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4:00 PM on 10.30.2014

Impressions: When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

"What would you do if you had superpowers?" It's a question people love to ask each other, and the answers are usually quite mundane. They often involved finding ways to make lots of money using superpowers. Very few of us wo...

Josh Tolentino


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Annotated Anime: Psycho Pass episode 1 photo
Annotated Anime: Psycho Pass episode 1
by Hiroko Yamamura

Psycho Pass season two is in full swing and as usual, your favorite Editor in Chief is late to the game. So, things kind of pick up right where season one left off, albeit a bit too casually. In fact, the whole episode plays off like another day at the office. The surviving members of the original team are still in tact, with Akane in the lead.

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Most notably Ginoza is now in a role of enforcers, and has gotten way more emo, and of course, Shinya is not to be found. The team is brought in to deal with an explosives expert whose Crime Coefficient is not really effected by their action. They of course come packing their sexy Dominators, and chase ensues.

Basically, Akane finds that the culprit's Crime Coefficient is just under lethal range, and tries to talk the suspect down to the point that the Sybil Systems allows him to be stunned. There's a Reservoir Dogs-esque Mexican stand-off, and the suspect is brought in cleanly, much to Akane's new partner's dismay.

I was actually ready to call the new season a complete wash until the post credit scenes appeared, adding to a bit of the original season's mystery, gore, and conspiracy ideas. There's a rouge player in the midst and once again, the Dominator system doesn't allow an enforcer to do their job, costing them their lives. The last minute or so of the show was exactly what I was hoping for, but where on earth is Shinya Kogami? I guess we have a whole season to find out.

3

Production wise, the animation and designs just don't seem to be of the same quality, wether or not that remains an issue is yet to be seen. The opening and ending songs are top notch however, nicely adding book ends to the show. The same ominous, dark feeling though is present, and the feeling of the oppressive Sybil System's ever watching, flawed eye can be felt.

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Given that fact that I loved the first season, I'm going to push through the show, there's so many unanswered questions I have, and things I'd really like to know about the universe. All hallmarks of the kind of show I enjoy. If they can keep up the gritty sci-fi atmosphere, and keep the science and tech well explained, I'm  sure I'll love this season.

[Get your Crime Coefficient checked over at Hulu]

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Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episodes 2-3 photo
Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episodes 2-3
by Josh Tolentino

The more I watch of Unlimited Blade Works, the more I'm convinced that everyone would've been better off if each episode were an hour long rather than the standard length. It'd work, even if the show became bi-weekly because of it. 

If nothing else, Ufotable seem to be making their own episodes seemingly with that in mind, as the last two weeks have felt like the front and back halves of a single longer production. The unintended result is a week that comes across as very quiet, and possibly boring, followed up with delicious excitement lacking in real narrative progress. 

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Annotated Anime: Terra Formars episodes 4-5 photo
Annotated Anime: Terra Formars episodes 4-5
by Josh Tolentino

When last I wrote about Terra Formars I noted its tonal and structural similarities to another of the year's darlings, Attack on Titan. That got some folks riled up for some reason, but I'm standing by those words, especially now that the show has been revealed to take a particular kind of glee in twisting the knife.

Like its spiritual sibling following a "no one is safe" ethos when it comes to character death and then savoring the righteous anger that follows every escalation of mankind's war against the roach menace. Attack on Titan is hardly the first bleak anime ever, but it and Terra Formars definitely live in the same neighboorhood, shopping for groceries at the same grimy convenience stores and wearing the same intimidating scowls on their faces.

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Annotated Anime: Shirobako episode 3 photo
Annotated Anime: Shirobako episode 3
by Jeff Chuang

Shirobako episode 3 brings us to Aoi's primary tasks to the finish. We first see the innocuous name sake--the white jewel case that hosts the final cut of the TV episode, thus "shirobako." The joy ride continues all the way to the end.

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First Impressions: Log Horizon 2 photo
First Impressions: Log Horizon 2
by Josh Tolentino

We neglected to cover Log Horizon back when it debuted, beyond first look by Karen, who came away distinctly unimpressed. That was a missed opportunity, because, like many a good show, Log Horizon was very much a slow, thoughtful burn in ways that its other peers in the burgeoning "Trapped In A Videogame" anime subgenres were not.

In fact, for many a longtime online RPG player, myself included, Log Horizon was the show they were hoping to see when Sword Art Online and its ilk opened the floodgates: An anime that knew and cared about how MMORPGs work, and more importantly, used that knowledge to enhance the story it told.

Now that we're into the second season, I'm happy to report that that's still the case.

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First Impressions: Shirobako photo
First Impressions: Shirobako
by Jeff Chuang

Shirobako is many things--a story about a struggling animation studio, an anime production starting to go haywire, the promise of five young women in the pursuit of their dreams, and that is just to list a few. Shirobako, to me, is the love letter of the anime creation process as shared and dramatized by the same creators to the people that watch it. Still, it's an anime about an anime. How much that speaks to each of us has a lot more to do with who we are rather than what Shirobako is, so this special anime starts out on an usual note.

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First Impressions: Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works photo
First Impressions: Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works
by Josh Tolentino

These day it's hard to imagine an active otaku who isn't at least passingly familiar with Fate/stay night, Type-MOON's juggernaut of a visual novel series. 

I'm sure those sorts of folks exist, though, and the duty falls to Ufotable to make both them and the fans - or "Type-Lunatics" as some like to call themselves - happy. And this'll be a the second try, because to hear many veterans tell it, Studio DEEN didn't quite manage the job with their Fate/stay night TV series and Unlimited Blade Works movie.

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First Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters Try photo
First Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters Try
by Josh Tolentino

Gundam Build Fighters was a show aimed at children and designed to promote the toys Bandai wants them to build. It also happened to be the most refreshing Gundam show in years, and an love letter to Gundam's enduring legacy, as well as its oldest fans.

Now, here's Gundam Build Fighters Try, which is, for better or worse (though there's not much "worse" to this proposition, a second helping of all of the above.

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First Impressions: Terra Formars photo
First Impressions: Terra Formars
by Josh Tolentino

Let's get the obvious thing out of the way first: Terra Formars is not very good "Mars" fiction. The concept of Martian colonization and its myriad possibilities is just about the furthest thing from this show's mind, even three episodes in. But that's hardly a problem, because tough badasses have insect powers and use them to beat up cockroach versions of the Hulk.

Which is good enough for me.

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Annotated Anime: Sword Art Online II episodes 10-13 photo
Annotated Anime: Sword Art Online II episodes 10-13
by Salvador GRodiles

It may have happened sooner than expected, but Sword Art Online II is ready to deliver the final showdown between our heroes and Death Gun. While the right pieces were set in motion, the story decided to take it slow, as more talking invades the Phantom Bullet Arc’s last moments. Luckily, the show’s build-up throughout these past few episodes lead to an intense climax, as the storyline prepares for its resolution.

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Annotated Anime: Stardust Crusaders episodes 21-22 photo
Annotated Anime: Stardust Crusaders episodes 21-22
by Josh Tolentino

If the last couple of episodes seemed tailored towards characters who still hadn't forgiven Kakyoin for his actions way back in episode 2, this latest two-parter feels addressed to make Polnareff pay for his comparatively greater sins.

After all, dude got Avdol, one of anime's best black men, killed. He needs to suffer.

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