Sunday, January 21, 2018

Anime Gataris comes to an end

Between shows that already ended and shows I dropped (Violet Evergarden couldn't keep my interest through episode 2) for this on Anime Weekly Updates I have only the finale of Anime Gataris to comment on.

It was fun.  And overall I highly recommend the show.

Ya know I've spend so much time talking about how Meta a lot of my favorite Animes are.  That during the last 2 episodes here I realized there was a kind of Meta I hadn't seen in Anime that often, till now.  Like what I enjoyed about Garfield and Friends, Tiny Toons and Animainiacs back in the day.  Breaking the Fourth Wall to the point where it practically doesn't exist anymore.  It's like the Anime version of those kinds of shows, Animeniacs.

Besides currently airing shows.  I've started shows like Eureka Seven and Maze.  I've obtained a few movies I intend to get to soon, the Godzilla Anime, Barefoot Gen, and Space Adventure Cobra The Movie (it should be the UK Dub).

Tonight the Winter 2018 Simuldubs I intend to follow should start.  Depending on how the schedule looks, it might be more then a week before the next update, or less then a week.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Subverting Expectations is not a substitute for actual Imagination.

I really didn't think my praise for The Last Jedi would fade with time like it did for The Force Awakens.  Yet once again the more I think about it the more it does.

I still find the movie highly entertaining, definitely a better movie then TFA, thanks largely to John Williams being on his game again.

A lot of the praise of the film has predicated on how great it is that they subverted fan expectations, being almost kind of Meta about it.  And I guess it's because I watch so much Anime that the mere idea of doing that isn't so inherently surprising to me.

Doing plot after plot of making the audience think it's gonna do the same thing SW has done before only to swerve on us.  Doesn't change that the end result of the movie is ensuring the conflict will continue to be an outnumbered band of Rebels against a massive Empire.

Oh some people seem to think it's different that the Rebellion is even smaller now then it ever was during the OT.  But that is not interesting to me.  I'm not a big fan of the stories of the old EU, but at least they actually had an interesting complicated geopolitical scenario for the post ROTJ Galaxy.  Most people were assuming after TFA that the Republic must still exist, it's capital system can't be all there was to it?  But nope, TLJ has made it clear that was all there was.

It could have been interesting to have the Bad Guys be the rebels, or to have the good guys and bad guys on equal footing.  Or to have more then just two sides.  Something to make it so it wasn't just the OT formula repeating itself over and over again.

I've been in willing denial of the fact that these Disney movies are pandering to Prequel Haters as much as their marketing is.  But now it's become apparent that they didn't want to have a Republic in these movies because that would be too similar to the Prequels.  Even though the story potential for a newly reformed Republic could have been vast.

Whatever stupid problems you might have with the Prequels.  There is no denying that they made this fictional Galaxy feel larger then it ever did before.  While these new movies have made it feel smaller.

Again we have no truly visionary ideas for new locations.  I don't care if you say it's Salt not Snow, we know full well the point was to create a similar look.  Just throwing Red in so you can create moments that look like Bloodshed but really isn't.

And the whole illusion that these Dark Side users are something distinct from The Sith is totally thrown out the window by the fact that this is the first time we ever actually saw the Rule of the Sith play out.  The first time we actually see an Apprentice overthrow his Master.

The idea of failure being a theme is undermined by all the superficial victories designed to lighten the weight of each failure.  Finn's mission failed but he got to beat Phasma in a fight.  Rey failed but still gets to have her Savior moment and doesn't lose a limb like past Heroes of the saga did at this point.  Poe partly caused this dire situation but still gets entrusted with leadership at the end.  All things I would be okay with if they weren't in a movie about failure being a theme.

And there is a fine line between subverting expectations in a way that expands what Star Wars is about, and doing so in a way that feels like a rejection of what Star Wars has been about.

Actually discussing the fact that the Jedi of the PT era grew complacent and failed the Galaxy, and that the future of the Jedi needs to be something different is exactly what I was hoping for.  However that Luke saved Vader even though his Mentors didn't think it was possible was part of that narrative.  Now Luke is where his mentors were before and this time that attitude is vindicated.

The rejection of Redemption couldn't come at a worse time for me, where the primary thing alienating me from other people who hold similar political and social values to mine, are annoying me with an increasing attitude of 'we shouldn't forgive people'.

I would have liked the idea of going in a more nuanced direction, of saying the Dark Side isn't inherently bad.  But no this movie seemed to be equally rejecting that option.

And responding to the criticism of "why didn't Holdo tell Poe the plan?" with "you didn't learn the lessen Poe was supposed to learn" is really offensive to me.  The whole moral of "soldiers should just trust their superiors no matter what" is an inherently Fascist one to me.  And therefore totally destroys the whole notion that the good guys are the ones opposing Fascism. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I think 2011 was the beginning of my Era of Anime.

My top two favorite Anime may be shows much older then that, Noir and Lucky Star, as well as two other shows that had formally been up there before I watched more shows, Code Geass and Utena.  But those are shows I feel were ahead of their time.  And the main advantage they have over their modern equivalents is how less common it is for shows to be two core now.

I suspected this before I start going over 2011 on MAL and seeing even more basis for it then I first thought.  And some of the 2011 shows I haven't seen yet I'm very much wanting to check out now.  Perhaps that'll result in future updates to this post.  Plus I'm (mostly) not even gonna count here shows I started then put on hold.

None of these shows I watched at the time, or even when their Dubs were new.  This is stuff I was drawn to and really liked after getting more fully into Anime starting around late 2014 and early 2015.

In the Winter season of 2011 was Puella Magi Madoka Magica.  And the start of Suite Pretty Cure, the first PreCure pair I think is good after the OG team.

Spring 2011 had Steins;Gate, Aria of the Scarlet Ammo, C:The Money of Soul and Possibly Control,

Summer 2011 had Yuru Yuri season 1 and Mawaru Penguindrum.

And then the Fall had Mirai Nikki and season one of Fate/Zero.

It's not just that there was a lot of stuff I liked, not all those are even 10s.  It's that I don't think any year has more shows I like that were trend setters.

All these trends have precedent that came before.  With Madoka especially people feel compelled to go and on about how there were dark Magical Girl shows before.  But there were sort of slasher before Halloween as well.  Madoka has something the Dark Magical Girls shows before it didn't, that shows since have inherited.  I don't feel qualified o explain what it was, but I definitely know it does.  Regardless of that debate however Madoka was indisputably what triggered the current trend, no one likes Yuki Yuna Is A Hero more then me (now that the Two Fat Guys Talk people are less happy with season 2 then I am) but I'm not gonna deny it wouldn't have gotten green-lite without Madoka.

Light Magical Girl shows also had a transition this year.  Suite Pretty Cure topped the previous PreCure sequels because it began the trend of giving each season a distinct hook, and this is was kept PreCure shows since fresh.  And I can't help but feel that musically Sailor Moon Crystal is indebted to Suite PreCure.

As I'd said before, the 2014 Sailor Moon revival is what brought to Hulu, then Mdoka was a recommended show on the Sailor Moon and SMC pages, and that's what sent me down a spiral towards Anime consuming my Nerdiness.

Fate/Zero wasn't the first Fate/ Anime.  But it's the first that was a major hit and launched the Fate/Mania we've seen since.  And Mirai Nikki caused an upsurge in Yandere popularity.  Aria of the Scarlet Ammo is a show where I like it's spin off,  Aria of The Scarlet Ammo AA, even more.

A lot of people have considered it interesting how certain 2011 Anime came out the same year Game of Thrones started (to be exact season 1 aired congruent with the Spring Anime season), given claims they appeal in a similar way.  But while GoT I grew tired of by some point in season 4.  Anime descended from these are still fresh to me.  The Martiness of some popular 2011 Anime kind of helped make SAO, Attack on Titan,The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and Re:Zero possible in the following years.

But for me personally the more significant corresponding western media was Pretty Little Liars. It started the prior year but only half a season aired in 2010.  In 2011 aired the second half of season 1, the first half of season 2, and the first of it's infamous Halloween specials.  It caught my attention in 2010 but it was in 2011 is became a favorite.  And it overlaps with what I look for in Anime in a number of ways.  It's essentially a Four Girls show with a convoluted murder mystery, lots of pulpy Film Noir homages and Yuri.

Of course somethings in 2011 Anime can also be seen as the end of the era that came before.  Like the K-On movie which I didn't mention above as I was just going through TV Anime.  But while the K-On movie marked the end of one era of Cute Girls doing Cute Things Anime, the start of Yuru Yuri began a new era, that made shows like Is The Order A Rabbit and Engaged to the Unidentified possible.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I like Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online, or SAO for short, is a very flawed anime, some of it's flaws bug more then others, some arcs are more flawed then others.

None the less I enjoy it, and I like it the most of everything I've watched within it's Sub-Genre, which is Anime about being trapped in a a Virtual Reality MMO video game.  Digibro says Log Horizon aired in a time-slot usually devoted to educational show, and frankly it shows. And .Hack was a show so boring even Yuki Kajura music couldn't save it.  The rest I've seen are just Isekai using Video Game references to pander to that demographic.

I'm a fan of Digibro, some of his criticisms I agree with and some I don't.  But in general his initial diatribe is one of his weakest videos, he's learned since then.

I already did a blog post where I explain that it's wrong to view SAO as a Death Game anime and that Mother's Basement's objection to Yui offends me.  Now I'm going to break things down by Arc.

The Aincrad Arc I have very few issues with.  I wish there was less Anime Style Fanservice, especially seeing the show's youngest character in her underwear.   And in that older post I commented on the murder mystery two parter.

Besides that most of my issues are connected to the Kuradeel story-line.  Like Digibro I wish they'd stuck with Ausna killing Kuradeel as she did in the original Web Novel version.  Overlapping with the above complaint I wish the accidental Boob Grab wasn't there.  And I also don't like the image of Asuna cowering behind Kirito.

I mostly don't share people's issues with the ending.  I like Kaiba being a mystery.  The plot point with the resurrection device I view essentially as explaining why Kirito and Asuna could live at the end, because there is a 10 second delay before the Nerve gear fries your brain.  They should have just included a little more exposition explaining that.  I can again agree with Digibro that it would have been better if Kirito and Asuna had came back and finished off Heathcliff together.

Xoh is a YouTuber who's made a lot of videos responding to SAO critics.  Some of his points I agree with and some not so much.

When people talk about why SAO is inaccurate to what MMO RPGs are like.  It largely reminds me why I wouldn't like to play them.  I would like the community aspect, but not being seemingly unable to play alone.  I would be more interested in something like a MMO Breath of The Wild.

Much of what I like about SAO is how especially the first two Arcs can be read as Gnostic allegories.  That's a subject that will some day be it's own post on my recently launched Comparative Mythology blog.

The Alfheim Arc I'm inclined to agree is the worst part of SAO, though even it I see value in.  Mother's Basement did a video on how to fix the arc, and I pretty much agree with that one.  But I can add a third option to Suguha's romantic resolution, since I ship her with Shinon.

Gungale Online aka the Phantom Bullet arc, is perhaps the most complicated to explain.  It has enough stuff I like that I can maybe say I like it more then Aincrad even.  But it has issues including being the most gratuitous yet in it's Anime Style Fanservice.

With both Alfeim and Gungale people addressing the in-universe game designs of these games, seem to assume with how Kirito gets his Avatar that there is no customization possible.  I just see it as Kirito being given a default Avatar pretty randomly and just sticking with it.  Frankly I don't feel his presumably Customized avatar from the first episode of Aincrad looked all that imaginative either, I think Kirito maybe usually just doesn't care much about that part.

Digibro expressed confusion at so many people in Gungale just hanging at that in-game bar/nightclub or whatever you call it, and not actually playing the game.  And that just makes me think about how often I've turned on my N64 to play Ocarina of Time just to look at the Temple of Time and then turn it off.  Or pay Majora's Mask just to mess around, I've still completed only half of that game.

It is exactly that part of Gungale online where SAO started reminded me of the missed opportunities of Caprica, a the BSG spin off series I really liked at first, and in-spite of how much it started to annoy me I was really upset it got canceled.

Digibro claims it's being inherently bad to do exposition scenes in dinners or restaurants and such places.  But says it was tolerable in the first two arcs of SAO because of how Taverns like those are stables of the Fantasy genre.  Well such things are also staples of the Genres Gungale is referencing, Westerns with their Taverns and Brothels, and Film Noirs with their seedy Night Clubs and Casinos, like Rick's place in Casablanca.  Not to mention how this Arc draws on Star Wars.

Which leads me to a criticism I can agree with.  Giving Kirito a Light Saber so that he doesn't have to actually learn to use a new kind of weapon and fit in with the arc's actual theme.  And while I would not consider the mere idea of a Laser Sword plagiarism, using the exact same sound effects for it I think is.  Gundam has their Light Saber like weapons without recycling the exact same sound effects.

They could have at least given Kirito something like that Blaster/Light Saber hybrid Ezra created in Star Wars Rebels, that Canaan figured out how to use properly in the first season finale.

I'm fine mostly with Death Gun.  How obvious of a Vader Clone he is doesn't bother me.  The premise behind revealing he was two people I feel worked well.  Adding a third felt like nothing more then to have a sequel hook for future story-lines.

Once again I'm uncomfortable with the Rape aspect of the plot.  Ironically I feel it's handled a little better this time, but that they took that rout to make there villain so evil twice in a row is really lazy.

Shinon should have won the Battle of the Bullets.

There is one aspect of my personal interest in Gungale that I'm going to save for it's own post.

I I don't like Asuna (and to a lesser extent his other friends) being sidelined. I get why Kirito doesn't want to get them involved, that's a pretty common attitude for this kind of hero to have.  But usually the plot contrives a way to get them involved anyway.  Here however they find out about it, but still never get to actually help.

The thing that really bugs me however, is how Kirito was in Gungale on an undercover mission but never actually reported anything he learned to the person who sent him in the first place.  We see him spend time back in the real world between qualifying the the Battle of the Bullets and entering it.  Yet when we meet up with his government contact during the BoB he clearly had not even been informed about there being a Laughing Coffin remember in Gungale.  And given he was diving in a specially arranged hospital room, why wouldn't they set it up to record everything he was seeing and hearing?

The rest of season 2 I have no issues with at all, Mother's Rosario is absolutely SAO at it's best.  And that I can recall there was no what I would consider Anime Style Fanservice.

Ordinal Scale has turned out to be similar to how I feel about The Dark Knight Rises.  As a stand alone film I have no issues with it at all.  But as far as the on going SAO story goes, it's really annoying how after what had defined much of Kirito's motivations in season 2, he does not care that this AR technology allows them to basically interact with Yui in the real world.  And I think it's really going to show in time how it was written in 2016 to comment on things like Pokemon Go and Google Glasses, but is a Prequel to Light Novels written years before all of that.

Looking forward, I'm very curios about the Gungale based spin off.  And the next arc of the main story-line which it sounds like will start delving more into the A.I. theme of the story.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Winter Anime is Coming

Second week of 2018 Seasonal Anime coverage.

Code:Realize ended on Tuesday.  It was a good show, not what I was hoping it'd be, but it was good.

I watched the first episode of Violet Evergarden.  I probably wouldn't have if it wasn't the only new Dub starting at this time, Netflix and KyoAni were able to come to an arrangement so the Dubs can drop right when the episodes drop in Japan.

It's a well done show, not sure it can maintain my attention however, I grow wears of "those poor war veterans" type stories.

Anime Gataris episode 11 was insane, I'm absolutely loving this show, it's definitely the highlight of Fall 2017.

I decided to drop A Sister's All You Need in the middle of episode 11, I finally got bored with it.

Outside of Seasonal Anime.  I watched both Gundam Origin episode 5 and Thunderbolt Bandit Flower.

My only real issue with the first Thunderbolt movie was it's handling of female characters.  Bandit Flower has more so int hat area it's better.  But in other areas it's inferior, the weird cult story-line feels out fo place to me, and usage of Music was not nearly as great as in the first one.  And it's cliffhanger means it doesn't feel as much like a complete film.

Gundam Origin is still good, but I do not recommend watching it before seeing the proper Gundam Trilogy.  It's not as good a Prequel story as the SW Prequels or Fate/Zero.

I also watched Akira and 2001's Metropolis.  I don't have anything to say about them here just yet.

And I also just watched Hoshi no Koe, whihc is a pretty little short film.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I'm not going to watch Devilman Crybaby

I respect that it seems to be mostly satisfying it's target audience.  And that Netflix is helping fund new Anime projects.  But it's not the kind of show that appeals to me.

It's existence I would probably not comment on at all if it wasn't for Netflix involvement guaranteeing it'll be part of the face of Anime in 2018.  Because It embodies one of the boxes most people put Anime into based on what got localized in the 90s.

As much as certain people within the community complain about "Cute Girls doing Cute Things", outsiders still seem to mostly not even know that kind of Anime exists, or if they have seen it around they still have no idea it's become the dominant trend.

The thing that annoys me about how often people still put Anime into such limited boxes, is that Anime refers to all Animation from Japan.  And the truth is Japanese Animation has MORE variety then American Animation.  It's American Animation that mostly fits into only three (sometimes overlapping) categories.

1. Stuff for Kids, or maybe "the whole family" which kind of means the same thing to some people.

2. Adult comedies, from Simpsons to South Park to Adult Swim stuff.

3. Super Hero Comics.

Anime has equivalents to all of those, with arguably more variety within them.  And then plenty of stuff that can't fit into any of those.  From trippy art-house Anime, to Historical Fiction, to adaptations of classical literature, to teen dramas, to stuff that's kinda like Sit-Coms, to full on Porn.

So in addition to stuff like Devilman, I want to also see Netflix help fund more Anime that is reflective of what modern Anime is like and show that Anime is more then just Edgy violence.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The first week of 2018 is over

So in the first post on this I said what day of the week it happens may change.  While at the start I realized I may sometimes want to have this up before Sunday's over, it depends on the timing of things.

Code:Realize is not as great as I was hoping it would be.  But it has been fun, nothing I can say is wrong with it.

Yuki Yuna is a Hero season 2 has finished.  I would have prefer a longer season, but overall I like what they did.  I think it might have been better received as a movie.

Anime Gataris episode 10 was awesomely ridiculous.  It is definitely the show of the fall 2017 season.

A Sister's All You need episode 10 ruined my hopes of getting something truly gender subversive.  I normally wouldn't drop a show when I've already seen this much of it. But in this case I might.

Meanwhile I just watched season 1 of New Game, and I'll probably watch season 2 soon.

I'm glad Amazon ended their Anime Strike service.  Now we just need to find some way to resolve Netflix's disagreement with the Anime Community.  I don't want to lose the effort Netflix puts into getting stuff Dubbed.

Update: Overlord Season 2 has been added the list of FUNimation SimulDubs for the Winter Season.  So I'll be watching that as well.  I may have already decided to consider adding other additional shows, but I don't want to commit to trying anything else just yet.