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Dated 30 July 2018: Hanebado! teaches me badminton is full of bitches

Ayano
I love that Ayano has Mystic Eyes of Badminton Perception.

Impressive animation in the PV guaranteed I was going to give Hanebado! a try, despite knowing essentially nothing about badminton. Through four episodes, the animation quality remains higher than I would have expected, and the show itself continues to land solid hits on many of the sports tropes I enjoy. Notably, its star is a preternatural talent who is weighed down by a hefty load childhood drama.

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Dated 23 July 2018: I'm calling my shot: Mutsuko in Major 2nd will turn out to be a five-tool player

Hikaru, Mutsuko, Daigo, and Urabe
Daigo is short.

The second cours of Major 2nd has expanded the story to give more depth to the supporting characters following the first cours' focus on Daigo (Goro's son) and Hikaru (Toshiya's son). As viewers familiar with the original Major might expect, this includes making initially hostile teammates more receptive to the new kids now that they're proving themselves on the field. This does mean revisiting themes about putting expectations on the children of superstars, but it also includes said children showing up kids who didn't know who they up against.

Tashiro and Komori
Damn, these two got old.

Major 2nd does give a lot of attention to its new characters' heritage and there are frequent appearances by characters from the original series. For example, three of the current coaches we've seen thus far have played baseball with Goro. (Okay, four, technically.) Although this is not to say that Major 2nd is dominated necessarily by characters with direct ties to the original Major. Most of the players we've seen so far don't appear to have any connection to characters from the first series.

Mutusko
It's Major. Maybe her parents will die.

Notably, Sakura Mutsuko, Daigo's classmate and the only girl on the Dolphins, is turning out to be an exceptional player in her own right. Initially just someone who sort of tagged along, there have always been hints that she's much better at baseball than anyone realized. Now that she's actually applying herself, it's obvious that she can effortlessly hit for contact, and apparently she's fast on the basepaths, too (legging out a triple on her first base hit). Really, it's just a matter of time before we see her taking people deep, making ridiculous catches in right field, and gunning down opponents who dared to round third. It's an odd thing to speculate about considering how much of the manga is probably already out, but I rather prefer not knowing how things develop for Mutsuko for the time being.

Dated 16 July 2018: Hataraku Saibou is informative, whimsical, and gloriously violent

AE3803
AE3803 doesn't quite know her way around yet.

One of the more pleasant surprises of the Summer 2018 anime season is Hataraku Saibou (Cells at Work!) which anthropomorphizes a human body's blood cells and depicts them as industrious workers carrying out tasks such as ferrying oxygen to different parts of the body and fighting germs.

U1146 and AE3803
You get used to it, newbie.

It's maybe about what you might expect if you're familiar with these sorts of gimmick shows, but the execution is quite good. The setup is suitably clever, and the various characters are endearing. In particular, Hanazawa Kana is excellent as the newbie red blood cell, AE3803. I enjoy her panicky shrieks. They contrast nicely with her white blood cell friend's somewhat staid approach to executing bacteria.

U1146 and Platelet
Platelet is also a fan favorite already.

I'm not sure how long this will stay amusing, but there's certainly no shortage of different stories the show could explore. There are at least five volumes of the still running manga, and three spinoffs, so I'm fairly confident there will be enough source material to keep the show entertaining throughout the season. In fact, Hataraku Saibou briefly held the top stop in my Summer 2018 ranking (until the incredible first episode of Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight raised the barre). I'm not expecting Cells at Work! to remain quite this high for the rest of the quarter, but it is off to a strong start.

Dated 18 June 2018: Previewing new shows for Summer 2018

Yuki
Maybe she has PE first period?

After two strong anime seasons, I'm mostly ambivalent about the upcoming Summer 2018 season. The shows I'm most interested in (Overlord III, Major 2nd, and Hugtto! Precure) are all either sequels or continuations of existing shows. Thanks to the sheer volume of anime that comes out each season now, I'm sure I'll find plenty of acceptably amusing titles to watch, but I'm otherwise merely mildly optimistic about the synopses I've read and the PVs I've watched.

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Dated 7 May 2018: There's more to Golden Kamuy than 3DCG bears

Asirpa and Sugimoto
At least the smaller animals are 2D, even when they're delicious.

Golden Kamuy was one of the Spring 2018 shows I was looking forward to the most. It stumbled a bit out the gate when the first episode's infamously out-of-place looking 3DCG animals dominated most of the show's initial discussion. That this got the most attention is a bit of a shame, because Golden Kamuy has a lot going for it. Notably, the manga is good enough that a few misses in the anime adaptation are not going to be enough to ruin it. I didn't watch the all-3DCG Berserk, but the problems facing Golden Kamuy here are by no means as severe. It's not as if the entire show is 3DCG—just the larger animals when they appear.

Asirpa
Golden Kamuy is also about Asirpa looking displeased.

Seeing as how the show isn't actually about bears, 3DCG or otherwise, it's pretty good most of the time. Well, that's assuming you have an appetite for the horrors of war, collecting the skins of dead convicts, brutal violence, Japanese history, Ainu cultural lessons, and delicious meals made with freshly killed game. I suppose I'm not fully prepared to resist arguments that anyone interested should just read the manga instead, but I do believe the anime adds bits worth appreciating separately. I suggest watching the anime first before turning to the start of the manga. The way I see it, the anime will inevitably finish far short of the still ongoing manga's current position, and you'll probably want to read it anyway.

Dated 19 March 2018: Overlord II and Dagashi Kashi 2 have something in common

Momonga
Sure seems as if Momonga has spent a lot of his screen time this season sitting.

Both Overlord II and Dagashi Kashi 2 feature a lot fewer scenes of some of its main characters than I was expecting. In the case of Overlord II, it seems the vast majority of this sequel's screen time is devoted to minor returning goofballs or entirely new characters who mostly serve to expand the worldbuilding aspects of the story, albeit at the sacrifice of characters from the first season who I was hoping to see more of again. Not that Lizard Man politics and alliances are not interesting in their own right, or that I'm not engaged by old man good guy combat butler Sebas Tian picking up a teenage girlfriend who can reportedly almost cook palatable meals...but this wasn't at all what I was expecting from a second season of Overlord.

Zaryusu and Crusch
I admit I am amused by the albino Lizard Man lady who can't be in direct sun.

Based on other reports I've seen, the source material for Overlord does seem rather detailed and intricate enough to make me think its probably a lot better than other fantasy light novels. At a minimum, it doesn't appear as if the author is at all half-assing the writing, so perhaps the books are good enough to be regarded as regular fantasy novels and don't deserve the stigma I reflexively assign to most (but not all) "light" novels. The Overlord books have actually been licensed, and at least six English-language volumes are out already, so I guess I could give them a try. Hopefully they feature adequate amounts of Momonga doing Momonga-type things and aren't, like, wall-to-wall Lizard Man politics.

Kokonotsu and Hajime
Another Millennial desperate for an unpaid internship.

Dagashi Kashi 2, like Overlord II, has fewer appearances by its putative main character than I was expecting, but it also differs from its first season in few other ways. For one thing, it's a shorter, half-length show this season. The character designs are also a bit different, but I don't really have an opinion about this change because the voices are still the same. Hotaru's absence from a significant part of the season was unexpected, though. It's a sensible departure, in that it opens up space to develop the new character who temporarily fills Hotaru's role as the resident nutjob, but I'm not sure I'm totally okay with the lack of Hotaruness this season. Sadly, it also seems the original manga is ending soon. This Hotaru-free future seems less than ideal.

Dated 27 February 2018: The Ancient Magus' Bride? Still good

Redcurrant and Chise
I really liked this arc, but it was less visually jarring in the manga.

Two-thirds of the way through the second cours of Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride), the show is about as good as it was during the first cours. That said, the Autumn 2017 half finished as my top show of the season, while the Winter 2018 half looks as if it will finish fifth. This, though, results from the appearance of four outstanding shows in what is turning out to be a very strong season of anime. Meanwhile, episode 20 of The Ancient Magus' Bride also takes us past volume seven of the manga. That is, finally further than what I've read of the source material. With that, I think I'm finally able to view the anime for the first time the way someone coming to it fresh might see it.

Silky, Ruth, and Elias
Anime Silky is pretty great, though.

To be honest, it sort of reaffirms my nagging suspicions that The Ancient Magus' Bride works better as a manga than it does as an anime. I don't believe this is the fault of the WIT STUDIO adaptation, because it is beautifully done and the quality has remained high throughout. Instead, I suspect the stories featured in the series might just lend themselves better to print than anime. The occasional transitions to comic SD-style bits also work better for me in manga form than animated. Ultimately, I'm still glad the series received an anime adaptation and I'm pleased it has turned out as good as it has, but I'm left wondering if a television series was the best vehicle for it. I suspect, in hindsight, that a series of OVAs like its prequels would have been a better format. Thus, assuming the manga continues to run for some time, I hope we'll continue to receive further installments of the anime in time as OVAs or movies after the television series is over.

Dated 9 October 2017: The Ancient Magus' Bride reminds us that fairies are assholes

Chise
Arguably worse than mosquitoes.

The long-awaited anime adaptation of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) is really here. Based on the first episode, Wit Studio is faithfully reproducing the look and feel of the magic realm (well, England, actually) where 15-year-old Chise finds herself. Although it's probably unrealistic to expect the standard set in the three prequel OVAs and the first episode to persist throughout the next two cours, I'm fairly confident Wit will be able to do the series justice. It's a gorgeous manga, so expectations for the anime are quite high. No pressure.

Chise
It's been a long day.

Despite the title, Mahoutsukai no Yome isn't really about a child bride, although the opening minutes of the anime (and the opening pages of the manga) are meant to invoke some troubling impressions. There are dark undercurrents in the series, but they're offset for the most part by the magic and splendor of the story and setting. I'm seven volumes deep into the English-language releases by Seven Seas Entertainment, so I've got a general idea where the anime is going to go. I'm still a bit uncertain how to promote it, since this isn't a title that relies on tremendous highs or emotional whirlwinds to keep readers interested. I suspect some of the complaints I saw about the OVAs' pacing will apply to the TV series as well, at least among some viewers. I'm by no means suggesting The Ancient Magus' Bride is for everyone, but it definitely deserves investigating for at least an episode or two. At a minimum, it's a stark rebuttal to the typical complaints people have about "anime these days."