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

Dated 10 July 2017: Alice to Zouroku is more frabjous than I expected

Sana and the March Hare
Fuck you, rabbit.

There are a lot of tonal shifts in Alice to Zouroku (Alice and Zouroku). The shifts themselves are not jarring. It's just that the show covers a lot more emotional ground than you might expect. There are people getting fucked up in fight scenes, but also scenes of a little girl joyously talking to the plants she's watering. There's also a dramatic arc which abruptly ends midway through the one-cours show. I don't know how closely the anime follows the manga, but I presume that must be at least partially responsible for the somewhat unconventional way everything plays out.

Zouroku and Sanae
You can tell Sanae is a responsible girl because she packed an umbrella.

Ordinarily, these sort of factors result in a disjointed show that's mostly a mess, but Alice to Zouroku is quite good the whole way though. I like that despite having superpowers, Sana is still very much a little kid with all the weaknesses and vulnerabilities that come along with that. It helps that Ohwada Hitomi does a fine job voicing her. I like the way Sana talks and the inflections she uses. I also like that the show is filled with interesting bits, such as its depiction of "Wonderland" and how various superpowers manifest. Naturally, I also like that there's a combat maid who shows up to bail people out from time to time, because of course there's a dependable combat maid. Ultimately, it's not so much that Alice to Zouroku is necessarily capital-G Good, although it is pretty good, but rather mostly that the show is really likeable. I think that's reason enough to give it a try.

Dated 10 September 2015: Overlord is about peace through strength

Enri, Nemu, Albedo, and Momonga
Here, try this. All the cool kids are doing it.

I was a bit surprised to learn the Overlord anime is apparently quite popular. I had assumed everyone else would have dropped the show after a somewhat slow first couple of episodes. And when I say "slow," I mean the first episode literally only covered the material found in the one-sentence synopsis found in pre-season write-ups for the show. Pretty much the only reason I kept on watching it is because the director, Itou Naoyuki, also directed Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu (although admittedly he was not responsible for episode three, the one I really liked). There isn't anything in the show that's bad necessarily, although I do think Hara Yumi is overacting Albedo's Turbo Dere comic relief moments. The episodes on a whole, though, are generally consistent, so I'm guessing most viewers will enjoy it about as much towards the end as they did at the start.

Narberal and Momonga
Narberal is pretty good at killing people but sort of shit at keeping her trap shut.

With regard to what Overlord is actually about, it's technically another player-trapped-in-an-RPG story, but it doesn't play out quite the same way as other anime with this setup. For one thing, Momonga doesn't even make token attempts to escape back into the real world. Granted, being a super powerful skeleton dude in charge a bunch of also super powerful steadfastly loyal undead folks is probably a lot better than whatever it was he had going on back home. Technically, all of these characters are supposed to be fearsome and evil, but ol' Momo (or Ein's Own Goal, depending on what he's calling himself on whatever particular day) goes about taking care of business in a fairly pragmatic sort of way, basically only killing people who need killing. (Naturally, Momo doesn't seem to have much trouble finding people who need killing.)

Momonga
You can tell Momo is going easy on them because he's using swords instead of his bare hands.

In a way, Overlord is not unlike Gate in that both shows take place in fantasy worlds where the "good guys" crush the living dog shit out a bunch of scrubs who thought they were badass until some Japanese folks came along and redefined what it actually takes to be badass in that world thereafter. With 10 episodes already complete, I'm not expecting Momonga or his minions to face any serious challenges, but watching Momo and his maids demolish random jackasses isn't actually as boring as it might sound. Considering how much people bitched about the JSDF exercising overwhelming force against armies of chumps with swords, and how many viewers argued Kirito was overpowered in Sword Art Online, I wouldn't have expected Momonga to get a pass. He's constantly overestimating the abilities of his enemies and dismantling them with embarrassing ease despite handicapping himself time and again, yet nobody seems to have any qualms about that. My theory is that it's because he's really tall and speaks (externally, anyway) with an authoritative voice. That and being a big skeleton guy. I'm pretty sure Tony Robbins had a chapter on that.

Dated 4 June 2015: Girls-with-guns trilogy re-watching project complete, or, Bee Train be the bee trainiest

Noir discs and merchandise
Noir DVDs and Blu-rays. Also pictured: Some random
swag that RightStuf was trying to unload.

I fuckin' love Noir. You'll know this if you've read some of my old ass blog posts on the series—ones I've been meaning to import into WordPress for like, years. You'll also know this if you follow me on The Twitter, as I recently completed my Bee Train girls-with-guns trilogy re-watching project. This was inspired by my acquisition of Noir Blu-rays which, conveniently, are a Hell of a bargain. I also had Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja DVDs which I had previously purchased but never got around to watching. As you can see from the picture above, I already had the Noir DVD box set (which came with a Kirika t-shirt), but the Blu-rays are still a great deal even for fans who already have the DVDs.

Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja DVDs
I probably should have used a picture of Elenore here instead.

I've already re-watched Noir at least twice in the past 12 years or so, but this was my first time re-watching Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja. Noir holds up if you're already okay with the incredible feats they pull off. For example, basically every shot Kirika ever fires results in an instant kill. She's shooting .380 ACP ball ammo for crying out loud. Of course, considering some of the feats she accomplishes during the course of the show, I'm reasonably certain Kirika could find a way to instantaneously kill a room full of Soldats flunkies using a package of Q-Tips. Neither Madlax nor El Cazador de la Bruja are quite as good as I remember though, and I didn't think they were that great to begin with. Madlax at least benefits from one of best anime maids of all time, but El Cazador is sort of dreadful to marathon.

Dated 8 October 2013: What Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya have in common

Natsuno and Kazuhito
Wow. Natsuno is sure in a good mood tonight.

At first glance, Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyō and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya probably don't appear to have that much in common, but I can think of at least one thing. Okay, TWO things if you include the fact that I finished watching both of them at about the same time and thus went looking for an excuse to force both shows into a single blog entry, but really ONE thing that I wanted to discuss: PERVERSIONS. Oh, baby, let's get it on.

Maki
When they point the finger it means you're a rival.

So, Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyō. Dog and Scissors. This show made no God damn sense. And I'm not talking about the part where a boy who loves books is murdered, gets his soul trapped in the body of a wiener dog with telepathy, and is adopted by his favorite author. That part I get. What I don't understand is what the deal is with his psycho kid sister and her MAGURO EATAH kitchen knife or the part with the singing maid or Maki the SHINING! idol rival author. And who was the broad in the wheelchair? Really, Dog & Scissors is terrible and somehow only managed to work in three jokes: (1) Natsuno Kirihime (Akiyama Shinobu) is insecure about her small breasts. (2) Natsuno frequently physically abuses Harumi Kazuhito (the dog) with a pair of scissors after he insults her. (3) Natsuno wants to have sex with the dog.

Natsuno
Always with the scissors.

Okay, not really really, but yeah, really. I mean, sort of really? There are a lot more bestiality jokes in Dog and Scissors than I was expecting, okay, even if most of them are just about tsundere bullshit. And while the show does end with a non-ending ending (which is probably why none of the things I mentioned earlier made any sense—they're probably explained in the light novels), it does sort of try to resolve the "romance" sub-plot at the, uh, climax. [SPOILERS] Natsuno gets drunk one night and takes the dog into bed with her, but ralphs all over him before she can force him into doing her human-style. Yes, Kazuhito narrowly avoids inter-species coitus from beyond the grave.

Illya and Ruby
I'm impressed Illya's anime bed isn't made of concrete.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya started late, ended early, but is coming back for more. I had relatively high expectations for Prisma Illya because I liked the manga chapters I sampled. I'm glad that it is returning for another season, because I felt the show only scratched the surface with regard to exploiting the subject matter or letting us know the characters.

Illya
Berserker-chan.

Most of us have probably formed some general impression of who Illyasviel von Einzbern is based on the Fate/stay night game, anime, and movie, as well from her appearances in Carnival Phantasm. Still, I think it is accurate to claim that viewers don't really know Ilya very well at all, since much of her personality comes from fairly stereotypical characterizations. Yeah, yeah, I was going to talk about how Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyō and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya are similar because of perversions. I'm getting to that.

Illya
Illya ruins her outfit.

As I was saying, even after Kaleid Liner, we still don't really know Ilya. Probably the main thing viewers will remember about Ilya is her fetish. As an aside, it was at this point in the entry that I struggled to find a way to use the word "cis" as a pejorative in the same sentence as the term "maid-sexual." I suppose it's not that strange of a fetish. I mean, for example, I bet being maid-sexual is a lot more mainstream than being obsessed with cake sex. It's just that Illya's encumbrance is particularly violent.

<&Nakar> To be fair raping maids is a Nasuverse tradition

I guess there's a third thing Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya have in common: Both shows could have looked better. Dog & Scissors was obviously low-budget and would have suffered quite a bit from this had the show not already been so low-tier. Prisma☆Illya had really jarring character designs, although I guess it's probably a good thing its mahou shoujo weren't blessed with superlovely character designs. Kaleido Ruby in particular probably would have been too dangerous. Besides, maid rape is easier to play off as a gag when everyone has knobby faces. (See also K-On!) I do want to point out Prisma☆Illya had rad fight scenes like three episodes in a row, though. Because of it, I'm looking forward to more from Silver Link, although I guess this means I might have to watch Strike the Blood now.

Dated 22 December 2004: Hanaukyo Maids: La Verite

I actually watched Hanaukyo Maids: La Verite in its entirety. Although it is only 12 episodes long, this was still something of an accomplishment, relatively speaking, since I couldn't get past the first episode of the original series. I quickly gave up on the original because the first episode really sucked, and its live-action end credit sequence was ghastly.

As I understand it, La Verite is not a sequel to the original Hanaukyo Maids, but a remake. I'm not entirely certain why this was necessary, but at least they fixed the closing credits.

Konoe Tsurugi
Konoe a little out of her element

Anyway, I only found episodes four, five, and six to be any good. Episode five is fantastic, providing you're familiar with all the references and with the voice actresses' previous work. Speaking of voice acting, episode four was mostly good thanks to Akiko Hiramatu (the voice of the teacher Yukari in Azumanga Daioh) as the security chief, Konoe.


But yeah, aside from episodes four, five, and six, every other episode fell somewhere between "just average" and "pretty darn crappy"—mostly because I didn't give a damn about Mariel. In fact, nearly all of the secondary characters (except for the triplets—they flat-out sucked—were more interesting than the two leads. Pity they weren't in a better show—one without Mariel and Taro.