Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com

Blog Archives:

Dated 29 January 2018: DARLING in the FRANXX is more than a one-way reflection

Delphinium
The robots are named after flowers, but I don't know if there is any meaning to it.

Studio Trigger's Gainax heritage basically guarantees I'll give any of its shows a try. They haven't all been hits, but I'll generally find at least something to enjoy. DARLING in the FRANXX is Studio Trigger's two-cours science fiction partnership with A-1 Pictures featuring giant robots and lots of sexual allegories. The show is not at all subtle, with wall-to-wall metaphors about marriage, intercourse, orgasm, infidelity, and polyandry. And that's just the first three episodes. Unfortunately, it also stars an exceptionally dull teenage boy (because of course it does). At least he isn't a whiny brat, I guess. (That role was already taken by one of the supporting cast.)

(more…)

Dated 22 January 2018: Yuru Camp△ takes an early lead as Winter 2018's best show

Rin
Make a left at the fork and keep going straight. If you pass Mount Fuji, you've gone too far.

Yuru Camp△ is a blatant attempt at promoting camping and campsites. The show provides accessible instructions and guidelines to make camping attractive to neophytes and gorgeously depicts obviously real-life locations in transparent efforts to transform viewers into visitors.

(more…)

Dated 15 January 2018: Everybody relax, it's not as if they're tearing each other's clothes off in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni

Masami
Masami does not come across quite as lame in the anime as he does in the manga.

Right up front, you should know Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Love Is Like After the Rain) is about a teenage girl who falls in love with her 45-year-old manager at the family restaurant where she works part-time. Nevertheless, it is not as—as the kids say—"problematic" as you might think, maybe because it is seinen instead of shoujo. (This last part is not a joke. If you've read a lot of shoujo, you know the genre revels in "problematic" developments.) Assuming the anime basically follows the manga, I think we can expect something much closer to Sweetness and Lightning than, uh...actually, I can't think of a show off the top of my head that follows through with this sort of pairing. (This assumes Tsumugi and her teacher did not started tearing each other's clothes off at some point in the Amaama to Inazuma manga.)

Akira
There is a lot of glaring in this show.

Rather, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni offers beautiful animation (assuming you're fine with the elongated character designs) with solid WIT STUDIO production values and the potential for the noitaminA block to potentially mean something again. That is, you don't necessarily need to dodge the show if the premise makes you uncomfortable. (Likewise, if you find the premise titillating, expect to be disappointed.) In a season chock full of so many good shows already, I can't claim After the Rain qualifies as a "must see" by any means, but it is at least worthy of more consideration by potential viewers who may have prematurely dismissed it based on preconceptions.

Dated 18 December 2017: I dropped seven shows during the autumn 2017 season

I wasn't planning on dropping Kekkai Sensen & Beyond. I rather enjoyed the first season, but I found the second season just mostly all right. It's not that the quality dropped, necessarily, but rather I discovered I really did prefer the first season's anime-original plotline about White a lot more than all the various canned adventures each week. Go figure. Even sloppy Chain antics weren't enough to keep me interested, alas. I watched eight episodes and gave it a 3.64 out of 5.

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls' Last Tour) seems pretty good, and is well regarded on the Twitter, but it just isn't my sort of thing. I watched two episodes and scored it 3.43 out of 5.

Inuyashiki is...not very good. It has some good stuff in it, but it's an awful show that aspires to be good, the more I think about it. It has interesting ideas, but it would take a long time to explain all the problems I have with the series—much more time than I feel interested in giving it. Four episodes, 3.43 out of 5. I get the feeling it would score much worse if I ever re-watched those same episodes again, though.

The iDOLM@STER Side M does all the right iDOLM@STER things and appears to be a worthy addition to the franchise's anime lineup, but I'm not quite so interested in these particular characters. It probably could have kept me watching with a lot more 765 cameos. I watched four episodes (five, counting Episode 00). 3.00 out of 5.

Niwatori
CHICKEN IS TOP BIRD.

Juuni Taisen lost me by killing off the only character I liked. Worse, I had no interest in any of the other characters at all, and the entire show was pretty underwhelming for a battle royale. I also would have had no idea NisiOisiN was involved had I not been informed. Dude must have phoned this one in. It's not even bad in original or interesting ways. I just didn't give a shit and never felt as if I was given any reason to. Seven episodes, 2.86 out of 5.

I dropped Blend S after one episode and wanted to quit halfway through. That one fucker was too annoying. 2.00 out of 5.

I knew Itsudatte Bokura no Koi wa 10 cm Datta. (Our love has always been 10 centimeters apart.) was going to irritate me at some point. I didn't expect it to fall off a cliff, though. Three episodes, 1.89 out of 5. Its 1.53 standard deviation is easily the highest of any series I watched this season.

Dated 4 December 2017: Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shō remembers that Shimada Mayu is first among equals

Shiho and Mayu
In unrelated news, I'm pretty stoked Shiho is in this too.

I can't remember where I first heard Wake Up, Girls! characterized as "failure moé," but the term has stuck with me as a fairly apt way of describing the franchise, notably for its upward swings from being the underdog as the only idol show without a Sunrise affiliation, to achieving solid triumphant moments, including what was reportedly a stunning performance at Anime Expo 2017 in Los Angeles (which I missed). Unfortunately, the current season of the anime, Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter, has fared woefully from an animation standpoint, giving the impression that the WUGs have taken a couple steps backwards. The Yamakan-helmed first season had its own problems at times, but nothing anywhere near this dire. Through seven episodes, extensive use of stills and slow pans turn much of the show into a radio drama, and it's obvious quite a bit of daylight separates reality and desire when it comes to production efforts. Problems plague even the official subtitles, which continue to display an incorrect name for one of the main characters in the opening credits even now.

(more…)

Dated 27 November 2017: Love Live! Sunshine!! is better than First Love Live

Riko and Yohane
There aren't enough scenes of Yoshiko without her clip-on hair ball.

I'm not a huge fan of the Love Live franchise, but I like it all right. Despite dropping the original series after five episodes in 2013, I gave it another try a few months ago, and decided it's okay. The rookie season of Love Live! Sunshine!! capitalized on the first generation's momentum, and Sunshine's second season appears to be even more adept at this whole School Idol business. It's gotten very good at meeting the expectations of its audience while working within the same group's constraints to ensure the right flavor of success. It knows how to goose its fans with moments designed to boost the characters' charisma precisely in the eyes of their followers. For potential viewers less inclined to venture into the School Idol universe, it likely all looks like pandering and otaku tropes, so I don't expect the series to offer much crossover appeal.

Ruby and Leah
Go on, Ruby, curse the bitch out.

If you're into it, though, Love Live! Sunshine!! second season hits all its marks and doesn't go too far with its fan-tailored moments. For example, there are regular gags about Yohane's chuuni bullshit, but never too much of it, not even in the Yoshiko episode about the robot dog. Sunshine succeeds in drawing upon its characters' strengths, especially now that the second season doesn't have to slog through bits about Dia being an ol' sourpuss like the first season did. Sunshine S2 has even managed to raise my opinion of Ruby (one of my least-favorite characters of the entire franchise) by positioning her opposite Dark Ruby from Saint Snow in episode eight. I still only regard the series as "mostly okay," and it currently scores 0.2/5 below the Detective Conan line and 1.5/5 over the Cosprayers line, but you'll probably enjoy it even more if you're mostly predisposed to like this sort of thing already.

Dated 20 November 2017: Just Because! is good even when it is not about baseball

Mio
I guarantee Himura Kiseki wanted to give her huge breasts.

If you're not watching Just Because!, you may at least have seen discussions about it on the Twitter, mostly about how it's apparently always on the verge of a production meltdown. Alternatively, you might also have heard about it because its character designer is the artist who provides weekly blue illustrations of buxom characters every Monday morning. Just Because! also featured in its first episode a very well done baseball sequence, a motif that reappears during the series. Really, the series is about romance, and unrequited love, and people being too chickenshit to let others know how they feel, but it's all the other parts that ensure the show works. Usually, the part about teenagers not being honest with their feelings is a pretty big red flag when you're looking for entertaining anime, but Just Because! handles these various plot lines fairly well, at least through the first six episodes.

Ena and Eita
Go on, Ena. Curse the bitch out.

The real star of the show, however, is the Photography Club girl whose photojournalism skills are on point. I'm not all that familiar with Lynn, her seiyuu (I actually thought it was Haruka De Tomaso Pantera initially), despite her numerous past roles (of which, I'm most familiar with Keijo!!!!!!!!), but she's pretty good here. It looks like Ena is going to get laid out on the teen romance smorgasbord as well, which I guess is fine as long as Just Because! remembers to retains her comic scenes and occasional griefing.

Dated 13 November 2017: The second season of Kekkai Sensen doesn't seem very Beyond

Sonic and Leo
Leonardo Watch, default expression.

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond seems to offer about the same level of interesting developments and entertaining action as the first season did, but I'm still not quite as enamored with the show this time around. I think most fans of the first season were primarily concerned about how the sequel would fare without Matsumoto Rie directing, but I don't believe the series has suffered too much in this regard. On its face, Blood Blockade Battlefront ought to be as enjoyable as it always was. If anything, it ought to be better, since we finally got some episodes featuring Chain who basically did fuck all the first season. But Beyond seems to be missing something to me, and I think I know what it is: White.

Chain
Snappy dresser, great hair. Pity she's a slob, though.

This is probably heresy, since White is reportedly an anime-original addition to the first season. Nevertheless, I think White helped tie the series together by providing a more cohesive narrative in an otherwise mostly episodic series. Scenes featuring White and Leo getting to know each other better helped me as a viewer get to know them better. Aside from Zapp, I don't believe I can say the same thing about any of the other characters. And in Zapp's case, all I really learned is that he's sort of a dick, and often not in an amusing sort of way. Ultimately, Kekkai Sensen is still good (it's currently the third-highest rated show on my seasonal chart), but it's also a little unsatisfying because I can't help but feel as if it could be better. It is still very flashy, even though the screen dims during the frequently literally flashy scenes. (This seems to be common practice these days for reducing the risk of inducing seizures among those susceptible to such.) There is probably a metaphor in here somewhere, but it will take a better anime detective than me to find it.