Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 27 February 2017: Welcome to welcome to Kemono Friends and the future of anime

Bag, Lucky, and Serval
Toonces, watch out!

If you've been paying attention to anime at all, you've noticed Kemono Friends exploded in the past month into an international phenomenon that's not entirely easy to explain. From the looks of it, it's popular because it's popular, but that's not to say this popularity is unjustified, because the show itself is quite good.

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Dated 10 June 2013: I started watching Aiura

Kanaka
It probably doesn't mean she has crabs.

I forgot to mention that I started watching Aiura. It's a pleasant enough show, but I don't have much to say about it because it's so short. (It's another one of those jobbies with four-minute episodes.) I guess I can say I also have no idea why crabs and Steve Jobs are in the OP. There has been some speculation that crabs refer to the zodiac sign Cancer1 since Steve Jobs died of cancer, but I'm calling that one a coincidence absent some more compelling reason why that would be in the OP either.

Saki and Ayuko
It's not easy being best.

I can also say that the show does appear to be the labor of love of somebody with a deep appreciation of the bare thighs of teenage girls. There is that. Oh, and it's the second show this season (along with Valvrave the Liberator) where the BEST GIRL is named Saki. If you include Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki, that makes girls named Saki three-for-three in shows from recent memory seizing BEST GIRL honors. When Genshiken Nidaime starts in a few weeks, girls named Saki will go four-for-four. I might be on to something here.


Note 1: Or possibly the genus, since hardly anyone in anime outside of The Melody of Oblivion seems to care about the western zodiac.

Dated 26 January 2013: Vividred Operation is three for three

Akane and Momo
I'm surprised there wasn't a Momo POV shot immediately after this.

Vividred Operation is not exactly a high-brow show, but it is consistently entertaining and there have been no occasions to complain about its production quality or execution. I'm also very pleased with its pacing through the first three episodes. Some people felt Vividred rushed Wakaba's introduction and integration in episode three, but while I would agree in the context of a 26-episode series, I don't think there's any time to waste during what will almost certainly be a 12- or 13-episode run. Hopefully, Himawari's introduction in episode four will be similarly quick.

Rei
Where did her bow go?

After these introductions, Vividred can get down to business devoting the remaining eight episodes to unfucking Rei's shit, and befriending the Bejesus out of her. Or maybe Rei ends up killing them all. It won't happen, but I'd be okay with that. Rei is going to be the lynchpin behind the success or failure of Vividred. If you can suffer another not-necessarily-apropos comparison with Strike Witches, the Alone appear to be as unengaging and faceless as the Neuroi. I'm sorry, but you can't try to build action scenes around bland opponents that nobody cares about.

Rei
I re-watched this to confirm it was a sunrise, not a sunset.

Using cardboard bad guys didn't work in Strike Witches, it certainly didn't work during the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS training arcs, and it won't work in Vividred with the Alone if Rei doesn't instill some life into the fights. It's possible to have have emotionless enemies that the audience finds engaging (see, for example, the first two Terminator movies), but they'll at least need to be menacing or unique in some way.

Stonehenge
I promise this is the last time I will make this joke.

As long as Rei ensures there will be an antagonist we care about in future episodes of Vividred, then the show will basically have everything. You want fighting? It's got fighting. You want flying girls hitting things with giant hammers? It's got that too. Standing-in-circles magic and fancy transformations? Yes. Bridge operators swiveling around to holler SITREPs to the commander? Well, yeah. Befriending enemies? Count on it. A talking weasel/otter/ferret/probably-not-a-mink thing? Of course. Butts? It's got butts. Fresh fruit? Holy shit, it's got fresh fruit. And how. (Tomato is a fruit, okay.)

Dated 8 February 2008: Princess Tutu

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu.

I'm finally catching up with Nodame Cantabile again. If this doesn't inspire me to start buying classical music records again, maybe re-watching Princess Tutu will. Not that I need another excuse to re-watch Princess Tutu, mind you. You see, I recently bought the Princess Tutu compilation box set, so I have a pretty convenient excuse already. I'm a little peeved at spending seven dollars more for it than I needed to (you can get the ADV box set now for $27), but the series is worth much more than that, so I'll get over it.

Princess Tutu compilation
Rue displaces Ahiru for the Princess Tutu cover.

Regarding the box set, have you seen the cover art? Holy crap. Lest ye be misled, take note that this cover art is in no way representative of the contents of the show itself. Okay, the artists who developed Kraehe were surely working on a dissertation glorifying anime boobs, but aside from that, this cover art is nothing at all like the show itself.

Princess Kraehe
Princess Kraehe.

Of course, ADV probably chose misleading cover art intentionally, because damned if I know how else they're going to market a show like Princess Tutu. A pretty box with frilly pink ribbons and prancing ballet dancers would be more accurate and appropriate, but accurate and appropriate cover art ain't gonna inspire impulse buys—discounting impulse buys from anime fans that know the fourth act of Swan Lake by heart, naturally.

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu.

So how does one sell a show about a little duck that turns into a young girl who turns into a magikal girl who saves people with the power of ballet? (Which is a BRILLIANT premise, by the way, but likely only in the eyes of people like me.) Sure, its soundtrack is almost entirely classical music, with a little boost from the late half of Melocure, but that's not going to sway the kind of customers who like to allege, "Anime is a medium, not a genre." [Spoilers: Those people are full of it.]

Rue
Rue.

I guess racy cover art featuring an emo ballerina squeezed into a merry widow is one way to go about it, and Rue does have legs that go up to her neck, but I advise potential buyers to simply sample the first few episodes. Watching the HnK/a.f.k. fansubs convinced me to buy the Princess Tutu Complete Collection DVDs despite being discouraged about ADV's Ahiru/Duck jazz. (Look, I don't care what your reason is; you can't subtitle the lead character's name as "Duck," okay?)

Princess Kraehe
Odile sympathizers, you know who you are.

Be advised that the series changes drastically mid-series by revealing the heretofore unknown nature of multiple characters. Nothing contradicts the first half of the series, but the lack of antecedent leaves me wondering if they concocted those changes at the last minute in order to extend the length of the show. I'm not really complaining, because the show makes the changes work, and I would have bought the complete series on the strength of the first half alone. In fact, the second half of the series is also quite good; it just goes off in a different direction. If I have a complaint at all, I guess it's that the show didn't take its numerous Swan Lake references even further and just turned Princess Tutu into an anime adaptation of the ballet for Odile sympathizers, straight-up.

In related news, clockwork > steampunk.