shouldn't complain too much. The mix of anachronistic stuff is fun to watch, especially when it's so in-your-face. Japanese high school girls struggling to pull the lever to deploy the depth charges? Sure, it's moe, much like putting on faces on your rice balls. And there's the business-as-usual national stereotypes. The German transfer student taking charge of a sub battle by saying it's her specialty to highlight Germany's dependence on its underwater armada during the War? I suppose it's something I can live with, but I am glad that Haifuri probably will only go this far. The officers on the bridge are taking on more personality as they simply get the brunt of the lines every week. In fact I'm glad they are finally dipping into the rest of the crew by slowing rotating those precious lines among this large cast. It's almost too amusing to see, in Engineering, your Scotty archetype in the body of rough-talking little girl, even if she is just as much business as a cranky old Scot. Rotate those monkey wrench, Satoko, because apparently I haven't gotten enough exposure to memorize your name without looking it up, yet. The mystery of Harukaze's mutiny is developing but we haven't seen the plot address much of it, and when it does it happens in between the meat of each episode, which criss-crosses between calm moments at sea or tumultuous naval battles. I think at three episodes in, we can use a bit more exposition! Otherwise, Haifuri might be in a rough stretch if it can't seal the viewer's initial impression at the three episode mark. [Follow Mike-chan's adventure on FUNimation, Crunchyroll and Daisuki!]  
Haifuri photo
German on a boat
When I was growing up I watched a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of the things I liked about the show was all these naval-style battle scenes where Captain Picard would say stuff like, "fire" or "full to starboard...

First Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

Apr 29 // Salvador GRodiles
With a limited timeframe of five to six minutes (not counting the show's opening and ending), each episode of Luluco seems to end right when the segment is about to reach its peak. One moment, our Main Heroine Luluco joins the space patrol to raise money to free her dad from a frozen state, which eventually led to her busting her first criminal. Then things end before we reach that huge bang that gives the segment a proper closure or cliffhanger ending— other than Luluco pointing out that the segment is over. Even though there’s nothing wrong with the show’s premise, every other episode lacked the sparks that piece everything together. In most cases, the audience barely has enough time to take things in. Perhaps the issue with Luluco is that Imaishi’s direction with the show doesn’t work for a five to six-minute format since TRIGGER’s previous shorts felt more complete, such as Inferno Cop. Then again, Imaishi’s direction with the 14th Japan Animator Expo short, “SEX and VIOLENCE with MACHSPEED,” showed us that he could handle a short so it might be that Imaishi and Akira Amemiya don't make a great combo— especially when you compare their collaboration to Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima working on a project together, such as KILL la KILL. Despite the pacing issues with Luluco’s running time, the folks at TRIGGER delivered nicely in the animation and art department. A good chunk of the show’s sequences show off some ridiculous levels of perspective to each character that moves on screen. Then again, this style is a thing that Imaishi and most of the veterans who came from Gainax apply to their animations so it’s something that we can expect from their major projects. To an extent, it reaches a similar level of randomness present in Gainax’s titles like FLCL. Combined with the simplistic array of colors spread across the cast's designs, Luluco’s presentation is one of the best things that the show has to offer. The title’s Panty & Stocking-like look matches the silly tone that the series is going for. I mean, we have alien Street Sharks-like characters and Over Justice, a guy who’s basically Inferno Cop with Kamina’s shades! The show's presentation has a ton of personality and it looks like TRIGGER just wants to use them to mess around while they have fun with their project. If there's another thing that Luluco has going for, it's the relationship between Luluco, Nova and Midori. The idea of pairing up a guy who wants to shoot everything in sight and a girl who was in charge of a criminal organization with a girl who only wants to save her dad worked nicely on TRIGGER’s side, as their interaction made way for some great jokes, such as storyboard joke during the fourth episode's launching sequence and the build-up to Luluco's reaction to the mission. While Luluco’s short length holds the series back a bit, the animation and cast still manage to hold the show together. With the way how the series is going, it might be a show that’s better to watch in one sitting than one that should be seen weekly. However, the next episode might be the one that’ll cause the anime to reach a new level since the newest character has a major connection to Luluco. After all, we just started season two so we can expect TRIGGER to hit us with a huge surprise. [You can Gun Morphing with Space Patrol Luluco at Crunchyroll.]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
There's not enough time for justice
Whenever a show presents itself as a short, it’s important for the staff to establish a beginning, middle and end in the piece. If it’s a comedy, then the jokes have to be properly established so that the viewers ...

First Impressions: Ace Attorney

Apr 24 // Christian Chiok
The series began just like the very first case of the game began—showing off the murder and the culprit. Right off the bat, it already felt rushed and not as dramatic as the game. Afterward, the series introduces Ryuuichi Naruhodou, or rather Phoenix Wright for us English fans, riding his bike heading to his first case ever. While not part of the game, I liked this scene since it’s a common way to introduce the main character of a series.  Then we are introduced to “The First Turnabout,” also known as the tutorial case of the first game. The anime took a less dramatic approach by having a less intense background song during the introduction of the case. Not using the original game soundtrack, and well as using rearranged versions of some of the iconic tracks was definitely something many fans of the series, including myself, found bothersome. It made things feel less authentic. I know some people hate when they use CGI on anime but I personally thought that they pull it off well when they introduced the court. While many fans are complaining that the art style of the series doesn’t match the game, I personally have no complains with it. I do think that the art style is less serious than the game, but it doesn’t take away from the series. Then are introduced to Masashi Yahari, also known as Larry Butz, who is the accused of this case, childhood friend of Phoenix Wright, and the reason why Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney. While the first case does indeed reveal that Larry is the reason Phoenix became an attorney, the series did get a bit ahead of itself showing scenes of what is supposed to appear in latter cases. During the testimony cross-examination sequences, I really like the formats that they are using, but going back to the soundtrack issue, the lack of the original songs such as the famous testimony and cross-examination tracks from the game was disappointing and took away its identity. I did like that they added one of the wrong answers he usually says though. I thought it was a nice touch, especially with this being the first case. Being that the first case/tutorial case was actually short in the game, I felt like it was nicely adapted into the first episode, naturally any longer would have been highly unnecessary. Some stuff felt highly unnecessary like when the witness was pointing his finger at Phoenix, air emitted out of the witness’ hand this pushing down Phoenix, as well as Phoenix’s “Objection! scene, which the same thing again but this time with the witness, blowing his wig off his head. Nevertheless, that scene was great. Starting from the adaptation of the second case, “Turnabout Sisters,” is where the series felt a bit underwhelming since It feels a bit rushed. Starting from Episode 2, we got the main gist of it, such as the crime and the main dialogue with the involved characters.  What makes it feel rushed is that some of the extra details were excluded, which gives a better understanding of the overall case. Both Episode 3 and Episode 4 cover the main gist of the case—the two trials and the interaction with key characters of the case. Cross-examinations and testimonies felt rushed, and even a witness was removed. Things just happened too fast and it feels 25% of this case was removed. I did enjoy when Phoenix Wright was asking multiple questions to the witness though, something very common in the games to squeeze out more information. So far the series is a bit underwhelming, but enjoyable nonetheless. I just feel that it shouldn’t been rushed. If you aren’t familiar with the games, you can still watch it as it could be enjoyable but you aren’t getting the full set. 
Ace Attorney photo
Rushed & Underwhelming Trials
Growing up as handheld gamer during my middle school days, I played many games on the DS including the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. What made Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney more interesting than your average Visual Nove...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 2

Apr 22 // Jeff Chuang
Just so we're on the same page, it's a tradition in the Japanese navy to serve curry for a meal on Friday. It's gotten to the point that Yokosuka, famous for its naval bases, exports curry as its major local eats. You can buy this navy-themed eats in packs and take it home with you. Thanks to anime, manga and games like Kantai Collection, this marriage of curry rice and Navies continue in popular nerd culture. It would be criminally negligent for Haifuri to skip this massive opportunity to play up its moe side. And yes, even today, the cooks of each boat will make curry their own way, resulting a curry rice flavored based on the ship. This is why we have Harukaze curry in episode 2, named after the scrappy destroyer that carry our protagonists. In this week's Haifuri, Mike-chan and crew once again dodges certain death from an attacking boat that outgunned Harukaze's meager weapons. By running in circles while generating a lot of smoke, the Harukaze was able to sneak near the Admiral Graf Spee (a German cruiser) and deal damage to its hull, slowing it down enough so the destroyer can outrun the larger ship. In the process, Harukaze (or Mike-chan specifically) rescues an exchange student who was escaping the Spee on a runabout. As an aside it also turns out the runabouts on board these historic warships are all modern, jet-ski-like. As the episode ends, while our unfortunate students make the best of their poor and beaten ship, Shiro-chan gets an emergency call from the Musashi. The story is comfortably letting the action and character expositions drive our interests at this point, which is good. I think someone actually interested and engaged in Haifuri will need that extra time and attention before the story gets complicated, because the audience is likely still in a "who was her name again" phase of learning the crew. We might now know that the secretary character is a fun person with her acting and the first officer is has a bit of dere once she gets worked around to Mike-chan's bottomless genki. The doctor (I guess she isn't a real doctor?) is a weird one and the group dynamics between the bridge and engineering teams seem to be developing. There was even a shower scene. I suppose adding one more character to this group, at episode 2, is no big deal? The ending animation this time around shows us that there will be a group of characters that the show focuses on. One of them seems to be the girl from the German boat. In some ways it just affirms my concern that how Haifuri can successfully juggle so many characters, but at the same time I think one more person is not going to make any more difference. I think Haifuri has a tall, tall task of making something more compelling by the end of next week's episode. Arguably, on the surface, there's an unexpected war game happening on top of a moe style anime, but discerning viewers would demand more from this formula. But at the same time, there's a lot going on that the more interesting tidbits may get lost. I guess at the very least there's a lot of cute girls running a battleship to look at, and that might be enough. [Haifuri is on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki!]  
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Curry on a boat
At the end of episode 1, Haifuri drops its full name and a cliffhanging curve ball--the protagonists are framed as traitors and attacked one of their own. It's good to learn that the second episode keeps up the pace and follo...

Annotated Anime: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable episode 3

Apr 19 // Josh Tolentino
The big reveal of the episode comes quite quickly, courtesy of what amounts to a director's cut edition of Josuke and Jotaro's interrogation of the defeated Angelo, who notes that, unlike the JoJos, he was given his powers by a strange man wearing a school uniform and wielding a gnarly-looking bow and arrow. It just so happens that the bow and arrow were last seen in the hands of Enya, Dio's confidant and the crazy old lady that Polnareff fought back in Egypt. It seems that someone's been going around handing out Stand powers to anyone that survives their gift, and that someone lives in Morioh. And, as it turns out, it seems that Koichi has come to a similar conclusion (minus the revelations about Stands) independently, thanks to a bit of good old-fashioned detective work. It's refreshing to see that people other than the principal JoJos are competent and capable, though again, given the intro, it's fair to conclude that Koichi will be part of the squad soon enough. In fact, that's likely what will be happening next week, as Koichi gets himself shot through with the very Stand-installing arrow, for the man in a school uniform is one of the Nijimura brothers, the younger of which, Okuyasu, is a Stand user himself. His Stand, The Hand, can "scrape" things into oblivion, and demonstrates the fact by essentially wiping objects, and even spaces from existence, leaving the things on the other side to close in and fill the void. The result is a cool teleporting punch effect that puts to shame a character with a similar gimmick that came out in one of the more recent chapters from Bleach.  Thankfully for our heroes, Okuyasu's kind of a dope, and goes down after taking a few flowerpots to the nads. Koichi remains shot through the throat with the arrow, and gets pulled into the house by Keicho, Okuyasu's brother and the man Jotaro and the rest have been looking for. We'll have to see next week just what the brothers' plans were for the Bow and Arrow, and why they'd need to go around giving Stands to all and sundry, but Diamond is Unbreakable is certainly picking up speed. It'll be interesting to learn just how Okuyasu turns face to become part of the squad later as well. [Catch JoJo's Bizarre Adventure simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]    
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A Wild McGuffin Appears
In today's episode of Diamond is Unbreakable, the plot thickens a tad, shedding more details on just why Morioh is so boned. Similarly, we meet a new foe who will, given the way the OP sequence goes, will be a member of the squad before long.

First Impressions: Haifuri

Apr 14 // Jeff Chuang
Haifuri is an original anime with a large cast of female-only characters. This is something that didn't strike me at all until it was all over, but thanks to that cue, it makes the Girls und Panzer comparison work. Given this element, the play-militaristic take on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, the evoking of WWII-era war machines, and your go-getter cast of characters with a wide variety of schticks, it's inevitable to make that pairing. What bothered me about Haifuri, or rather, High School Fleet, is that fat cat Isoroku. It is a reference to Isoroku Yamamoto, who is probably the most well-known WWII Japanese military commander to the west, as he created the blueprint for Imperial Japan's plan to defeat the USA as the commander of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Well, I guess people do and can look with a sense of romanticism for legendary commanders of their enemy, so many years later, but are we ready to look at Isoroku similar to how we feel about The Desert Fox? Perhaps. I'm guess there's a joke there that I missed, with the whole fat cat at sea thing. I think that is neither here or there, however. The story drops the viewer right in the middle of action half way through the first episode. Like the marketing material, Haifuri episode 1 has a gap where in one scene we're playing out your usual moe high school hijinks, and then in the second half of the episode we're already playing a game of World of Warships, except with teenager girls busy shouting commands to automated systems that simplify the running of a WWII-era destroyer so 30-some-odd kids can do what hundreds of trained sailors did. Maybe World of Warships is not the best game analogy...Spaceteam? It sure seemed fun and not so much a matter of life or death, even if it kind of was. But there is that WoWs aspect to Haifuri. On one hand we have ancient refitted junk naval cruisers that are over a century old, on the other hand we have sleek futuristic ships blasting autocannon rounds and missiles (and can be operated by one person). If the story is about our adorable protagonists bonding over their naval trials, where Girls und Panzer shined, then the focus wouldn't be on the boats or the fact that they're on a boat, or even Isoroku and the other military otaku nods, but hearty, solid character development. And that just brings us back to the fact that Haifuri has dozens of protagonists onboard the Harekaze. The official English website has a helpful page that gives you a little profile on each one of them, as keeping them straight beyond the first handful will be difficult at this point. The captain, Mike-chan, looks up to her dad, who also captains a ship. Shiro-chan, who is her second in command, plays the straight man in the bridge bunny comedy scenes. The rest of the cast are full of eccentric, if oddly well-trained, characters that would not make up any normal high school class. But I guess that's not the point. What is the point is that this first episode was both fun and well put-together. Throwing the viewer a nasty curve ball at the end helps to drag us to the next episode, since mutiny isn't a term you'd expect from this genre--although it does occasionally happen in other shows of this kind. It would be safe to say that I'm at least curious where Haifuri will go next, even if it isn't exactly in uncharted waters. [It's on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Daisuki!]
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She's on a boat
Keeping up with the news, one thing that I knew about Haifuri before watching the first episode was that it's about a bunch of moe high school girls working as some kind of sea patrol. The soft designs and color schemes on th...

Final Impressions: Myriad Colors Phantom World

Apr 12 // Nick Valdez
One thing I could never fault Phantom World for, thanks to Kyoto Animation's style and love of fluid animation, was its visuals. Regardless of where the story didn't go, the show remained watchable due to how pretty everything was. KyoAni isn't necessarily at the top of the production game, but most of the time their style is a saving grace. For example, one of the main gags was how many times Haruhiko found himself flung across spaces. A common trope, for sure, but these throws rarely looked the same twice. It's just a shame that the fights never quite lived up to their potential. Phantom World was never really focused on fights, so when some of them end up looking super great I was starved for more. But in the same breath, anime adaptations can't rest on visuals alone.  For the entirety of its run I couldn't quite figure out what Phantom World wanted to accomplish. At some times it seemed like a show that wanted to tell a story about kids dealing with Phantoms (and to a lesser extent, deal with the destinies unwantingly placed upon them), then it became a monster of the week show, then a few episodes focused on a singular gag, and then in some sort of last ditch effort, it tried a serious and emotional arc toward the end. Like I had been fearing all along.  In the final three episodes, a super phantom named Enigma began attacking ability users and stealing their powers. Since phantoms weren't successfully built into a credible threat through the season, it seemed weird to suddenly ramp up the tension this way. It's a clearly rushed endgame ringing hollow as we're told that this particular phantom poses a threat when others were clearly treated as jokes before. But the major through line of this final arc was Haruhiko's missing mother. Apparently she walked out on him years before and suddenly Haruhiko's depressed. Even when the show had multiple opportunities to bring up this backstory (such as the episode where Izumi was afraid of what her parents might think of her phantom hunting) or invest any time in Haruhiko at all (so he could at least develop beyond the guy who delivers exposition). Anyway, as Enigma wreaks havoc across the town she accumulates all sorts of neat abilities. Including the ability to pose as Haruhiko's mother.  In the midst of all this, as the rest of the phantom hunting club believes they're talking with Haruhiko's mother, they reveal they all had a bit of a crush on Haruhiko. Once again, there was very little build up to this little development but thankfully that never quite becomes the focus. In fact, the series ends without any of those cliched romantic entanglements anyway. The final battle itself passes by without much fanfare and Haruhiko saves the day by fully summoning the cutesy phantoms he's used in the past. So I guess all the character evolution I've wanted from the series was saved for Haruhiko himself. I'll admit I'm being a bit harsh since KyoAni is at least trying to salvage the series at the end, but it's such a disappointing foray overall. Each week things just kind of happened. It's even hard to summarize the final couple of episodes because there's not much more than a logline's worth of material in each. Everything is so hollow, it's like the series wanted to embody the textbook definition of "Phantom." A lingering spirit of a good premise.  When all is said and done, there's no real reason to search out Myriad Colors Phantom World for yourself. It never quite figured out what kind of series it wanted to be and that confusion kept it from becoming something truly engaging. You can try and argue that it's some sort of "turn off your brain" entertainment without a real message, but it was clearly trying to tell a story at its end.  Besides, why would you seek out a form of entertainment that offers you nothing but background noise? If you're looking for cheap entertainment there are plenty of anime that provide that already. Shows that know you're watching them because of stuff like cool visuals and do their best to provide just that. We as an audience deserve something better than a show with an identity crisis every week. 
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Myriad of rushed conclusions
If you've been following along with my occasional thoughts on Myriad Colors Phantom World, you've no doubt noticed how many times I've gone back and forth on the series as a whole. While folks in the comments suggested that I...

First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable

Apr 10 // Josh Tolentino
It starts with the beginning. Previous JoJo's parts - or at least their animated versions - invariably began with some kind of epic setup scene: Phantom Blood opened on the carriage accident that first tied together Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando's fathers, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to their battle. Battle Tendency started at the expedition that discovered the Pillar Men, who would be the prime antagonists for that arc. Stardust Crusaders began as Dio's coffin was pulled from the depths of the sea. Diamond is Unbreakable starts with breakfast. A hand prepares a hearty meal of bacon, eggs, and toast as a radio DJ greets the morning in the small town of Morioh. It's all well and good until the music starts to distort, revealing that the hand isn't actually attached to anyone. I've yet to see the significance of this grotesque tableau, but the shift in tone and presentation for this part in the JoJo's saga is clear enough to see. Diamond is Unbreakable focuses more on characters than events, where Morioh, its environs, and the people outside the main cast are just as significant as the superpowers and battles to come. In fact, there's little sense of crisis in the initial episode, a style unprecedented for JoJo's so far. Phantom Blood traded in scenes of domestic bliss, sure, but the feeling of fateful tension ran through every such occurrence. Here, there's little to do but play "Getting to Know You", with Jotaro and young Koichi serving as our lens for seeing the JoJo of 1999, Josuke Higashikata. Apparently the love child of old Joseph Joestar, the 16-year-old high-schooler is the 28-year-old Jotaro's uncle, technically. To be honest, he doesn't make the best first impression. Other than resorting to violence at the first mention of his weird hair, he's less obviously heroic, kowtowing to bullies in a way that no previous JoJo would countenance - at least until they insult his do.  As he rolls into his first fight, with the murderer/rapist Angelo and his Stand Aqua Necklace, we see more of what he's capable of. There's a level of quick-thinking and misdirection at work that recalls the creativity of old Joseph, but his personality and character are as yet a bit undefined. No matter, though. As I mentioned, Diamond is Unbreakable stands out for having a much stronger presence from minor characters. Josuke's mom is a treasure on par with Lisa Lisa in a series that's had a paucity of compelling female presences. His grandfather, an aging policeman, serves as an Uncle Ben of sorts for Josuke by dying to strengthen his heroic resolve, but like uncle Ben, his presence can't be discounted. And of course there's Jotaro, in a snazzy white outfit and playing the role of elder mentor to the young bucks.  Morioh itself seems to be a star of sorts in Diamond is Unbreakable, as well. Where all the previous parts preferred to play the jet-setter, traveling abroad quickly and never halting the journey, it seems this portion of the Bizarre Adventure will be taking place close to home. This ought to be an interesting development, one that seems to foreshadow the appeal of even other media, like the Persona games. It's a bit early to pass judgment as yet, but so far Diamond is Unbreakable  seems quite solid, both as a JoJo's show and as a departure from the aspects of the brand that have risked feeling trite after many, many episodes and chapters of development. I can't wait to see what's coming to town next. [Catch more of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on Crunchyroll!]
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A Crazy Diamond in the Rough
I honestly didn't know what to expect going into David Production's latest phase in adapting the epic JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, Diamond is Unbreakable. Besides some background details gleaned from Wikipedia and the...

Japanator's Spring 2016 Anime Preview Guide!

Apr 01 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]34850:5522:0[/embed] Mayoiga Studio: Diomedea Broadcasting: April 1, 2016  Mayoiga might be a dark horse of this spring, and not just because original anime productions tend to be the dark horses in these adaptation-dominated days. For one, it's got some notable talent behind it, including Tsutomu Mizushima, director of my two favorite anime of the last two years (Girls und Panzer and Shirobako), and Mari Okada, the popular but divisive screenwriter of Ano Hana and Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Second, this story of people visiting a mysterious, uninhabited village after signing up to a weird bus tour is an actual crowdfunding success. The anime industry has met with mixed results from its flirtations with crowdfunding campaigns, but this is one of the few times a full-featured seasonal series has made it onto the airwaves.   [embed]34850:5523:0[/embed] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Studio: David Productions Broadcasting: April 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Need I say more? It's JoJo's! The next step in David Production's lengthy plan to adapt all the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga continues into the roaring '90s, starring a new fellow named Josuke Higashikata. Diamond Is Unbreakable is a wide favorite among JoJo's fans, even beyond the better-known Stardust Crusaders. I myself will admit that I haven't read the original manga version, so Josuke's small-town Stand-wielding adventures will be new to me.   [embed]34850:5524:0[/embed] Terra Formars: Revenge Studio: Liden Films Broadcasting: April 2, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) I never quite cottoned onto Terra Formars, despite its tonal similarities to the parts of Attack on Titan that I liked. That said, it did turn out to be an alright, properly absurd edgy battle show, one whose other positive qualities ultimately outweighed the super racist-looking designs on the Martian roach-men. Perhaps the fans saw past that as well, because if certain rumors are true, it's due to the show's solid performance on foreign streaming services like Crunchyroll that Terra Formars is getting a new season at all. As for me, I'm looking forward to the ways they plan to weaponize obscure insects and animals in a recreation of a modern-day, Japanese take on the old Visionaries cartoon.   [embed]34850:5525:0[/embed] Ace Attorney Studio: A-1 Studios Broadcasting: April 2, 2016 Ace Attorney or Gyakuten Saiban, as it's known in Japan, is perhaps the greatest evidence both for and against the practice of localization, i.e. adapting content to suit the culture and language it's being sold to. I love the Ace Attorney games. They're are all pretty well-written and practically ooze character and charm. The problem is is that this anime is called Gyakuten Saiban. I'm attached to some schlub lawyer named "Phoenix Wright" and his pals "Mia Fey" and her sister "Maya Fey". I don't know "Ryuuichi Naruhodou" and his friends. Still, stories are stories, so we can hope that it carries over well enough,   [embed]34850:5526:0[/embed] Macross Delta Studio: Satelight Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 Wow, has it really been seven years since Macross Frontier? I would've thought they'd be less content to sit on it the way they have, considering that every year brings a new Gundam or two, but here we are. I've actually been avoiding contact with Macross Delta and its new story of mysterious diseases that can only be cured by the power of song, Valkyrie-piloting idol groups, knightly Valkyrie orders. Still, based on the lengthy previews available online, things are looking up.   [embed]34850:5527:0[/embed] Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear Studio: Kinema Citrus Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 This one isn't quite another Polar Bear Cafe; The miko in question isn't the bear, but a human named Machi, tending to the shrine where the bear, Natsu, is worshipped. The twist here is where the bear is the worldly one: Machi's a complete bumpkin with no knowledge of the modern world, and Natsu's great bear knowledge includes the vagaries of society, technology, and rice cookers. Kinema Citrus is on a roll of sorts with the warm family comedies after Barakamon, and they may be playing to their strengths with this show.   [embed]34850:5528:0[/embed] Joker Game Studio: Production I.G.  Broadcasting: April 5, 2016 (Broadcasting on Crunchyroll) Japan doesn't have the best track record for exploring its imperial period, but recent stories like Night Raid 1931 and portions of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu have been braver about exploring this more modern, more divisive period. Joker Game, an espionage-themed mystery thriller set just before Japan joined World War II, appears to be taking after Night Raid 1931 in its tone and premise. With a Ghost in the Shell director onboard, we could be looking at a cool, historical take on Standalone Complex, or at least Arise.    [embed]34850:5529:0[/embed] Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Studio: White Fox Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) A young Japanese high school student living an ordinary life gets dropped into a strange and unfamiliar world. Sound like seemingly every light novel adaptation ever made? You wouldn't be wrong, but Re:ZERO's twist will either make or break the show: Time rewinding. Ordinary high-schooler Natsuki Subaru returns to the moment he arrived in the other world whenever he gets killed, remembering everything that happened up to that point. It's more All You Need Is Kill/Edge of Tomorrow and Groundhog Day rather than ERASED or Steins;Gate, and while that storm of names obviously means the gimmick isn't nearly as novel as it could be, some solid direction and writing could make the show sing in a way most others in its genre don't.   [embed]34850:5530:0[/embed] Kiznaiver Studio: Trigger Broadcasting: April 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Some of the luster may have come off of the Trigger brand since the cute-but-forgettable When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace and the divisive Ninja Slayer, but the studio's still around, and still has a ton of talent. As for the story itself, I find its central idea of a weird system that links people together by having them share their wounds on a physical level seems a bit on the nose as a way of securing world peace. But hey, we don't have that in real life, and the world's definitely not at peace, so what do I know?   [embed]34850:5531:0[/embed] Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Studio: Studio DEEN Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 (Streaming via Hulu) Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto has one joke, and it's that the titular Sakamoto is the best. The best at what, you ask? Everything. He's just super awesome at everything he does and seems to know it. That's a problem when the premise anchors something serious like Sword Art Online (ha!) but it's golden when it's the core of a gag show. Already in the trailer I'm seeing it as something like Mahouka through the lens of Cromartie High School or Tonari no Seki-kun.  Studio DEEN has been on a hot streak lately with arguably the best show of last season and solid comedies like Konosuba, so let's hope they can continue the trend.   [embed]34850:5532:0[/embed] Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Studio: Wit Studio Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 A lot of fans were disappointed when it was announced that the next season of Attack on Titan would be delayed to give time for the manga to build up more material. This new project from Studio Wit and the Attack on Titan team feels like them trying to fill that void. I'm not even being facetious: Kabaneri looks like an off-brand Attack on Titan, set more in a steampunk early-Meiji-period Japan (called "Hinomoto") than a quasi-European countryside. Mankind lives in walled cities called Stations and travels in ironclad armored steam trains to escape the threat of giant, iron-skinned zombie-men called Kabane. Sound familiar? I thought so.  That's not necessarily a problem, though. The animation looks good, the character designs pleasantly retro, and to be frank the Attack on Titan template is far from completely exhausted. Besides, I wasn't that hot on Attack on Titan myself, so having Wit try their hand at something original in that vein might be a good way to see just where my problems with it lie.   [embed]34850:5533:0[/embed] My Hero Academia Studio: Bones Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 (Streaming via FUNimation) Now here's the hype monster. My Hero Academia is the big Shonen JUMP hit of its time, and excitement to see BONES - a studio known for top-shelf animation - adapt the manga has been through the roof. I'll admit that I have yet to read a chapter of the thing despite having a subscription to JUMP, but as a reader of western superhero comics, the premise has me intrigued. On the surface, it's bog-standard "earnest boy protagonist" stuff, but seeing Midoriya strive to become a hero as the only unpowered boy in a school full of superpowered kids ought to be engaging. And the presentation is up there with some of BONE's best.   [embed]34850:5534:0[/embed] Bakuon!! Studio: TMS Entertainment Broadcasting: April 4, 2016 "Cute girls riding motorcycles" would be the quickest way to describe Bakuon!!, and...well, I'm having difficulty saying much more than that. To its credit, though, I am getting a sort of Girls und Panzer vibe from it, in that the show (or its trailers, at least) seems to understand that "cute girls" and [insert subject matter] are equal parts of the whole when it comes to making widely entertaining moe, rather than simple fodder for otaku. Not even a favorite moe show of mine, K-ON!, truly understood that.   [embed]34850:5535:0[/embed] Bungo Stray Dogs  Studio: Bones  Broadcasting: April 6, 2016 Osamu Dazai. Doppo Kunikida. If you know those two names, but don't know anything about Bungo Stray Dogs,  then congratulations: You're more familiar with Japanese literature than most outsiders, or are capable of using Wikipedia.  In any case, Bungo is more than just a nickname frustrated Destiny players use for their developer of choice, but also the key to understanding this mystery detective show. The names above are code names, drawn from the history of literature, and the people bearing those names have powers apparently related to the works of those authors. It's like having a guy in your squad named Chuck Palahniuk who suffers from a split personality and is really good at beating people up and not talking about it. If nothing else, Bones appears to be aiming to make this one its marquee production, putting director Takuya Igarashi on it. Among other things he helmed Star Driver and Captain Earth, two shows that were very pretty, if not always narratively satisfying.    [embed]34850:5536:0[/embed] Kuromukuro Studio: P.A. Works Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 Given that P.A. Works made its name on personal, often high-school-based fantasy soaps, you'd think they'd spend their 15th Anniversary making one of those. I can't say I'm unhappy to see that they're instead making what looks to be a samurai mecha anime.  Kuromukuro's premise is fairly standard for the times, in which a time-lost samurai gets transported to an alternate 2016 in which mecha are standard equipment in life and industry. What's less standard is the involvement Tensai Okamura, director of Darker Than BLACK and writing staff that had a hand in Moribito.
Spring 2016 Anime Preview photo
New blooms, new shows!
It may be April 1st today, but it's also the start of the Spring Anime Preview, which means that folks can have fun with boisterous humor and anticipation for the latest in Japanese cartoon goodness. This is Japanator's Spring 2016 Anime Preview Guide! Head on below for a roundup of the most notable anime series of the quarter, and tell us in the comments about what you're planning to watch!

Annotated Anime: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika episodes 11 & 12

Mar 27 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 11 We pick up a little bit after the first round of the competition from the last episode. The Brass Band club has made it through City and prefectural competition and is now at the regional Class B competition level. Good for them! As the club is waiting for practice they are met with a strange woman. After Naoko finds that the piano they have to practice with is out of tune, this woman, named Motoko, challenges Naoko to make something beautiful even after finding out the piano isn't up to snuff. She then pulls out a musicaa (a reed instrument with a keyboard on it, pay attention to the opening of this song and you will see what it is) and plays. It turns out this woman has a link to Mr. Kusakabe, making Haruta jealous immediately. She's the granddaughter of his music teacher. We find out there is a mystery surrounding a piano that belonged to her grandfather and that she was the only one told about the key to its keyboard. The "mystery" here isn't nearly as heavy as some of the others have been. Eventually, they find the answer to the key but comes completely out of left field with little clues leading to it. But this episode seemed more than just the mystery as  Motoko and Naoko form a weird bond that you only find out the true depth of until nearly the end of the show. To be honest I'm not quite sure what this episode was trying to accomplish. We do find out some more of Mr. Kusakabe's past in this, and that he wasn't always the nice kind hearted teacher he is to the Brass band club, but at the same time, that information seemed like an aside. Not a terrible episode, but probably not the best-written episode. The resolution comes out of nowhere with no hint of where things were going and the point of the episode is a muddled and not quite clear. Let's hope the finale is more on point. Episode 12 The finals of the competition are next week so everyone is nervous. However, something pops up that makes Haruta and Chika panic as it looks like Mr. Kusakabe may be leaving them.  The episode opens right up with the class advisoer meeting with two men. With his snooping we find out that Mr. Kusakabe is being offered a conductorship for a big orchestra again. Haruta, of course, is devastated ad Chika isn't thrilled either., but they keep the secret to themselves. However, Haruta wants to tell Mr. Kusakabe how he feels before the teacher leaves. This leads the two kids to follow him. The mystery they solve is the big one. You find out why Mr. Kusakabe ditched his conductorship that has been an underlying theme of the entire show. You don't get any specifics, but you get enough to know why he did what he did. No dramatic reveals or clues or anything, but the ongoing mystery is solved. The show then runs the credits but there is still a third of the show left. We see everyone pcking up and going to the regional contest and we see them play. It's a really touching moment in the series as you see POeople in the crowd calling back to previous episodes and harkens back to the past episodes. Miyo's parents are there holding a picture of her and her brother together, Muren's parents are there, Naoko and her aunt are there, the reporter and Matoko are there too. After that, we find out the results. Not going to spoil it, but we also find out Mr. Kusakabe's decision as well as Naoko's feeling as well. If you followed the series up until now, this part of the episode is the most emotional of the entire series. Whatever they were lacking up until this point in the episode, the after credits scenes more than makeup for. It's not the best series finale I've seen. Heck, I don't even think it's the best episode of this series, but at the same time it's not terrible and it does wrap things up without being nightmarish bad like the Magikano ending or something similar. Its pacing is a little weird. Heck, I'd have put all the stuff with Mr. Kusakabe in the last episode with Motoko and I think it would have played out better, but for what was giving, it was all right. We pick up a little bit after the first round of the competition from the last episode. The Brass Band club has made it through City and prefectural competition and is now at the regional Class B competition level. Good for them!   As the club is waiting for practice they are met with a strange woman. After Naoko finds that the piano they have to practice with is out of tune, this woman, named Motoko, challenges Naoko to make something beautiful even after finding out the piano isn't up to snuff. She then pulls out a musicaa (A reed instrument with a keyboard on it, pay attention to the opening of this song and you will se what it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB1Q-PfUvN0)   It turns out this woman has a link to Mr. Kusakabe, making Haruta jealous immediately. She's the granddaughter of his music teacher. We find out there is a mystery surrounding a piano that belonged to her grandfather and that she was the only one told about the key to its keyboard.   The "mystery" here isn't nearly as heavy as some of the others have been. Eventually they find the answer to the key, but comes completely out of left field with little clues leading to it. But this episode seemed more than just the mystery as  Motoko and Naoko form a weird bond that you only find out the true depth of until nearly the end of the show.   To be honest I'm not quite sure what this episode was trying to accomplish. We do find out some more of Mr. Kusakabe's past in this, and that he wasn't always the nice kind hearted teacher he is to the Brass band club, but at the same time that information seemed like an aside.   Not a terrible episode, but probably not the best written episode. The resolution comes out of nowhere with no hint of wear things were going and the point of the episode is a muddled and not quite clear. Let's hope the finale is more on point.
Haruchika photo
The end of the song
We've come to the end of the line for Haruchika as we look at the last two episodes of the short series. How will things end and what mysteries will get solved. Let's take a look.

Final Impressions: Oshiete! Galko-chan

Mar 25 // Anthony Redgrave
A very different episode for the finale of Oshiete! Galko-chan. We are taken to the start of the second year where cliques are already starting to form; there's the Gyaru (the popular students), honour students (I guess we know them as preppies), and finally the outsiders which are the people that don't exist in those two categories. In this show that means they're the students that like heavy metal and horror movies. However "Otako" doesn't exist in any of these groups, not even an outsider as she finds reading by herself far less troublesome than socialising, also known as the Oreki philosophy. And then she meets "Galko".  The origin story of how the three friends became friends is something I didn't think we needed exploring for a slice of life anime about asking and answering questions. Anime viewers are accustomed to wacky and weird people socialising together without needing an explanation, let alone spending half an episode to explain and show it. For a show like Galko-chan, it works as a thematic closure. "Galko" is the walking talking definition of misinterpreted stereotyping. In a class full of these stereotypes, "Galko" is always shown to look one way but react in another and even though we see her as a saint or a deeper character behind all the makeup and fashion, she too falls in the ways of stereotyping other people.  The origin story takes up the majority of the episode with the second half only briefly completing "Galko's" character arc of making it to class on time if that can be counted as an overarching series character arc. This episode has a typical slice of life ending. Students head home with the promise of more fun ahead. It's an ending I detest personally as it leaves the series open-ended without anything gained or lost. Oshiete! Galko-chan was a good show to keep me occupied throughout the winter season. The show didn't retain its signature question answer format opting for more character introductions in the latter episodes which I found a little disappointing but I did enjoy the overall light-hearted take on more mature topics in a slice of life anime. The short episode length was also nice as they didn't overstay their welcome with filler or fan service. The show knew how to keep everything succinct and snappy and the bright colorful palette of visuals meant it was fantastic to watch. I'll be eager for a second season or OVA of this show. Oshiete! Galko-chan is a great little anime with an interesting concept, beautiful designs, and a great pace. I picked up some interesting facts while watching this show making it hard to say anything bad about entertaining education. Even if it's facts about Female Hygiene, the genito-urinary system, and breasts.  Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan It's not even their real names! I feel like I've been lied to the whole series "Ideology as Learned from a Cat" sounds like a really interesting read but I feel that it's just a book full of Garfield strips The return of "Galko's" sister as a start of a model magazine called "GAL AGE". Very interesting cover model choice since it's a lady with no eyes I kinda want to know what pill "Otako" received. Is it paracetamol, Ibuprofen? Common painkillers I would've thought "Otako" would know about "Ojou" is a sneaky third wheeler "Galko's" observation skills are very impressive. Detective Conan eat your heart out "Galko" may have come to class early to talk but then she falls asleep. One step forward and two steps back. [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll]
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
When Galko met Otako
Slice of Life with a school background is a genre that is overplayed in anime. Used to capture the youthful adolescence of an endless high school as characters transition from immature teenagers to adults often fails in ...

Annotated Anime: Oshiete! Galko-chan episode 11

Mar 20 // Anthony Redgrave
Even though the show has a Hollywood grade A starlet in the looks department, she doesn't flaunt those curves for the camera every time she is on screen. There is some cheesecake here and there as expected by anime standards except it refrains from the ridiculous perversive situations of a typical harem ecchi. Apart from this episode which has a silly premise right off the bat. The question of the show asks 'whether strange things happen in the school hallways' and the scenario features Otao skipping class due to his anaemia. On his way back he hides when he hears the girls coming back from swimming class. Suffice to stay he isn't spotted despite taking peeking lessons from Tony Tony Chopper. Cue punch line of Japanese nosebleed after erotica.  It's a typical slice of life fan-service gag formula downplayed since Galko-chan hardly makes these kinds of jokes. The shows comedic strengths were always in the situations sometimes sexy and the reactions from it, often Galko's. This, however, is more voyeuristic and a tad perverse which doesn't suit the show. I didn't feel the gag worked and was just an excuse to see the girls in school bathing suits. Since the show's premise is based on asking questions, it'd be more appropriate if all the girls were asking about different hair types and how the reacted to water or even the difficulty of swimming different strokes. That way there is a reason for them to be in swimming costumes and discussing these topics. Instead, the show asks a question that I doubt has ever been asked and used it to show girls in school swimsuits without really answering the question.  The following sections are more entertaining than the start. We join an un-named character shrouded by bangs ordering a coffee before observing Galko's actions. Of course, as Galko dresses in Gyaru fashion, she is immediately typecast as a Valley Girl sort. We view Galko from her eyes as she sees what we already know about Galko; childish, expressive, and embarrassed over adult material (which apparently is BL). This scene is linked to the next one in the classroom where the class is learning about the different utensils throughout time to wipe your bottom. Some interesting facts if true. From a character perspective, we learn that Galko likes to over share some information with her bestie Otako. From my experience, it isn't unusual for girls to share this information over SMS although it's best not to pry too far into a maiden's text log.  For the next recreational class activity, the whole class is open to nominations and voting of movies. Despite not winning with Galko-chan's choice of a direct to DVD movie (could it really be that good!?) Ojou is generous enough to allow Galko to watch it on her home cinema screen with Otako rolling the whole thing into a slumber party. The actual event is nothing to go on about as it is covered in still images of their activities. Before heading off, Otako debates the most important of feminine hygiene questions; should I take pads in case of a period. I really liked Otako's imagination of Ojou. It was something out of left field and carried an old joke regarding Ojou's choice of period products. After next week, we'll have to be bidding goodbye to the blonde high school girl that teaches us things. I really hope the last episode will be better in the question department. I'll be expecting the extra amount of fan service seeing it is a season finale with Galko's sister's eyes finally being revealed! Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan People used swan necks for what!? Back and forth! The nurse looks cute but I can't shake the fact it looks like Otao's mom What the hell is Naked Eating? Is it like Naked Gun? From Otako's imagination, I expected Ojou's house to be the Playboy Mansion Aku-On! sounds like K-On mixed with Wolf Children. Looks like an H-game. [update 03.21.16] The Mangaka has posted on his twitter about the cast of Naked Eating [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan Ojou VA does the narration, and it's adorable The faceless narrator has an adorable voice Ojou has her own sound effect Otao represents 90% of the viewer base for Galko-chan Nikuko has the god-like breast control whilst running [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll]
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
Galko x Ojou
I'm not sure what to think of Galko-chan nowadays. The last few episodes have been ho-hum since I'm not learning much but we're getting a lot more slice of life character introductions. It's becoming something that is the same and when I loved it when it was different. Oh! Galko-chan.. you're tearing me apart!

Annotated Anime: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika episodes 8-10

Mar 18 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 8 Straight up, this episode is bizarre as hell. It is either being really metaphorical or someone lost their damn mind but the imagery here leaves you scratching your head. Things open up decent enough. There are two months left until qualifications for the B class finals for the Brass club. The "friend" of Naoko's who was also the person behind the mysterious radio show has joined the group. He is a first year named Kaiyuu. But this episode revolves around Naoko, the girl we met a few episodes ago who is losing her hearing. It seems her aunt who has been living in Australia is moving back to Japan and wants Naoko to live with her. Naoko, of course, doesn't want to. For some reason, Naoko's aunt is seeing a "First Love Sommelier" who is one of the upperclassman based on the first floor along with the other weirdo clubs we've seen in previous episodes. Haruta and Chika go to check things out with Naoko. This is where things get really weird. It seems Auntie's first love is tied to Onigiri, so as they are being prepared she tells this story of  a small child being lost in the woods and meeting "The children of the forest" who are a bunch of anthropomorphic animals. She meets a bear guy named Benjant and helps him make onigiri for the others. She goes and feeds the birds and comes back, seeing some leftovers. She takes one bit and Benjant sees her, BEFORE HE ATTACKS HER. She is made an outcast as a result. And the whole point of this is that she can meet Benjant again. Is this some weird illusion to her being raped or something? I'm totally missing something here. Anyway, the rest of the episode plays out with Naoko, Haruta, Chika, and the Sommelier going to stop Naoko's aunt and we find out, at least, part of the story of just what the hell she was talking about. If only a little bit. Outside of that confusing part, there is a lot in this episode that explores the relationship between Naoko and Chika. While it was painted out in previous episodes that Naoko wouldn't give Chika a second thought, we find out that Naoko actually has admiration for Chika in that she has friends. Naoko even offers to give Chika a "one day lesson" to help with her flute playing. So in all, if you actually ignore the bizarre main story line nearly completely, you find there are some real touching moments in the episode. But the main plot IS there, so this one isn't one of their best shows.   Episode 9 This episode is more like it. Something more normal and not some weird illusionist stuff about a bear man and forest children. When Mr. Kusakabe falls faint, we find out he's been advising a Brass band from the upper-class high school close by while their advisor is out on a suspension. The school's students don't know why the teacher known as "The Gorilla" was suspended, but they report he had been acting very strange the last few weeks and mysteriously was rearranging the seating assignments in his homeroom class. Haruta dives right in, since he wants Mr. Kusakabe only for their class, in wanting to find out why The Gorilla was suspended, so, of course, Chika jumps in as well. However, Kaiyuu also joins them in finding out what was going on. We really get to see Kaiyuu in this episode. It turns out he is as good a problem-solver as Haruta is. As he says "I spent a lot of time around old people, I've learned a lot of superfluous things." You notice he always has his drumsticks with him and is often tapping away. He seems to get along with others really well. Great showing more of him as a person. The story plays itself out well as we meet and hear from those around the mystery teach and what may have lead to his suspension. The clues actually make sense and there are no great leaps between clues and plot points. Everything seems to flow in a good line and does end up giving you a twist ending or anything like they did with the old man artist and his trip to America a few episodes ago. No denying that for me, this is a much better episode than the last one. The plot not only was realistic and made a lot more sense, but everything lined up perfectly from beginning to end. What the last episode lacked this one made up for in spades.   Episode 10 The competition is here! It's the morning of the big competition and the Brass Band club is gathering together in the meeting hall. Seems Chika had a heck of a morning as she saved a little kid who had fallen out of a window. Seriously? Yup, poor Chika hurt her wrist and hip catching the tumbling toddler, but she says she is okay. However, both Haruta and  Mr. Kusakabe are not here yet. Seems Haruta found himself a friend. This episode is obviously just a primer for the next two episodes with shoehorning in a mystery about who is the owner of this large dog. Don't get me wrong, it is still a good episode, but with only 2 episodes left and it being the morning of the big competition, you know that there are bigger things to come in the final two episodes. The mystery is simple, Haruta finds a dog that is worth a lot of money and two people claim it is theirs. A little girl and some guy.  Haruta and Chika have to solve the mystery in a short amount of time before they have to run back to practice for the competition. Honestly, when trying to find the answer I over thought it out and came to a much different and more complex explanation, but the answer was much simpler than I had guessed. Things seem to be setting up nicely already. Besides paying off the season long main storyline of the competition itself, you have a somewhat shifty reporter hanging around who knows a lot about Mr. Kusakabe, and you even have an appearance from "The Gorilla" and his club who let Chika and her club use their practice room since they perform much earlier.   An interesting batch of episodes here. Episode 8 is really nuts with no explanation as to what the hell was going on there, but 9 and 10 are both pretty straight forward.  The finale is coming up so things are set up for something interesting to happen. We shall see where the ending takes us. Strait up, this episode is bizarre as hell. It is either being really metaphorical or someone lost their damn mind but the imagery here leaves you scratching your head.     Things open up decent enough. There are two months left until qualifications for the B class finals for the Brass club. The "friend" of Naoko's who was also the person behind the mysterious radio show has joined the group. He is a first year named Kaiyuu.     But this episode revolves around Naoko, the girl we met a few episodes ago who is losing her hearing. It seems her aunt who has been living in Australia is moving back to Japan and wants Naoko to live with her. Naoko of course doesn't want to. For some reason Naoko's aunt is seeing a "First Love Sommelier" who is one of the upperclassman based on the first floor along with the other weirdo clubs we've seen in previous episodes. Haruta and Chika go to check things out with Naoko.     Things is where things get really weird. It seems Auntie's first love is tied to Onigiri, so as they are being prepared she tells this story of her as a small child being lost in the woods and meeting "The children of the forest" who are a bunch of anthromorphic animals. She meets a bear guy named Benjant and helps him make oniguri for the others. She goes and feeds the birds and comes back, seeing some left overs. She takes one bit and Benjant sees her, BEFORE HE ATTACKS HER. She is made an outcast as a result.     And the whole point of this is that she can meet Benjant again. Is this some weird illusion to her being raped or something? I'm totally missing something here.     Anyway the rest of the episode plays out with Naoko, Haruta, Chika, and the Sommelier going to stop Naoko's aunt and we find out at least part of the story of just what the hell she was talking about. If only a little bit.     Outside of that confusing part, there is a lot in this episode that explores the relationship between Naoko and Chika. While it was painted out in previous episodes that Naoko wouldn't give Chika a second thought, we find out that Naoko actually has admiration for Chika in that she has friends. Naoko even offers to give Chika a "one day lesson" to help with her flute playing.   So in all, if you actually ignore the bizarre main story line nearly completely, you find there are some real touching moments in the episode. But the main plot IS there, so this one isn't one of there best shows.  
Haruchika photo
Yeah, things get weird
We are closing in on the end of Haruchika: Haruta and Chika, the big concert competition is fast approaching and all the members of the Brass band club we will meet are here. We have a concert to perform and mysteries to solve! Let's jump right in.

Annotated Anime: Myriad Colors Phantom World episodes 7-9

Mar 15 // Nick Valdez
Episode 7 Each episode of Phantom World starts with Haruhiko elaborating on the episode's central idea. Some episodes it's a scientific theory, and others it's some sort of philosophical idea. As he explains Schrodinger's cat experiment (where a cat is stuck in box with poison and is technically both alive and dead until someone confirms otherwise), subtly all but goes out the window as a loose phantom turns everyone in the school into cats. Well, anime cats (so just cat ears and tails) anyway. As the series amplifies its cute premises and character designs, the stakes aren't as huge. And while this was a negative at first, it ends up being a comfortable groove for the series to settle into. All these cat ears also tie into the mission of the week, finding a little girl's lost cat. The Phantom Hunting club then heads into an abandoned school building where cats used to hang out in search of the Phantom and then Kyoto's affinity for crazy visuals kicks in. Crazy hallucinations, the myriad of colors the title's been promising since inception, and an awesome Phantom design (leading to a literal interpretation of "house cat"). Then the episode ends with none of the characters growing or learning anything. But that's okay for now.  Episode 8 When a hot spring suddenly appears in the middle of the school, we get a continuation of the fun from last episode. Instead of weighing itself down with things like story or character development, Phantom World decides to amp up everything that's actually working. Unfortunately that comes with a bit more perverse jokes (and finally dipping into the harem trappings), but to balance it out we finally get a look at something I've wanted from the beginning. When the show started, it said the new generation of kids got powers through mutation and I've wanted to see more of those powers since then. As student after student fights the phantom-of-the-week (a gang of perverted monkeys), it's both visually interesting and humorous. Some of the jokes were clumsy, but I laughed quite a bit. It's a shame that it took eight episodes for me Phantom World to finally feel like a complete show.  Gags were influenced by character quirks, and I finally got a good grasp of who each of these characters were. It's not a lot, to be honest, but I'm happy to even have something here. With all of that, however, Mai is developing feelings for Haruhiko and that's what I didn't want. The show's been avoiding this stuff entire series and has been great for it, so don't drop it on us now.  Episode 9 Continuing the trend of using the monster-of-the-week formula to its fullest and just having fun with it, a girl we've never seen before says she needs the Phantom Hunting Club's help with the drama club's latest play (a samurai tale). As they practice, they realize that a phantom's been lurking by. On the day of their performance, the new girl suddenly reveals she's a phantom and transforms the stage into the actual Edo era. The gang figures out they have to successfully finish the play in order to satisfy the Phantom completely. The gang finishes the play, and everything kind of goes back to normal. No big developments here like in the last few episodes, but it's still and entertaining enough story. It's just not as gripping as the past two episodes. That's alright, but we can't really afford to waste time anymore. If KyoAni wants to swing for the fence, they've got to land it. We've gotten some good examples of a lighthearted, fun romp so I definitely want more of it. Either way, it's been okay so far. 
Annotated Phantom World photo
Myriad of actually interesting stuff
I've been hard on Myriad Colors Phantom World since its inception because I went in expecting more from Kyoto Animation's effort. Their past shows have been great when they work, so I was hoping this too would be one of the b...

Annotated Anime: Oshiete! Galko-chan episode 10

Mar 13 // Anthony Redgrave
With the show starting to head towards the final stretch of its 12 episode season, we're starting to learn a bit more about the rest of the cast that Galko interacts with. In this case, it's those three boys that just can't get enough of the blonde protagonist. This episode's lead is Charao, the blonde dude with the earrings. He's not the nerdy one or the tall silent boy, he's the guy that sometimes talks to Galko and, like his entourage, isn't a stranger of imagining Galko is different situations that are far from the truth. Case in point where he notices that Galko is wearing a male shirt causing him to assume Galko is seeing someone. Like the last episode, there isn't a lot of learning to be done here. One question is whether baldness is caused by a high sex drive. Enter Otako to mention something to do with the levels of hormones and family genetics. Not an in-depth answer but enough to subside the question and to bring up the fact that Galko is a nosey person. She can't stop mothering the whole class thus joining in with every conversation including male-centric ones about bikini models.  Even though this episode features the least screen time for Galko, she is still the topic of most discussions. It would've been interesting to see the male version of Galko with the guys asking male mysteries such as: do males sit down to pee or do they prefer to wear boxers or briefs? The episode was decent overall as it was surprising how much I enjoyed following the male members of the cast. The finale with Charao and his Kouhei is sweet and I would like to see more of them in the future.  Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan Ojou VA does the narration, and it's adorable The faceless narrator has an adorable voice Ojou has her own sound effect Otao represents 90% of the viewer base for Galko-chan Nikuko has the god-like breast control whilst running [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan Ojou's smug look is amazing We cannot trust everything Otako says is true It could be possible that when losing weight your boobs go first because it's made of different fat.... possibly. They never really clarify it. [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll]
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
What do the boys think?
When I first started watching Oshiete! Galko-chan it wasn't for the visuals or the premise, it was because it was kinda interesting to see the show answer these quite weird questions. Questions and queries that made you go 'h...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 732

Mar 07 // Anthony Redgrave
Not a lot can be done in one minute and therefore not a lot is done in this episode. Rebecca is still slowly advancing on Viola under the control of Doflamingo, Luffy is still waiting for his Haki to recharge like a battery, and the rest of the Straw Hats are desperately trying to stop the impending Bird Cage from destroying all of Dressrosa, or what's left of it.  In a twist of fate, it is Gatz that proves to the hero of the episode. Just as Mansherry's healing power starts to wear away, Gatz is able to rally the people of Dressrosa to their aid. He acts like Luffy's hype man, revealing Lucy's identity to the rest of the population that still don't know and gets the crowd pumped for his return. It's actually quite effective and entertaining despite it being stuff we have already heard before. Luffy has been out of action for a few episodes, so we as an audience are very excited to see him return to action. The countdown is cut short as Doflamingo attacks Gatz bringing the mood to a low. The cheering stops, Rebecca is launched into a final attack against Viola, and Luffy is nowhere to be seen as the clock runs passed a minute. It's a short beat of lowered mood before we see the hero return and save the damsels in distress. We all know Luffy will return so it was how he made his appearance and when which makes this beat so effective. Bringing the mood down and all that built up momentum to a standstill was the contrast that made Luffy's reappearance hit harder than if he were to appear immediately after the countdown.  The grounds are set for Luffy to end this arc finally. I'm guessing Luffy's final attack will take approximately five episodes to actually execute and bring down Doflamingo. Alternatively, the Bird Cage is brought down or stopped so Doflamingo and Luffy can prolong their fight without the constant worry of the Bird Cage completely obliterating Dressrosa before the fight is over.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
A hero's come back
I know anime takes a lot of liberties with real world scientific laws. Pretty much everything we know about modern science can be skewed in anime and then thinly explained before becoming the norm in that series. Time isn't o...

Annotated Anime: Oshiete! Galko-chan episode 9

Mar 05 // Anthony Redgrave
This week's Galko-chan is lite on learning. The show kicks off with Galko refusing to open her mouth for reasons that are explored throughout the episode but boil down to; she still has a mindset of a child. Otako is able to weasel this out of her eventually leading to the next segment about Ojou. Ojou is a character that is largely left to the background, faithfully playing second fiddle to Otako's schemes. I really like her character design and her supporting role is fantastic when we see her doing bizarre things in the background. However, I feel that we never get enough out of her every episode leaving her whole persona something to be desired.  Fortunately, she takes a larger role in this episode as wanting to be more like Otako. Her big moment comes as she explains to the girls why the inside of a Vagina is always pink regardless of skin colour or race. I'm not sure why she went straight to the genital area when the same is true for the entire digestive system from the mouth to the anus but I think it's because Otako dives for the explicit topics.  The final part of this episode is another Galko being childish bit. She gets scared because Otako says something mildly disturbing and Otako has to put things right before the episode is over. Rinse and repeat. Overall this episode is one of the weaker ones in the series. It didn't provide a lot of information and it mainly focussed on Galko being immature despite her mature appearance and sometimes mature personality. We did get some good visuals including Galko's sister as a high schooler, Galko as a Middle Schooler, and Ojou having more screen time.  Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan Ojou's smug look is amazing We cannot trust everything Otako says is true It could be possible that when losing weight your boobs go first because it's made of different fat.... possibly. They never really clarify it. [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll]
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
Ojou wants to join in
I wonder what we will learn today.

Annotated Anime: Myriad Colors Phantom World episodes 4-6

Mar 01 // Nick Valdez
Episode 4 So after some complaining over how light on story the first three episodes were, the fourth finally has some character development. Unfortunately for us, it's not very compelling. In this episode we learn that Reina's parents don't really approve of her fighting phantoms in her down time (although it doesn't make sense since we were first introduced to the character in the middle of a phantom fight), and that's caused her to act a bit weird. Thus leading to the phantom of the week, a ghost bus that takes Reina to a house with bunny parents. After some shenanigans, it turns out Reina genuinely connected with these faux parents and has a tearful goodbye. Then, all of a sudden, everything's resolved by episode end as Reina says her parents are okay with everything after all. It's sloppy and lazily handled. For one, we never actually meet her parents (which is probably a good thing since the show can't even handle getting its core characters right) and it's not really developed. This plot doesn't have any threads moving forward into future episodes, and I still don't feel like we know Reina all that well. But I guess if you wanted to see her in bunny ears, you've got your wish. It just left a bad taste in my mouth overall.  Episode 5 To follow the pattern from the last episode, the fifth episode is trying to do some character work with the fourth member of the phantom hunting club, Koito. She's a derivative character you've seen many times in the past: a stoic loner who's power isolates her. But Phantom World refuses to be dark enough to make this whole plot work. You see, the reason she's been so alone and weird to everyone else is because she once fought a phantom as a kid and caused a bunch of damage. Rather than make the stakes highly emotional, or at the very least heavier (i.e. her fight causing injury or worse), nothing really has any narrative worth. Just like the previous episode, everything feels resolved too easily. And while the show's been doing its best to avoid typical harem traps (which is why I was drawn to the series initially), it plants the seeds of one here. As Haruhiko refuses to leave Koito alone (which a typical anime protagonist is want to do), he somehow makes some kind of impact on her. You can't really tell given the episode has very little development on this end, but apparently he's done something other than cause her harm. Seriously, the two times he jumps in to help only makes it worse for her. By the end of the episode, Koito joins the group full on but she really shouldn't have. There's no evidence supporting that she'd do better with a group than without at this point.  Episode 6 During the events of the previous episode, the fifth member of the phantom hunting club revealed herself. The fourth grader, Kurumi Kumamakura, with the ridiculous name and the ability to turn her teddy bear, Albrecht, into a giant monster fighter. This episode chooses to develop her as Haruhiko and Kurumi end up stumbling into Kurumi's fantasy world of talking bears and war. Since Kurumi has been anxious about fighting the phantoms (y'know, since she's a child), she retreats to this fantasy world where her bear can talk. It's not a particularly engaging character story here either, but the episode is saved by its stylistic choices. By just being generally weird and different than the rest of the series, this is definitely a stand out episode. Mixing in this series' love of colors with Kyoto Animation's love of fluid movement and weird character design, it all came together into a pleasant package. It's hard not to love how cute all of this is, and I appreciate that Kurumi doesn't get involved with the Phantom club at the end because of a crush on Haruhiko or something.  Once again Haruhiko finds himself inexplicably involved with a character's story, but doesn't really add much of value. I have loved how the female characters are much more valuable to the series overall, and none of them seem to be pulling along because of the male protagonist. In fact, he's basically a harem protagonist without all of the skeeviness that comes along with it. So he's pretty dopey and useless, but not really perverted or even attracted to any of these girls around him or vice versa.  I may have been hard on how light on content the series is, but if this trend continues and all these characters just go on a monster hunt week after week then I'll be fine with it. The only problem is its time frame. It's not like this show is scheduled to go on forever. And with an end imminent, Myriad Colors Phantom World needs to find a reason to exist quickly.  Also, Kyoto Animation needs to work on some kind of magical girl series. Could you imagine how good that'd look?  [You can stream the myriad of colors of Crunchyroll and Hulu]
Annotated Phantom World photo
Myriad of problems
To tell you all the truth, I've been drafting and deleting this article for awhile now. The more I write recaps, and the more I start watching anime (I just finished Netflix's Seven Deadly Sins a bit ago, too), the more I sta...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 731

Mar 01 // Anthony Redgrave
Throughout Dressrosa, there is a massive rally for people to start pushing against the descending bird cage. Dressrosa civilians, gladiators, and even the monarchy are joining up with Zoro, Franky, or Robin to push against the Bird Cage. Even the Marines join the cause with Fujitora turning a literal blind eye towards the pirates to help push by imbuing his blade with Haki. I thought it was really cool seeing Zoro do this for the first time against Pica, but with the arrival of generic Marine than can imbue their weapons with Haki, it's just another super power that's tossed around. Those Marines aren't even officer class! They're just Marine grunts that get tossed around by any main or slightly interesting tertiary character. Rebecca gets assigned to crowd control duties by her dad and grows tired of not being part of the action. And like a child going through their troublesome teens, she picks up a blade and has the urge to murder. Fortunately, her target is Doflamingo who has already extinguished the last of Luffy's protection. Violet, having the same idea as Rebecca, engages Doflamingo in mortal combat instead. It's sad to say that this is extremely stupid because both these girls are leagues below Doflamingo. Like stupidly so. A pointless sacrifice that gets Violet beaten down hard. At least, there are some cool martial arts moves animated in this fight.  As the episode winds down, the Bird Cage Brigade are able to stop the stringed menace for a few seconds giving evidence for a possible solution or delayed death. The same is sadly not true for Violet as she is caught up in Doflamingo's strings with a manipulated Rebecca heading towards her with her blade raised. It's a twisted death at the hands of her niece being controlled by Doflamingo except the ex-warlord has forgotten one thing. Rebecca always fights with a blunt blade due to being completely against attacking other contestants. I have no idea why she would bring a blunt blade when going to assassinate Doflamingo apart from that is what she is most comfortable using.  The clock ticks down like a doomsday clock or when Noah was about to descend on Fishman Island. The clock strikes one minute to midnight and it will take exactly one minute before Luffy can recover. This could be the longest 60 seconds in anime history if the next episode doesn't run the time limit.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Rebecca does something stupid
There is so much in anime that happens in between minutes of time that if I was able to that much done in the span of a few short minutes, you would see a lot more Annotated Anime articles on Japanator each week. One Piece's  time manipulation is kicked into high gear this week as the 10-minutes takes more than 20 minutes real-world time to tick down. 

Annotated Anime: Oshiete! Galko-chan episode 8

Feb 27 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode opens with the boys ranking the breast sizes of the female members of the class. Of course, Galko is on the list but newcomers Nikuko a foodie futsal player and the Occult Japnese goth chick Okako also make the list. I imagine Nikuko is a play on words as Niku is a Japanese derivative for meat. To complete the logic circle, I only know this information because of a character in Haganai been given the nickname Niku due to her breast size. Anime's hidden agenda is to passively teach you Japanese. I've talked previously about how this title is an insight into the female conversation and said it it's interesting if it were true. On the flip side, I cannot say that I've had the same debate over the female student body bust ranking during my time in education. According to Galko-chan, the male student body cannot get over the intrigued and fascination over Galko's actions or changes in appearance. There is some truth behind this as any male going through puberty would have a hard time not finding something interesting about Galko.  The second story focusses on nails and manicures. Class Prez breaks a nail and Galko goes about fixing it much to Class Prez's chagrin. The gang discusses Galko's nails and how she's able to cook with them, to which the reply is with disposable rubber gloves. Galko's sister, always quick to come up with an alternative option causing Galko to be embarrassed. The great thing about this anime is that the sexual joke isn't lost nor is it explicitly said. You still get the punch line of Galko cutting off her sister and the definitive sexual answer without beating around the bush or leaving it entirely to the imagination. Galko's motherly actions and innocent facade will put her high on the waifu list this year.  Lastly, we expand the classroom cast to include the emo boy in the corner. Constantly annoyed by the outlandish behaviour of Galko, he is saved by her after coming into school with a terrible case of bed head (don't worry we feel your pain brother). Expert stylist Galko is able to change the sullen looking boy into a more fashionable sullen looking boy garnering the attention of Ojou and Otako. Another example of why Galko is pretty much the best person ever.  Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan How cup sizes of Bras work How to accurately determine where someone's nipples are accurately according to their ears. I don't think they work on fakies The importance of fixing broken nails The process of a manicure That emo boy possibly lives with a mom that is mute and a troll. [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll]
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
Anime teaches you the best things
I'm not adverse to learning new things but the stuff that really stick are told through anime. Detective Conan/ Case Closed  has taught me the signs of cyanide poisoning, Lucky Star the benefits of leaving curry out...

Annotated Anime: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika episodes 5-7

Feb 22 // Soul Tsukino
Episode Five This episode gets it's comedic bits out of the way right off the bat as we see a smaller girl in a different uniform from the school being chased around the hallway before meeting Haruta, Chika, and Miyo. Haruta, ever attentive, figures out the girl is from the local junior high and figures out what instrument she plays. It seems Haruta's adventures of solving mysteries for people has got around and the girl, named Akari needs his help.  The mystery here is an interesting one. Akari had been told that her grandfather was dead, but she recently been told that he is alive. A long time ago he had promised to get married to her grandmother but was going to study art in America for a year. She found out she was pregnant and didn't tell him so not to worry him, but after the year was up he never came back. He had been found in Japan recently, but seems to have very vague memories of what happened to him during that time, only speaking of seeing "The Elephant's Breath". Akari wants to find out what he had been doing so she could scold him for abandoning her grandmother. As you can imagine, this mystery is more abstract than a Rubix cube or a strange house. The grandfather isn't about to give up any information, and you can sense he is of sound mind and doing that on purpose. They sneak in some humor of having the old man make lecherous comments about Chika's long legs, but the further you go on in this, I just got this horrible feeling this isn't going to be a happy ending.  The way the story unfolds is wrapped around this story that is told about an Elephant and how it was being held by people but escaped. Once free it finds a young elephant that got separated from its pride and raises it until it grows up. The younger elephant asks why its father has chains around his leg and the older Elephant says that those are its troubles and sadness. The younger elephant than breaks it's chains and free him from his long torment. This starts becoming more and more accurate to the theme as the episode goes on. The ending, as you can guess, is not the happy "wrap everything up" ending that has been in a few of the previous episodes. Akari, as well as the viewers, find out what really happened to him. As you can guess there is no waving of a magic wand that makes everything better, but you till get resolution. This episode is sad, no doubt about it. Sure it has little bits of comedy to lighten the mood just a bit but still doesn't mask the solemn tone this mystery takes. However it does not mean it's a strike against this episode, the exact opposite really. This is a very well told story and the ending may very well surprise you with its answers. Even if it seems like this episode doesn't have much impact on the rest of the series, it's still a great part of the series and I'm glad it is in there.   Episode Six We are back to business in this episode  where right off the bat we hear the story of a young girl who walks the line of music to set herself apart from her family. Since a young age she doesn't want to be like her father and grandfather  who are over confident in their jobs, nor does she want to be like her mother. Heck of a way to start of this episode. We start off during spring break (not American spring break. No beaches and cheap alcohol here) as Chika is trying desperately to recruit more members to the Brass Band club. Of course, her recruiting is a dismal failure. She meets up with Haruta up on the roof as he is practicing. They have a real funny back and forth about the type of people they are attracted too before we find out that some of the other brass members are scattered around the roof of the building...and one other it seems. A mysterious person is playing the clarinet from one of the classrooms before she is stopped and the window is closed. Soon enough the mystery is afoot as we find out that a girl named Naoko Serizawa. She has been snooping around the band room before school every day for some reason. She is described as being brilliant with aspirations to go pro. When Chika suggests that she join the club, a metaphor of D&D characters is used with a hilarious little animation that details what they are explaining. Out of the mold of the show's past episodes, the mystery behind Naoko doesn't last very long and not only is Chika the one to figure it out (on her own, mind you) but she has a clever solution to help Naoko during the rest of the episode. I am not sure if it was the show creator's intent, but this scene, as innocent as it seems, finally shows Chika is not stupid. She doesn't get a lot of the references that the other characters may make, but she's not an idiot either and this episode shows that better than any other episode has so far. Another interesting part of this episode is Naoko makes an illusion to her friend as for why she was snooping in the band room. They even show us his face. Considering both characters appear in the opening credits this will come back in a future episode. Between that and the conversation she has with some of the band members about their future goals, there is a lot of foreshadowing going on here. Considering this is the halfway point, maybe things are going to get more interesting at this point in the show. This episode also plays good contrast to the last one. Whereas the last episode was very sad and solemn, this one is more positive. There is more humor in this episode and even a few "anime" moments sprinkled in the mix. A good pick-me- up from the last outing.   Episode Seven This episode gets off on the best of beginnings as a girl sits in the dark and ends up calling a radio show that is about helping lost souls. The girl talks about wanting to die and they make jokes. Yeah, That's not how your supposed to do that. Anyway, this episode starts the new school term. The band club ended up getting a bunch of new members, including Akari from episode five. So now they have more members (though we don't meet any of them) and Akari is now a regular character on the show. This episode had an unusual approach as it seemed like you had two different plotlines going, the one that is alluded to in the opening with this counseling radio station that is visited in the opening and again in a hilarious scene when it turns out Haruta is one of the callers and Chika finds out, and the other being the mysterious geological club, entirely made up of shut in students who didn't like going to school at all. This episode impressed me with not only the way it brought together these two plotlines of the mysterious radio station and the hunt for the geological club to get more funds to the Brass Band club, but it also made references back to the last episode as well. The show was giving us clues to a mystery it hadn't even revealed yet. And the best part is that they don't seem to be finished yet. You don't get much resolution in this episode though, but it also seems like it's leading into the next episode more than standing on its own. Like the 6th Harry Potter book. It's not the greatest episode on its own, but it leads to bigger things. For what it is, it is a pleasant, very funny at times, and even touching episode of the series that also makes me want to see where this is going and what else may pop up. These three episodes bring emotional to the table, somewhat like The Miyo episode, but in a different way. When you find out the real story of Akari's grandfather, it is a tug at your heart. And as someone who has had those feelings before, you crack a smile in seeing what happened to that lonely girl who wanted to die, even if the way it happened is not something recommended as a response to ANYONE feeling that way. Now that we are narrowing in on the end of the series things are pulling together a little more and we still have plenty to watch in the future. Love this series. This episode gets it's comedic bits out of the way right off the bat as we see a smaller girl in a different uniform from the school being chased around the hallway before meeting Haruta, Chika.   Haruta, ever inattentive, figures out the girl is from the local Junior high and figures out what instrument she plays. It seems Haruta's adventures of solving mysteries for people has got around and the girl, named Akari needs his help.   The Mystery here is an interesting one. Akari had been told that her grandfather was dead, but she recently been told that he is alive. A long time ago he had promised to get married to her grandmother, but was going to study art in America for a year. She found out she was pregnant and didn't tell him so not to worry him, but after the year was up he never came back. He had been found in Japan recently, but seems to have very vague memories of what happened to him during that time, only speaking of seeing "The Elephant's Breath". Akari wants to find out what he had been doing so she could scold him for abandoning her grandmother.   As you can imagine, this mystery is more abstract than a rubix cube or a strange house. The grandfather isn't about to give up any information, and you can sense he is of sound mind and doing that on purpose. They sneak in some humor of having the old man make lecherous comments about Chika's long legs, but the further you go on in this, I just got this horrible feeling this isn't going to be a happy ending.   The way the story unfolds is wrapped around this story that is told about an Elephant and how it was being held by people, but escaped. Once free it finds a young elephant that got separated from its pride and raises it until it grows up. The younger elephants asks why it's father has chains around his leg and the older Elephant says that those are it's troubles and sadness. The younger elephant than breaks it's chains and free him from his long torment. This starts becoming more and more accurate to the theme as the episode goes on.   The ending, as you can guess, is not the happy "wrap everything up" ending that has been in a few of the previous episodes. Akari, as well as the viewers, find out what really happened to him. As you can guess there is no waving of a magic wand that makes everything better, but you till get resolution.   This episode is sad, no doubt about it. Sure it has little bits of comedy to lighten the mood just a bit, but still doesn't mask the solemn tone this mystery takes. However it does not mean it's a strike against this episode, the exact opposite really. This is a very well told story and the ending may very well surprise you in its answers. Even if it seems like this episode doesn't have much impact in the rest of the series, its still a great part of the series and I'm glad it is in there.
Haruchika photo
Uplifts, bummers, and everything else!
We are checking in with our favorite high school friends of the Japanese TV season again as we look at the next three episodes of Haruchika: Haruta and Chika. The gang is finishing up the school term and new faces arrive to make their lives more interesting. Let's take a look.

First Impressions: Oshiete! Galko-chan

Feb 20 // Anthony Redgrave
Sarcasm aside, I'm actually really impressed with this anime from what I have watched. In the starring role as is the titular Galko, a buxom blonde student that looks like she should be texting her bae in the side seat of a Mustang with the other Californian raisins. She's actually modelled after the Japanese fashion gyaru and while her outward appearance matches the American stereotype, her personality is more traditional. This is supposedly the source of the comedy with a physically opposite character Otako looking like Miyamoto's sister from another mister provides all the jabs and insinuations of racy behaviour. Rounding out the main cast is Ojou, the rich girl used to provide contrast and commentary on the excessively rich in Japan. So the characters aren't the most original. They've been put together many times before. It's almost the Lucky Star crew minus the game spewing Konata and drawn differently so they can make different jokes. It wouldn't be a great anime to talk about if it wasn't for the content of their conversations which gives each episode the plot. It's been a while since I've seen a slice of life not talk about school work, golden week, or base jokes on pop culture. Instead Oshiete! Galko-chan goes for the more "realistic" conversation topics of a mid-twenties group of women. Whenever you hear girls say they share everything with their girlfriends and you begin to question what they mean everything, this anime will be your keyhole into the female dialogue. Topics on female hygiene products, panties for when you're on a period, tanned nipples at the salon, and whether your eyebrows match the pubic hair (also known as the carpet and drapes discussion) are all fair game in this anime. It's enough to make this title feel fresh as not only do they openly discuss these surprisingly mature topics for a high school anime, they don't fanny around with the answers either. Even after the initial blush expression, the topic continues to the end not going for the tease of character reveals. The show even provides some snippets of education including the anatomical reason why females require the restroom more than males to the weight of E cup breasts. I never found myself guffawing with laughter as the jokes still stem from the ecchi brand of embarrassing situations, but the psychological test episode was pretty funny.  The anime just like it's main lead is a stunner to look at. Even if you're put off by the unsavoury discussions, the optic pleasures should be enough to make it through the 7 and a half-minute episode. Oshiete! Galko-chan uses bright colours to make the picture really pop as seen by the pop art style backgrounds when focussing on a character. The character design is also a refreshing change from the large-eyed moe fests that is common in 'slice of life' in favour of a simple cartoony style. Overall it gives off a wonderful childish colourful style that is hard to dislike. The show's a fan service anime all the way using saucy topics of discussion as fire to fuel the visuals. It's a hook that works as each topic has me engaged more so than the framed visual stimulants. I'd be inclined to use the word mature to describe the various conversations but that's only applicable to the topic and not how it proceeds. The short episodes mean that they don't linger on the same topic for too long allowing the episode to move a brisk pace. It's not for everyone as the tried and true school girl formula is still in effect making the whole premise a walk through deja vu. Give it a try if you really want to know burning questions like: Is it true that virgins use pads and non-virgins use tampons? [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] Oshiete! Galko-chan
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
Questions you never wanted answered
It's another anime that I joined a little behind the viewing schedule and now it's halfway through the season. This time, it's an anime about high school girls discussing their daily life in a high school peppered with jokes, nice visuals, and plenty of fan service. A totally original concept!

Annotated Anime: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu episodes 4-6

Feb 17 // Josh Tolentino
In case you've forgotten, episode three ended on what seemed to be a dramatic cliffhanger, with the Yakumo the 7th's mistress Miyokichi showing up, seeking the master. In a different story, she'd be like a live grenade tossed into the cast, exploding the old, comfortable dynamic and setting the plot in writhing motion. Except she's absent for most of the fourth episode, which devotes its eye solely to the relationship between Kikuhiko and Sukeroku (née Bon and Shin), living together in an apartment following their promotion to futatsume. It's at this time that some of the subtle subtexts lurking in Shouwa Rakugo bubble up to the fore, clear to see even for folks who aren't into close reading or other film studies piddle-paddling.  It's hard not to see Kikuhiko's longing for his best friend, even as he only slowly comes to realize it himself over the course of the next few installments. But for us viewers, it's plainly evident in the married-couple banter the pair exchange, Kikuhiko's apparent indifference to the opposite sex (including a bond with Miyokichi that seems more maternal than romantic), and even the way the camera and framing of the scenes treat Sukeroku. Of course, this cat isn't out of the bag (or closet) just yet. The show's historical context virtually ensures that Kikuhiko's path of self-discovery would be an ambivalent one. Hell, we already know what he's like in the future, and "out and proud" isn't one of those things. At this point, we're on the hook to find out just how he, Sukeroku, and Miyokichi are involved in leading to the present state of Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th.  If nothing else, the journey to finding out remains riveting as ever. Ably voiced by Megumi "Rei" Hayashibara, Miyokichi is less a plot grenade than a fire pot of character work, playing a grounded, perceptive, utterly attractive woman for whom a term like "temptress" feels both accurate and unforgivably reductive. Her role in catalyzing the events that lead to Kikuhiko discovering his own style of Rakugo also can't be overstated.  It's not all happy, though. As good as one feels for the characters and their journey so far, the shinjuu in the title still looms. In fact, Kikuhiko discovering how to make his mark on Rakugo brings him one step closer to the sly, sinister, troubled old man we met in the first episode, and to whatever tragedies made him that way. [Watch more of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu on Crunchyroll!] née
Shouwa Rakugo photo
The plot thickens
The last time we checked in on Shouwa Rakugo, it was shaping up to be one of the best (or at least, most grown-up) anime series to air in years. Anime fans looking for more mature, grounded plotting and complex character work...


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