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

Dated 12 June 2018: In defense of DARLING in the FRANXX

Mitsuru
Look, it ain't that bad, okay.

Depending on which corner of the anime fandom you find yourself, I imagine you're either on the side that doesn't believe DARLING in the FRANXX needs defending, or in the camp that doesn't believe it deserves defending. My basic perspective on the show is that it is not capital-G Good, nor is it part of the "bad but has good parts in it" category, but rather that it is a flawed result of some efforts that I genuinely appreciate.

(more…)

Dated 9 April 2018: I'm looking forward to Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Tessa and Leonard
I guess you need to watch The Second Raid
to know who the person on the right is.

There has been a running gag for years about Full Metal Panic! fans in anguish about Kyoto Animation working on other projects instead of animating another sequel to follow Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. To some extent, I fit that category of disgruntled fans in the sense that I did want another FMP season, although it's not accurate to claim I harbored Kyoani any ill will, if only because I had long ago concluded no such sequel would ever be forthcoming. Surprisingly, there is going to be a fourth season after all: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. (Get it? Full Metal Panic! IV. Anyway....) Xebec is making this one, and it starts on 13 April. Do you need to watch the first three seasons before watching FMP IV? I dunno. Probably?

(more…)

Dated 14 February 2018: iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA is a classic story about a teenage girl and her giant robot finding true love together

Haruka and Imber
Shameless flirting.

I was a stranger to the iDOLM@STER franchise the first time I watched iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. I mentioned this before, but perhaps I should have noted I was also mystified by the amount of hostility displayed by some fans of the original games (arcade and Japanese Xbox 360 exclusive) toward Xenoglossia when the anime came out in 2007. Although I understood in principle the objections fans would have concerning the different character designs and replaced voices, I was not personally invested in any of the characters, so some of the more venomous attacks seemed excessive. Moreover, the character designs looked fine to me, at least relative to other anime of the period and Sunrise shows in particular. I finally watched my DVDs over the past few months, and actually enjoyed Xenoglossia a lot more on re-watch than I did during its initial broadcast, despite having a better understanding now of THE iDOLM@STER as a whole. Or maybe I like Xenoglossia more because I've watched several cours of bona fide iDOLM@STER anime now, not "despite" watching them.

Iori
Yukarin Iori with purple hair is good too.

Still, I'm not quite sure how I would characterize iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. It's not really much of a giant robot show for a show about giant robots, and it's not an idol anime despite having (regular-type) idols and iDOLs in it. It's not a "cute girls doing cute things" show, nor is it an early example of the more recent phenomenon where anime girls band together to be really excited about some typically male-dominated activity, like Bakuon!! or Two Car or GIRLS und PANZER. Honestly, it really is a love story about a teenage girl and her much older robot boyfriend. Notably, the affection Haruka develops for Imber is not at all unusual, as all of the other pilots also develop complex feelings toward their robots as well. In fact, jealousy plays a huge role in the plot, as do the inevitable love triangles.

Azusa
Also, Xenoglossia Azusa > regular Azusa.

IDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA does not take itself too seriously, but does not devolve into camp either. I buy into the HARUKA X IMBER pairing enough to believe there should be real questions raised about the ED once its setting becomes clear. I also enjoy the romance enough that I think I like the Xenoglossia Haruka more than I like the regular Haruka. Not that there's anything wrong with the regular Haruka necessarily, but I like the Xenoglossia Haruka's attitude better. Perhaps it's because she comes across as more of a main character in her own show, while the "real" Haruka necessarily seems more like a token default protagonist in a franchise with an ensemble cast, must the way I regard Miyafuji in Strike Witches or ol' Bucky in the Kantai Collection anime. I don't know if true fans of THE iDOLM@STER will ever regard Xenoglossia as positively as I do—the different voices must be especially jarring for them—but perhaps they'll come to appreciate the series if they think of it as one of those in-universe television programs the iM@S characters themselves occasionally feature in as actresses.

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 2 January 2018: Two Car has a third wheel

Yuri and Megumi
Yuri > Megumi.

I was expecting Two Car to devote episodes to all of the various racing teams which it had introduced at the start of the series. In fact, while it did do this for a few of the groups (including the announcers), the show instead concluded by focusing on the lead pair. Specifically, it focused on the lead pair and their would-be love triangle rivalry over their coach. After the show's only male (and faceless, to boot) character skipped town at the end of the first episode, I thought for sure Two Car would simply finish with some vague promise of pursuing him to the Isle of Man where they would TT battle for his heart. But, in fact, he returned so Megumi and Yuri could compete for his affection once again. (At least he has a face now.)

Nene and Ai
The episode about these two was pretty good.

Based on the reactions I've encountered, it seems Two Car is somewhat niche in its appeal. I found this a little surprising, but possibly that simply means I'm part of that niche. In any case, I enjoyed Two Car quite a bit for what it is and its GIRLS und PANZER approach to ignoring the genuine hazards of its rather dangerous activity. I was also not put off by the romantic subplot involving the coach. It's obvious Megumi's and Yuri's feelings will never reach him, and none of the other characters have the slightest interest in him. In that respect, it's a lot less objectionable than, say, a harem comedy where Potato-kun obliviously stiff-arms overly eager girls by the helmet as they inexplicably pursue him for no Goddamn reason. In Two Car, he's mostly just an excuse for Megumi and Yuri to continue bitching each other out. I know this aspect of the show also aggravated the Bejesus out of some viewers, but I'm rather a fan of otherwise likable girls being horrible to each other for my amusement.

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 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."

Dated 18 September 2017: The Tsuredure Children are all right

Kaji and Akagi
Best couple.

Tsuredure Children started out as an online comic that turned into a published 4-koma before getting an anime adaptation. It consists mostly of relationship gags involving the students who go to the same high school, thus showcasing a variety of different attitudes and personalities among would-be lovebirds who generally know each other. I say "would-be" because it seems the majority of these couples are of the "he likes her, she likes, him, and both are too chickenshit to tell each other" variety. This is not to say they are all like this; there's a whole range of folks in this spectrum. On one end, we have the aggressive student body president whose forward approach seems to bother quite a few people on the Twitter, and on the other end we have Potato-kun, the spastic otaku who irritates the shit out of me. The main focus of the various stories concerns the difficulty of expressing feelings honestly, and depicts the various consequences of each approach

Yuki
Girlfriend 1, Imouto 0.

The show as a whole is pretty amusing, and a mostly straightforward adaptation of the comic, albeit in a truncated fashion because there are a whole mess of different couples in the comics. With only a single cours of half-length episodes to work with, a lot of my favorite characters only appear as cameos, if at all. Notably, the anime is sorely lacking in Patricia, whose running gags spill over into the stories of a number of other couples, including the (also missing) teacher-student pair. The anime also omits the musician who hides her secret identity (poorly) behind a mask that she refuses to remove. Thankfully, the anime does properly retain the visual gags involving the couples it does feature, and the timing for the gags are impeccable. I would be in favor of Tsuredure Children getting another season, but chances are it will remain in the single-cours pit along with other good romantic comedies that feature intersecting narratives such as Nijiiro Days and Hatsukoi Limited, alas.