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

Dated 16 October 2017: Two Car looks good, sounds good

Yuri and Megumi
They're late for school, but not toast-in-mouth late.

It's not as good as Bakuon!! or Aa! Megami-sama through two episodes, but Two Car is pretty all right as far as a motorcycle anime goes. Whereas Ah! My Goddess (at least the manga) excelled at promoting motorcycles as magnificent machines offering transcendental experiences under theoretically plausible, realistic (banal, even) situations, Two Car takes an approach somewhat closer to Bakuon!!'s. That is, it presents medium-wacky motorcycle hijinks in a world which does not exist, but really ought to. If you can accept that sensha-dō is a real girl's sport, then accepting the world of Two Car where high school girls dominate the sport of sidecar motorcycle racing should be a cinch.

(more…)

Dated 28 November 2016: The End of Aldnoah.Zero ~Air/Slaine Did Nothing Wrong~

Asseylum
I'm going to assume Asseylum has lots of copies of this same dress.

Last week's "The Uncanny Valley of Military Anime" post did not explicitly name Aldnoah.Zero as one of the shows safely on either side of the valley, but I at least thought about it. Omitted for length constraints, I also did not address it because I've—for over a year now—been planning on writing a series of posts addressing various aspects of it. I think I have to admit at this point it ain't gonna happen, just like I'm never going to actually write that Pretty Cure primer or the rest of my Iriya v. Saikano comparisons. So let me at least address the part that bothers me most: The Ending. (Considerable spoilers follow.)

(more…)

Dated 24 August 2014: I like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun because Chiyo is remarkably orange

Chiyo
Tiny pictures are the way of love.

I got a late start on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, but was convinced to give it a try after being alerted that it invoked the the Ayako Doctrine. Not that you need to be an Ayako fan in order to enjoy Nozaki-kun. The show is quite clever and funny. Really, the only reason why I wasn't already watching it was because I ran out of space in my schedule while I was following dreadful wrecks such as Rail Wars! Besides, I sort of already had a general idea of what Nozaki-kun might be like simply by the way it looks. (Hint: Chiyo's enormous polka dotted head ribbons never stop being amusing.) Specifically, I trusted that it was the show's execution more than its setup that would make or break the series for me. I was willing to wait to hear how other people responded to the initial episodes first.

(more…)

Dated 1 December 2013: Needs more Golden Time Paris-Hen

Banri
I like how Banri wears his FUCK YEAH shirt all the time.

If you've been following me on the Twitter, then you've probably figured out that I like Golden Time more than my last entry about it might suggest. Potentially, this is attributable to the fact that the anime has now advanced beyond what I've read of the manga and original light novel.

(more…)

Dated 10 November 2013: I'm not sure if I should be enjoying IS Infinite Stratos 2

Houki and Cecelia
I don't remember why the ears were necessary.

As sequels go, IS Infinite Stratos 2 plays it pretty safe, offering mostly filler around a fairly uninteresting plot. It knows its bread and butter involves inspiring (somewhat facetious) arguments about the relative merits of the bevy of girls surrounding Potato-kun as he fails again and again to notice his harem's interest in him.

(more…)

Dated 1 November 2011: The Usagi Drop manga is different than otaku rage would have you believe

Rin
Daikichi's first impression of Rin is a recurring image.

Usagi Drop was one of the best shows from summer 2011, losing the top spot in my rankings only because of its brief 11-episode length. However, based on the outcry the original manga created, the anime's short run was its saving grace, due to the unspeakable horror of the manga's conclusion. Or so it goes.

Rin
Daikichi sees Rin for the first time, manga version.

I've long learned of the otaku penchant for gross overreaction, so I took the time to read the entire manga myself—something I suspected many of its critics neglected to do. Based on my findings, I can understand why so many otaku reacted the way they did, but I personally had no issues with the manga's ending myself, possibly because I'm much less critical of anime and manga in general; I at least try not to group things into only two categories—AWESOME and HORRIBLE—there is a lot of stuff in that middle ground I enjoy, even if I don't necessarily enjoy all of it.

Rin
Here, the Usagi Drop anime ends.

The 11 Usagi Drop anime episodes duplicate the first 25 chapters of the 56-chapter manga almost scene for scene. The anime is very faithful to the source material. The anime also ends where it does because of the manga's timeskip. That's right, more than half of the Usagi Drop story occurs after the timeskip, so arguably the latter half is the "real" story which the first part merely sets up. At a minimum, a truculent reader should at least grudgingly acknowledge the second half is intended to be as important as the first half.

Rin
Here, the Usagi Drop manga is merely beginning.

Spoiler Warning: I won't explicitly discuss the manga events, but most readers will probably be able to easily guess the spoilers from context with little effort. When I first heard about the post-timeskip outrage, I compiled a mental list of likely spoilers based on what I knew about otaku and what I knew about Japan and what I had seen in other anime and manga. Sure enough, this list of possible rage-inducing outcomes included two of the spoilers that actually occurred in the manga, although to be fair, I was incorrect about a material detail about one of them and the one I was 100% correct on was the one I had already intuited from a scene in the anime before I had even heard about the entire controversy.

Rin
Rin shows off her missing teeth.

So why so much hostility towards the manga's ending? Frankly, I attribute it to one (or both) of two reasons. One, otaku might not be exposed to much western literature and theater if they spend most of their free time voraciously consuming manga and anime. Thus, their expectations as to what is appropriate or acceptable follow different conventions. Two, these conventions themselves are tailored in self-perpetuating otaku-friendly ways to be non-threatening. Yeah, most people angered by the Kannagi ex-boyfriend revelation were joking, but notice how none of the K-On! girls are permitted boyfriends either; even a supporting character requires plausible deniability—even in jest—when she is shown with a possible beau. This is not to say that strangers to manga and anime would not revile the Usagi Drop manga ending, but it's possible those with greater exposure to a variety of "acceptable" endings may give the title more latitude because they are more liberal with their expectations. Expectations are probably key here. For example, because its audience has different expectations, nobody bats an eye when Oedipus has sex with his mother and later puts out his eyes, and nobody cares when a Shakespeare tragedy concludes with a half-dozen dead bodies on the stage. And how many readers of the popular A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels are offended by all the rape, incest, and teenage brides?

Daikichi's phone
Tiny pictures are the way of love.

I do not claim it is improper for manga and anime fans to hold different expectations for these works, but I do feel that those embracing narrower allowances contribute to the apparently collective overreaction to the Usagi Drop ending. And I do think they overreacted, especially the ones who were offended by second- or third-hand reports about how it played out instead of investigating the matter themselves. I can understand not wanting to "stain" a cherished impression created by the first half of the story, but someone forcing himself to look away to avoid something he's predetermined to condemn as distasteful strikes me as amusingly immature.

Daikichi and Rin
I forgot to mention timeskip Rin has legs that go up to her neck.

Yes, it turns out most of Usagi Drop is a teen drama, but it's not a bad teen drama unless you claim all teen dramas are bad as a matter of general principle. Guess what? After the timeskip, Rin is a teenage girl. And, like I said, since there are more chapters with Rin as a teenager than there are of Rin as a small child, Usagi Drop arguably is a teen drama. And it's not one of those teen dramas where nothing happens. There's kissing! There's sex! There's pregnancy! But there is also devotion and unrequited love.

Rin
Rin pays her respects.

Frankly, none of this would even be possible were it not for two key elements established in the first half. First, Rin explicitly rejects Daikichi as a father when he broaches the subject. Second, six-year-old Rin is the sweetest, nicest, most well-mannered little girl in history, so Daikichi's parenting—as far as we are shown—consists almost entirely of having a job and being able to sign contracts. Instruction and discipline? Not so much.

Rin
Daikichi remembers how he met Rin.

We also don't see much parenting with regard to Kouki. We know he needed more of it, since he was apparently quite a hellion, but Usagi Drop omits a lot of details. There are at least three really big incidents that occurred between the two arcs, but aside from oblique references to them, the reader remains entirely ignorant as to, you know, what happened.

Inkwell
Rin's mother pays her respects.

I've probably said too much already, and if you can't figure out what the big deal is by now, you probably either don't know anything about Usagi Drop to begin with, or you weren't paying attention. If you have figured it out and still refuse to read the manga yourself because you're afraid of tarnishing the image formed by the anime, at least consider this: The first half of Usagi Drop is told from Daikichi's point of view. The second half is from Rin's and Kouki's points of view. This change is what makes the ending work for me.

Dated 11 August 2011: Sailor Moon could learn a thing or two from Cure Dream

Sailor Moon and Mamoru
Nice try, Moon.

I was much less impressed with Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon than I thought I would be. Being so iconic, I expected more from it. Compared to truly great mahou shoujo fare like Cardcaptor Sakura or Princess Tutu, Sailor Moon is really disappointing. In fact, contrary to critics who dismiss Yes! Precure 5 as a Sailor Moon ripoff, I can now counter that what I've seen of Yes! Precure 5 is better than the 46-episode first season of Sailor Moon.

Cutie Honey
This usually means someone's about to get fucked.

Most of my problems with Sailor Moon relate to its poor fight sequences which mostly consisted of Usagi shrieking until each Bishoujo Senshi used her ONE canned attack or relied on Tuxedo Kamen to subdue the opponent. Before anyone responds by claiming I'm not giving Sailor Moon a fair shake because of its age, Cutie Honey predates Sailor Moon by more than 20 years and Honey certainly has no problems finding new ways of smoking Panther Claw deadbeats. Unfortunately, it's not just that the fights don't change; Usagi doesn't change either.

Luna
Get pissed, Luna.

Hopefully things will be much better in the later Sailor Moon seasons, but when a mahou shoujo series can't muster enough emotional resonance to get me to care about the characters' lives, it had better have some bitchin' moves. I don't want to dwell on comparisons with Pretty Cure, the modern iteration of the Sailor Moon fighting-magikal-girl genre, but there are obvious similarities, such as the ages of the characters (14), the talking mascots, the transformation sequences, and magic weapons. (Granted, these are elements common to many mahou shoujo shows in general.) Curiously, the modern form is much more chaste. In Pretty Cure, romantic love is almost always unrequited, and there is never any fan service (unless you really want to see it). In Sailor Moon, however, panty shots are uncommon, but still overt when present. And one episode involved making out with an underage girl after getting her drunk. P.S. Spoilers.

Unfortunately, @byglu warns:

@Evirus And the first thirteen episodes of the second are the worst in the franchise. Enjoy.

Oh, balls. If I'm lucky, I'll start caring in the later seasons whether these Bishoujo Senshi live, die, get date raped, or find true love, but I guess I'll have to power through the next 13 episodes at a minimum first.

Dated 21 June 2011: Today's Viewer Mail excerpt

Minko
Minko's date is off to a good start.

Ron writes:

I've been a fan of your blog since June 2003....I especially enjoy jumping in the way-back machine for stuff like Nuku Nuku and SDF Macross. Lots of fond memories of those particular anime.

Minko
How do you feel about bulimia, Minchi?

Man, I've been doing this a long time. If you include the non-anime Geocities years, it's been almost 12 years. 12 years! I can't even remember what I posted about before this turned into an anime blog. I think there was one month dedicated to supermodels wearing stockings.

Minko
Wait, what do these pictures have to do with anything?

P.S. I also like how comments have never been enabled.

Well, I did add that Twitter button jobbie. Confidentially, comments are disabled so I can milk new entries out of reader responses instead of writing updates like, "Hanasaku Iroha was really good this week," and posting four pictures of Minko suffering through what was almost a date.

Minko
Oh.

P.S. Hanasaku Iroha episode 12 was really good—probably the best episode of the series so far. I don't despise Ohana's mother anymore. Tomoe > Minko > Ohana > Yuina > Ohana's grandmother > Namiko (Koichi's co-worker) > Ohana's mom > Nako (what is with all the KO names?) > Yuina's grandmother > annoying consultant lady.