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Dated 10 August 2010: I'm losing interest in Shiki

Megumi
I'm not sure I want to know what Megumi has in that enormous purse.

I was mildly impressed with the first episode of Shiki, and really liked it after watching it a second time, but after that initial episode I've kind of been waiting for the show to get more interesting. Mostly I've been waiting for Haruka Tomatosauce's character to reappear in earnest.

Megumi
Look, it was either this screenshot or one of catdude.

Let's get a four things straight, okay:

  1. It's vampires. It's completely obvious, and if you haven't figured it out by now you clearly are not trying very hard.
  2. If vampires weren't bad enough, this village has the bad luck of having the worst doctor. Where in Hell did you go to medical school, guy?
  3. The people in this show have either the best hair or the worst hair I've ever seen. I'm undecided.
  4. That dude with the cat ears that leaned on the horn in the middle of the night in order to wake up a complete stranger so he could ask for directions? He's lucky he didn't try that shit in America. He would have gotten a first-barrel-rock-salt, second-barrel-buckshot response.

Megumi
Swing and a miss.

Really, I can sympathize with Megumi and her intense frustration at being trapped in a small-town Hellhole she can't wait to escape. None of this ever would have happened to her if that dude she liked had taken lessons from Bing Crosby. Poor kid.

Dated 8 August 2010: Seitokai Yakuindomo is the surprise of the season

Hagimura, Aria, and Shino
My favorite parts are the announcements
accompanied by whistle and drum.

I only started watching Seitokai Yakuindomo because of its angela ED. The show's description in all the promotional material prior to the start of the season sounded dreadfully uninspired. However, this is not your ordinary anime student government. Amazingly, the female members are dirty as Hell. Hardly anything they say should be repeated in polite company. One of them drops two f-bombs (in English) during one episode. The comedic timing is pretty good, so the jokes work even if there's not much variety.

Tsuda, Shino, Aria, and Hagimura
Wide angles are funny.

Seitokai Yakuindomo is based on a four-panel comic strip, so I can't claim its wall-to-wall sex jokes are part of B Gata H Kei's legacy, but I do wonder why we haven't seen more of these kinds of shows before. You know, B Gata H Kei was also a 4-koma first. Maybe there's a whole slew of yet unexplored comic strip sex comedies waiting to be animated.

Hagimura and Tsuda
A bedroom as boring as Tachibana Kanade's.

Sex jokes alone aren't enough, though. Seitokai Yakuindomo thankfully includes small moments of character interaction that show there's more to this cast than just stereotypes. Although Hagimura is the butt of relentless short jokes, by isolating her with Tsuda for moments of friendship power-ups, Seitokai Yakuindomo really does add an element of tenderness to an otherwise crass show. It's a good mixture of sweet and sour in this surprisingly hot soup.

Dated 2 August 2010: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi is horrible

Urashima and Otohime
Try a little tenderness, Urashima.

The Ayako Doctrine doesn't compel viewership, but it does compel consideration. In the case of Ookami-san, being the only source for Kawasumi Ayako in the summer of 2010, I stayed with the show too long. Granted, it had an amusing first episode, but that second episode was God awful—easily the single worst episode of anything I've seen this season. The third episode was actually a nice bit of storytelling with some parallels to the fable about the ugly duckling, and the fourth episode even focused primarily on Ayako's character, but it's not enough. I stayed with the show through five episodes—long enough to determine Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi just didn't have anything worth watching, even with the Kawasumi Ayako + Horie Yui + legs-that-go-up-to-her-neck trifecta. I'm done with it.

Manami, Eris, and Itokazu
Asobi ni Iku yo! is awesome because it is preposterous.

On the other hand, Asobi ni Iku yo! is amazing. Why didn't anyone tell me this show was actually good? I was sold when I found out the Girl Next Door was a crazy stalker. Also it has guns and cars. And swarming robots with "..." signs.

Dated 22 May 2010: Love Hina and its place in anime history

Love Hina opening credits
At least there's no spinning watermark.

Although I own all the DVDs, I chose to re-watch my archive of Love Hina fansubs over the past few months. As you might expect, the video and audio quality is atrocious by modern standards, with 320x240 15fps encodes being the norm. (The entire season fits on two CD-Rs.) Depending on the group, the subtitles themselves can also be quite poor by today's standards. Many lines are poorly timed and some episodes were clearly finished by non-native English speakers. Every single episode was generally inferior from a technical perspective than the samples in my recent Chu-Bra!! PSP experiment. Nevertheless, Love Hina in this crude form invokes a certain nostalgia when remembering the brief, recent history of anime distribution in America.

Motoko and Keitaro
Try a little tenderness, Keitaro.

Love Hina was one of the first shows successfully distributed widely in entirely digital formats. Although the initial rips came from analog broadcasts, the Internet (and sneakernet) distribution of Love Hina episodes was accomplished digitally. Heretofore, American anime fans typically purchased, traded, or copied videotapes of fansubs. This is how I first watched All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, for example. For those unfamiliar with the medium, videotapes are purely analog, so the quality degrades significantly after each generation. If you were lucky, you got to watch something that was low enough on the copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy chain that it did not look like mush.

Tsuruko, Motoko's sister
Aneue > Onee-sama.

What a long way we've come in merely a decade. Fansubs today appear with soft-subs that can be turned off and video quality that surpasses DVD limitations by a large margin. No wonder the anime DVD bubble collapsed so quickly. I, like many buyers, contracted my buying habits once DVDs became clearly inferior to recordings of initial broadcasts—waiting for Blu-ray releases. I'm still waiting. FUNimation is taking cautious steps, but I won't be cajoled long by lackluster upscales.

Keitaro and Mutsumi
Keitaro's dilemma at the end of Love Hina is not
unlike Shinji's struggle with Instrumentality.

So what about Love Hina itself? Many former fans have recanted their affection for the title, disclaiming, "I hadn't seen much anime at that time, so I didn't know better." I still find Love Hina as charming and funny as ever. It balances a winning combination of absurd mechanized turtles and emotional resonance. It's a relic from a time of the big-boobed tsundere (before the stereotype turned into a complete joke), to be sure, and its harem comedy roots were unoriginal even then, but its cast remains engaging. Megumi Hayashibara is still absolutely dead-on as Aunt Haruka, and a round or two with Motoko reminds me how sorely Asakawa Yuu is missed. Likewise, the motif about promises still rings true today; it carries more import than the typical canned motivations anime characters generally spout. And perhaps it also implores viewers to remember a past they once loved and should not forget.

Dated 24 April 2010: Major season six off to a good start

Keene and Goro
Even this is a spoiler.

It's difficult to talk about the sixth season of Major without revealing numerous spoilers for the early part of the series. Major is epic, with long story arcs and characters that first appeared as small children now returning as young adults. In fact, if I remember right, Kaoru's little brother Taiga is the only character still in high school.

Taiga
Wow, an anime high school kid who isn't late for school.

To tell you the truth, it's a little difficult sometimes keeping all the names and faces straight. There's a running gag where Goro occasionally has to get old acquaintances and teammates to reintroduce themselves because they've been out of the show so long.

Shimizu Kaoru
I'm calling my shot. Shimizu is going to be Goro's Girl in White
during Major season six à la Glenn Close in The Natural.

Speaking of long-time characters, I wonder how they are going to keep Shimizu Kaoru in the story for season six. I certainly hope 2009's Girl of the Year stays in the game. I feel a little bad for her, since she's too good.

Shimizu Kaoru
Try a little tenderness, Honda.

It's hard to even discuss the OP with much detail since Japan loves to put spoilers in its OPs, EDs, and episode previews. I'm told Legend of Galactic Heroes is notorious for having massive spoilers in its next-episode previews, for example. I also remember one episode of Monster with a helpful warning from Soldats to avoid the next-episode preview due to spoilers. Them is some solid fansubbing ethics right there.

Honda father and son baseball jerseys
Honda father and son jerseys.

But I digress. I'm pleased Major season six begins with a new arrangement of its very first OP. I still prefer the original arrangement more, but this new version appropriately sounds more mature and I enjoy the numerous parallels found in their respective sequences. I don't know if this will be the final season of Major, but wrapping things up by coming full circle wouldn't be a bad way to go.

Dated 14 February 2007: Everything I know about women I learned from Bing Crosby

She may be weary.

George and Miyuki

Young girls they do get weary

Dominic and Anemone

Wearing that same old shabby dress.

Asuka

And when she gets weary

Dominic and Anemone

Try a little tenderness.

Miyuki and George

It's not just sentimental.

Asuka and Kaji

She has her grief and care.

Minmay and Hikaru

And a word that's soft and gentle

George and Miyuki

Makes it easier to bear.