In the grim darkness of the 17th century, there is only war! Don your armor and sally into the fray alongside the Podcastle in the Sky Crew as we discuss two works suffused with blood and battle: the 2012 trilogy adaptation of Kentaro Miura’s dark-medieval fantasy series Berserk and James Clavell’s 1971 cinematic epic of the 30 Years’ War, The Last Valley. Fanaticism, brotherly bonds, the weight of history and the tragedy of watching a beautiful film in 480p all await you in this month’s episode!
Turn your 2020 frown upside down with some opera – the space kind and the regular kind. In 1995, Operavox created a half-hour cartoon about Richard Wagner’s Rhinegold. Four years later, Leiji Matsumoto created an anime miniseries about the same opera, added some space pirates into the mix, and called it Harlock Saga.
How do the adaptations fare? Can you squeeze an almost 3 hour opera into a 30 minute block? Does putting everything in space actually work? Why are there so many pipe organs in the anime?
We cover all this and more in our 20th episode. Give us a listen – what else have you got going on?
We return from our hiatus to discuss two works about Westerns, indigenous representation, serial killers, and bloody violence. Yes, episode 19 is all about season 1 and 2 of Golden Kamuy and the 2015 horror-Western movie Bone Tomahawk!
PodCastle in the Sky is here to provide some easy listening in your time of quarantine. You’re welcome, world!
Get out your neon-tinged sunglasses and jack into our latest podcast about the cyberpunk worlds of Ergo Proxy and Neuromancer. Remember when anime was nothing but shows about mopey people dressed in black leather? Remember when Japan was the future and dead channels on TV showed grey static? We talk about all this and more in episode 18!
Warning: Podcast contains discussions of Neomarxists, Italo Calvino, and why we don’t like steampunk.
Join us on this month’s episode for a blast from the distant past! The Podcastle crew sets out to learn the meaning of true friendship through two retellings of a classic tale from Greek antiquity about two best bros and the bond of trust they forge together in the face of tyrannical adversity; first in Friedrich Schiller’s 1799 poetic ballad The Pledge (Die Bürgschaft) and then in the 1992 anime film Hashire, Melos (Run, Melos!) directed by Masaaki Osumi and featuring early work from the famed Satoshi Kon. Swordfights! Ripped Biceps! Despair and Triumph! It’s all here, on this month’s episode.
Fifth Episode Roundup
Right, so, remember nurse friend who got elevatored to death? Her brother is in the cursed 9th grade class 3. So the link isn’t just Main Dude re: the curse. And the class is runnin’ scared, yo – who’s next!? Will people just keep dying?? The class abandons Main Dude completely, shunning him to save their skins due to the word of Aggressive Pigtails Chick.
One young man disagrees with APC, and tries to tell Main Dude the class secret. But as soon as he tries to tell Main Dude who Creepy is, and I’m talking the words “Mikagi is -” barely leaves his lips, he keels over, has a heart attack and dies in front of Main Dude.
I admit I laughed pretty hard during his horrible death.
Anyway, it’s become…
To not talk to Main Dude, ever. Just as they shun Creepy. The teachers follow along with the rule as well. I assume this school’s certification is not valid since most school inspectors don’t look kindly on the explanation of “BUT THERE’S A GRUDGE GHOST! THAT’S WHY WE SINGLE A CHILD OUT AS A TOTAL SOCIAL OUTCAST!”
Then again, maybe someone in the local education board is greasing the palms of the school inspectors. Someone with a deep, untreated psychosis suffered by the students and employees of this school.
…I need to write this shit down and tell Kadokawa Pictures I’ve got an idea for a show…
It turns out that Creepy actually isn’t a ghost. She’s just the girl that the class chose as the sacrificial lamb to be ostracized to avoid the curse of the Ninth Grade Class, before Main Dude joined up.
Here we are with some actual answers.
So, 26 years ago, a chick who was super popular in the 9th grade class 3 died. Everyone mourned her like crazy, until a girl cried out “What are you talking about? She’s sitting right there, in her desk!” For the rest of the year, the students played along, as well as the teachers.
The following year, somehow the ninth grade class 3 was missing a chair and desk, even though the class number seemed to be correct. Then every month after school started one student or a family member of the students died. The conclusion was that, somehow, by pretending the dead girl was still alive, the 1972 ninth grade class 3 accidentally invited death into the classroom, and now a sort of…ghoul? I guess? – haunts the class, acting just like a live person, and setting the number of students off by one. Since no one knows which person it is, the class chooses a sacrificial student to ignore completely and pretend they’re dead. And this somehow offsets the curse.
Oooookay. I mean, it’s a little convoluted, but hell, what curse makes sense? Though it’s all very sad. Aw, some dead folk just wanna get a good education, and people have to go and pretend they aren’t there just ’cause they brought the horrible spectre of death on their heels.
And given that Main Dude was in the hospital for a collapsed lung, and his mother, we discover, died in childbirth while birthing him, Main Dude is a pretty good candidate for actually being The Ghoul. Then again, I totally bought the idea that Creepy was a sekret ghost, and not just a sad girl with an eye patch and a penchant for the macabre.
Creepy and Main Dude drink sodas together and discuss what it is to be totally ostracized “for the good of the class.” It’s a bit of a bummer. I rather liked it better when I thought she was a ghost girl, but now she’s just someone an entire school is ignoring for some rando curse. All she needs is another creeper to be her friend! Move on it, Main Dude!
I…I want these two crazy lovebirds to have mopey relations and make creepy babies, guys!
I also am okay with the rest of this asshole class dying. I hope Aggressive Pigtails Chick gets her hair caught on that eating cabbage patch doll.
Hey, my wish from last episode was granted! Episode Five was all workplace related, and digs deeper both into how the arbiters of death work, and what the hell is going on with Audience In.
The Ageless Child Manager sends a test for the Pale Man – essentially a workplace upkeep test. And Pale Man, unfortunately, fails the test. Two people come to Purgatory Bar, a belligerent man and a small child. Pale Man knows something’s up, but doesn’t do more than tell Audience In to be careful.
Suddenly, the belligerent man realizes he remembers the Purgatory Bar and takes the child hostage. Pale Man strings up the crazy person with his…magic spiderweb strings? But the crazy was a decoy – the real problem was the boy. He knocks Audience In the fuck out and gets all The Omen real quick.
Turns out the Pale Man never received the boy’s memories, which is a no-no. All humans have memories with which arbiters make their judgment. Child turns into a kind of assholey red haired douche canoe who makes fun of the Pale Man’s incompetence, both by missing the work test ploy and not officially judging Audience In.
Turns out Audience In is actually a human who remembered that she was dead when she got to the bar. She refused to play a game, and the Pale Man couldn’t bring himself to judge her without a complete picture of who she was. Ageless Child manager gave him an extension on judging her soul, erased her memories, and put her to work at the bar.
Red scoffs at this display of unmanly weakness and attacks the Pale Man with…bubbles.
You know, typical arbiter of death stuff.
Ageless Child Manager stops this nonsense, gives Pale Man a goodly dressing down for his failure to follow proper procedure, and tells Red to go back to work arbeting whatever other section of Purgatory he currently runs. I’m assuming he’s the guy in charge of judging fratbros who die of alcohol poisoning.
Anyway, there’s a feeling that maybe the Pale Man is a bit smitten with this human woman, and Ageless Child Manager is letting this shit slide because he’s actually better at his job with the woman around.
We also get a bunch of little scenes that flesh out this facility. Ageless Child Manager has a chit-chat over solar system pool with someone who calls himself “the closest thing to god” about her tenure as head Arbiter. He also says “God is long since gone” which is…ominous. Anyway, I like this closest thing to god dude. He’s like one of those hippies who saw the rest of their generation lose the spirit and decided to escape and open a head shop in some mountain village that’s a liberal island in a sea of red.
All in all, it was a great episode. Little hints about purgatory, little snippets about Audience In, and hey, we may get a small, star-crossed love story out of this show! Woo.
I assume that means the sixth episode will be another flavor of the week, then. Boo.
The Devil is a Part-Timer
OMG you guys, I am so excited. Lucifer is a cute lil purple haired adorable teenage demon of the deepest evil! Apparently Hero killed his ass back in their own world, but some high church official totes betrayed her.
Satan stops his Monologue of evil!
Loyal General gets pissed at Satan for wasting his allowance on movies!
Satan won’t take power from the pain and despair of humans in our world!
He gets shot the fuck up!
And then hoooly shit, spaloosh. So many abs.
The Hero and Satan bicker!
THERE’S A THROW DOWN IN THE SKAAAAAAYYYYYY! WOOOOO!
Loyal General shows up for this awesomesauce celestial battle, but only after getting his majestic cape!
Satan complains about the weight of falling debris!
Lucifer is TAUGHT A LESSON!
The high school girl is let in on the whole thing!
Seems the church back home is suuuper corrupt, and a few of the Hero’s buddies come to tell her that shit’s going down over there. She decides to stick around on Earth for now, to keep an eye on Satan.
Not at all so THE TWO OF THEM CAN SMOOOOOCH!!! EEEEEEEEEE!
So, Kayo, the little girl Satoru tried so hard to change history for, was still murdered. But two days after the original timeline. And he learns two big things – her mother was clearly in on it, given that she threw out all of Kayo’s things long before her body was found, and the child kidnapping has been going on with regular cover ups into his adulthood.
How did he discover this second fact? Because he was pulled back into his own present day – changed slightly by his actions in the past, but not enough to prevent his mother’s murder. As he evades the police and researches as much as he can, his coworker, a high school girl named Airi, lets him crash at her place as she trusts that he’s no murderer.
Unfortunately, this leads her directly into the path of danger. She gets a message from Satoru’s mother’s phone, and the last shot is of her passed out as her house burns down around her.
I assume that Satoru gets another chance to change history, though obviously things seem grim at the moment. What I like is the kind of tin pot-ness of all this historical change. It’s big stuff that Satoru has to try to prevent – the murder of children, and his mother. But he’s just a dude who can look up old articles in the newspaper as an adult and snoop around with an adult’s ability to process information when he’s sent to the past. It’s fun just seeing him flip through a true crimes book and realize he shifted history even a little, if not changing the course of the entire river.
Also, the mystery is really heating up. I have no idea what Satoru’s plans are when he’s a little boy for preventing the murders. But I’m rather excited to see how he does it.
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
Giant Fuckin Smoke Monster vs. Muscle Man and Rookie – GO!
Smoke Asshole Army Vs Boyshorts McGee and White Hair’d Stranger – GO!
Aaaand, now they’re just talking. Talking at the enemy. Taaaalking about stopping the enemy. Not fighting. Just talking.
And now we’re watching some rando Japanese spectators looking at the ship Boyshorts McGee and White Hair’d Stranger are fighting on. Just. Staring at the ship. Yup, nothing inter –
-FIIINALLY! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! White Hair’d Stranger is so good he splits a dude in two and then slides behind him and hits him in the back of the neck! Wooooo!
There’s still a lot of guys, though, so BadBoy and Captain Hair JOIN THE FIGHT!
…aaand they’re talking again. Just talking. Talking a lot. Talking. Good Christ, for as many swords as these … swords? have, they don’t really fight with them much –
AAAW YEEAH, THEY’RE FIGHTING! THE –
oh, COME ON! It’s like a half second hack and slash, and it’s over. And now all the Bishi Boys are just like. Talking. About who’s going to sail the ship back to fucking port. Oh, my god, show. There’s like five minutes of BadBoy being excited about sailing a goddamned ship back to port while the Bishi Team talk shop. And there’s no word on Fucking Giant Smoke Asshole! Nnnnngh!
Don’t make me quit you, Action Bishi Team!
WAIT! The Smoke Assholes are sailing a ship to Edo to try and burn the city to the ground and change history!!
MEANWHILE – Fucking Giant Smoke Asshole, Muscleman and The Rookie continue to fight! Smoke asshole is going after a an important historical figure directly! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!
Wait, no. Nope. No fighting. Now we’re back on the ship. The Bishi Team are…shoveling coal into the steam engine furnace. And arguing with each other. And running the ship aground.
Meanwhile, Fucking Giant Smoke Asshole signals to his ship buddays and Edo starts to burn the fuck up! The ship team smashes into the Smoke Assholes’ ship!
These Bishis are in trouble! And The Time Crime Team is using anachronistic warfare now to get the job done!
And that makes Muscleman supa mad. We finally get a really swell fight scene between Muscleman And Fucking Giant Smoke Asshole, and Muscleman WIIIIIIIINS –
– to death! Noooooo! Not Musclemaaaan! Your favorite food was Daifuku! DAAAAIFUUUUKUUUI!
OH NOOO – Captain Hair laments at the evil of the Time Crime Team and doesn’t see a Smoke Asshole behind him! He’s ganked! CompuFOX howls in despair! The Action Bishi Team turn into golden smoke and disappear into a sky portal!
SAD CHORAL MUSIC CLOSES THE EPISODE OUT!
IS THIS THE END OF THE ACTION BISHI TEAM!?
Fifth Episodes – COMPLETE
Fourth Episode Roundup
Okay, so! Umbrella girl is ded. Hard ded. And we get the curse laid out for us finally, four moody episodes in. Apparently, someone in the Cursed Ninth Year Class 3 dies, and the curse is triggered – every month for the rest of the year one of the class members dies, or one of their relatives.
So let’s get this slaughterfest rollin!
But first, let’s have a scene where Main Dude has an uncomfortable chat with a nurse he befriended while he was in the hospital. She accuses him of having a crush on Creepy, which OF COUURSE he doesn’t! He’s just really interested in her and follows her around and asks her questions even when she tells him to leave her alone!
And then he runs into a classmate whom we’ve never met in the three previous episodes and they have a polite conversation. I’ve already forgotten her name, I care so little about her. Main Dude saves her from a falling pane of glass Final Destination-style and she weeps about not wanting to die. I assume there’s a big target on her back, and Creepy is aiming for her.
Naturally all of this talk of sexy, sexy death gives Main Dude unnatural urges, and he goes back to the doll shop. Creepy is there waiting for him, and she must have been writing in her Hot Topic journal just for him. “The curse has begun. Are you going to class tomorrow? Then I probably shouldn’t show up.”
Awww, she likes him!
Main Dude goes home to his usually cheery aunt being pissy because she’s been getting bad headaches. So, she’s definitely cursed. I assume her head’s going to explode magnificently.
Anyway, she reminds him that the most important thing to do in Class 3 is to follow…
Unfortunately, no one told Main Dude that talking to Creepy was one of…
And now he’s being shunned for starting up the curse. Aggressive Pigtails Chick turns out to be assigned the class duty of preventing horrible, horrible deaths involving her classmates, which tells me that the Japanese school system is seriously on top of their shit. I assume the country is swimming in grudge ghosts, though, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.
Annoyingly, Aggressive Pigtails Chick failed hardcore by not giving the skinny to Main Dude. Unfortunately, the writers forced her into the plot contrivance of not just fucking telling him that talking to the ghost girl in class is like firing a weapon randomly into a crowd, so I blame them entirely for her failure.
And this curse is legit. His nurse friend got smashed the FUCK up in an elevator. Just like last episode, the death happened right at the end of the episode – although this time it was more obvious. As soon as the nurse got in the elevator I knew she was toast.
I’ll say this for Another, the show does not pull punches with the death scenes. They are fucking gruesome.
Despite still feeling a little try-hard, now that the slaughter commeth, the show has picked up significantly. I’m honestly interested in where this is going, now. The actual horror is starting to grow, and I appreciate that.
Cold open on the latest two people in Purgatory Bar. This time it’s some D-list reality show celeb who actually remembers who she is, and some dude. I’m actually wondering how the hell they got to this place – the last two sets of couples were involved romantically in some way.
Anyway, they push the game roulette and are told to play a video game against each other. As the couple plays, the woman gets quite an unpleasant flashback of her life – a beaten wife who became the star of a “giant family” show. And the young man came from some sad broken family who never took to his step mom because he was bitter about his parents’ divorce.
Meanwhile, the Audience In tells the Pale Man not to fuck around with the people, as he does every time he feels it’s pertinent. The Pale Man refuses, saying it’s the only way to get people into tight spots, so that they show their true selves. And we see why, because when the celeb starts to lose the game, she beats the shit out of the young man. And then immediately regrets it. And young man realizes he was a little bitch to his loving stepmother.
This is really a surprisingly touching and kind of fucked up episode. And Audience In seems to be catching on to how this game is played. Gotta get to the darkest deep of a person to know if their soul is worth bringing back into the world. However, I’m hoping that the show moves away from a Judgment of the Week structure, because I’m way more interested in the lives of the people who run this joint. They keep giving hints, and I’d prefer if it went the way of a workplace dramedy.
The Devil is a Part Timer
Satan is all muscly and helping people out of earthquake rubble! The Hero is bemused and incredulous that Satan would help people!
Hero has a flashback to her agrarian feudalist childhood where she’s taken from her loving father by the church to be taught how to fight the demon horde and soon after her neighborhood is burned to ash!
Okay, that’s not as cute. Uuuh.
Yay, Satan’s Loyal General comes and begs adorably for forgiveness for not keeping him from quake injury! He begs for punishment!
The Hero’s friend from the call center reveals that she’s from Kobe, and lived through this earthquake – they share a touching conversation about people not really understanding tragedy when they haven’t experienced it!
Okay. Also not like. Light and cute. UUUUH.
Loyal General wept all night from despair at failing his general! The Hero falls off steel stairs because her heels have no traction! The high school girl who has a crush on Satan catches the Hero and Satan together!
See, the Hero was confronting Satan about his horrible atrocities in their own world, and weeping over the death of her father, as Satan regretfully says –
AAaaww HEEELLL. This show fucking TRICKED ME! It’s undergoing Cerebus Syndrome! It drew me in with Satan’s hijinks about figuring out the ins and outs of living in Japan, and now I care for all these characters!
*grumble* ANYWAY it turns out the nefarious person causing so much damage is Lucifer, one of Satan’s generals. Obviously not Loyal General, who is appalled. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I guess I’m gonna CARE about all of this now, and get EXCITED about PLOT DEVELOPMENTS.
Stupid, wonderful show. I’m not actually that annoyed – they’ve done well with the comedic aspects while also, surprisingly, building up the characterization, so the dip into more serious matters isn’t really that jarring.
Satoru is now experiencing a common theme in time travel media – can he actually change the future in big ways, or is he stuck on a rail of time? Are the murders he’s trying to prevent inevitable?
He’s made friends with one of the children who was murdered when he was a child, and has learned that she is physically abused by her mother. While slapping himself around for not realizing this as a child, at the same time he’s relieved that he gets a chance to change things, hopefully for the better.
What he’s not seeing is that by helping this girl, he’s already changed things. In a previous episode, he called out his deskmate for trying to get the girl in trouble by sneaking all of the collected lunch money into the girl’s bag. Now deskmate is sullen and standoffish, certainly different from the last time he lived through this. And the girl is slowly coming out of her shell due to his kindness.
Meanwhile, his mother is much more clued in about his life, thanks to his adult perspective – he knows it’s a good idea to tell the adults around him that something is wrong. His mother comes to his aid to get the girl’s mother to agree to a small date at a science museum, and recognizes immediately the trouble that the girl is in. He’s also gone to his teacher, and finds out that his teacher has already planned with the local child services department to try to pull the girl from her home as soon as an opportune time comes.
I really love that the show explores this aspect of going back in time as an adult into a former childhood. I think everyone’s wondered what they’d do if they were given that chance, and on the top of the tier is the sense that you’d deal with problems with more understanding and with a better grasp of how to solve them. Not to mention simply having the courage to do and say the things you were too afraid to do as a child – which Satoru does in spades. He’s constantly saying things aloud as he thinks them, because his adult mind doesn’t have the child’s fear and social anxiety. Basically, it’s a bit of wish fulfillment for the adults in the audience.
With caveats. There are things he’s still missing because his memory is from a child’s point of view. He doesn’t have a full perspective on just what needs to change for him to truly “win” against history. He thought by staying close to the girl, he could keep her from being taken. Thought that her death was the result of a depraved stalker serial killer, because that’s what everyone assumed. He succeeds in changing history, keeping the girl safe from being taken on the original date of her disappearance.
But then she doesn’t come to school two days later. And now Satoru must rethink his entire plan for changing history, and start digging deeper into what the hell is going on in his town. Start really analyzing things from an adult perspective.
This is getting good, y’all.
Uuuuuuuuuugh just pressed play and not looking forward to it.
We open on some teevee news guys who have been sleeping in their car to get all they can of the amazing news re: Albino Bishi Alien’s arrival and “negotiations” with humanity. These guys are just about the only characters that feel like actual people in this whole fucking show. They’re rumpled, they bitch to each other, and they talk casually about who the fuck Albino Bishi Alien is. I like them, and they’re adding much needed humanity to this emotionless nonsense.
Unfortunately for me, we cut away from the Reglar Reporter Crew and back to Master Negotiator. His name, by the way, is Shindo. How do I know this? Because everyone in the government of Japan shouts his name whenever he appears. “SHINDO!” they cry, usually with longing or hope. Master Negotiator must have left a trail of broken hearts and love stains throughout the various bureaus – then again, if he didn’t, I guess I’d doubt his abilities as a negotiator.
Anyway, Master Negotiator gives the weirdest looking hug I have ever seen animated to some dude from another bureau.
Listen, I can’t throw a video in this post without upgrading our plan, and I need you to see this. You MUST see this. WATCH THIS HUG.
After this show of…affection? Master Negotiator is told he’s in charge of talking to Albino Bishi Alien. He turns down the job and asks to be fired so that he can work for Albino Bishi Alien with no strings attached.
All of this is total nonsense to me, given that, since I have no fucking clue why Master Negotiator is so into Albino Bishi Alien aside from the magic vomit marbles. But everyone takes this in stride like this isn’t total nonsense. And apparently everyone in the world is losing their minds about the idea of how to deal with infinite energy sources. The UN is demanding they have control of the vomit marbles so that no one monopolizes them.
I mean, it’s not like the Albino Bishi Alien is making as many vomit marbles as he can as quickly as possible, and that a single vomit marble can power a whole city.
Oh, he IS!? And they CAN!? And all of this arguing is POINTLESS!?
Transporting in a car together to some other negotiation hub, Terrible Purple Haircut talks shop with Master Negotiator about the vomit marbles and believes that people are too evil to have them. Remember, she’s on the Japanese side of negotiation, and talking to her rival. About humans, which includes THE JAPANESE, not being worthy of infinite power. She’s as shit at her job as she is with choosing coiffure.
She’s also made fun of by Master Negotiator in private for…a video going viral of her giggling at the name the scientists give to the cube ship’s … shippiness. There’s ‘haha, isn’t this funny!’ music, and she blushes, and this isn’t at all totally unprofessional. I hate you, Master Negotiator. And your weird hugging.
Oh, fuck. There’s a quirky scientist on screen now. She’s young, wears slippers everywhere, and gets over-excited by everything.
NnnnNNNNNGH Fuck this I am OUT! I can’t stand this show anymore! AAAAAH!!
*Viciously deletes from Queue*
Oh, my GOD. What a release. It’s like removing an abscessed tooth. Goodbye, Albino Bishi Alien! So long, Master Negotiator! Get a stylist who knows how to fucking cut hair, Purple Hair!
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
We open on UNDERCOVER SHOGANATES CHASING BISHI ACTION TEAM! Whataretheygonnadoooo??
Hide in the bushes. Like true heroes of time!
They escape the shogunates to Edo of the mid 1800s! Aren’t they excited!
They have to make sure some important surrender happens else WAR occurs! CompuFOX is ON THE CASE, showing slides to the Team and telling them their mission! And they wish to do their best on their FIRST TRUE MISSION AS A TEAM! EPIC MUSIC SWELLS!
Boyshorts McGee is caught out for his period inappropriate clothing, and he and Captain Hair are chased away from their stakeout. So far, so good, Bishi boys. Luckily later they get it together, and without needing to change their fabulous outfits, they manage to sneak around and protect the important so and so’s from history for a day.
But NOT SO FAST! CompuFOX has found an anomaly in history! Smoke assholes are on the way! BISHI ACTION TEAM – GO!
They fight one ugly sonofabitch smoke asshole who’s real fuckin’ strong! Oh, no, can the Team handle this shit!?
Despite itself, this fight is actually pretty well animated. Clinging and clanging and near misses and slow mos and all of that fancy shit. But it lasts barely a minute or two before a couple of the team run off to save history and instead of cool fights I’m forced to watch dialog and running and plots. Aw, maaaan.
No, wait, the episode is saved! Boyshorts McGee is fighting smoke assholes all over the place! But more smoke assholes begin to appear! Oh, noooo, will Boyshorts be okay!?
WOOO! Some new young man with white hair and a cheery demeanor explodes into existence from blue lightening! A new bishi has arrived, saving Boyshorts McGee from death! What weapon did he used to be before he was called on to fight time crimes!? Is his outfit as splendorous as the rest of the team? Will Time Crimes be thwarted??
TO BE CONTINUED!
Fourth Episodes – COMPLETE
Third Episode Roundup
So, creepy ghost girl in creepy doll shop creepily asks Main Dude if he wants to see what’s under her eye patch. Naturally, no one who isn’t creepy as fuck would ask this, and we’re gonna have to assume that means creepy shit is there – ooooooh yeah, it’s a doll eye. It’s a glass doll eye. Totally normal and not at all terrifying.
Of course, she goths out about the dolls after showing Main Dude her creepy eye – “They’re all hollow, filled with the void of death.” I’m pretty sure I heard that in a My Chemical Romance lyric once. She then tells the Main Dude her origin story, amongst insanely heavy strings, but with just enough ambiguity that we can all pretend that she ISN’T DEAD WHEN WE ALL KNOW SHE IS.
And then she mysteriously disappears, and there’s a flashcut to a bunch of students talking about where they’re going to go to high school. This scene is five fucking minutes long. I don’t care about your grades, glasses kid. I don’t care that you want to go to Tokyo for high school, aggressive pigtails chick. What the fuck does any of this have to do with anything!? AAAAH – oh, hey, it’s 1998. This is a period piece, and I didn’t know it.
Oh, hey! Fiiiinally, creepy ghost girl finally admitted that she’s a creepy ghost girl! Woooo. So much dramatic music! Main Dude is stunned! I am really not! As I’m yelling at the dumbass, some girl leaves her class quickly with her umbrella and – HOOOOOOOOOLY SHIT falls down the stairs and is impaled in the neck with the pointy end of her umbrella!
Well, that came out of nowhere and was a complete freak accident of a death. It’s almost as if Main Dude’s entire class is cursed because of creepy ghost girl.
ALMOST AS IF.
Still not sure what to think of this show – lots of unnecessary scenes, still trying too hard, and no one but the ghost girl tells Main Dude anything even though they all know, which is, as I said about Kado, one of my least favorite bullshit story shortcuts for tension.
But a girl got impaled in the neck with her own umbrella, so. I’ll keep watching.
Looks like we’re back into what I thought this was gonna be – a sort of “Purgatory story of the week” show. Two college age kids, a dude and a lady, show up at Purgatory Bar, and Pale Man and Audience In are there to greet them. Audience In is picking up her duties quickly, helping out the serious Pale Man in his arbitration.
Pale Man is also said to have a hobby creating manikins, which isn’t at all a disturbing thing to be interested in. But hey, he’s an inhuman being of judgement, whaddayagonnado?
Looks like the college kids are gonna bowl FOR THEIR LIIIIVES only not really, because they’re both already dead. The shock of their death made them forget. It’s all a big ploy to get the dead folk frightened enough to reveal their true selves. Also, the bowling balls have a representation of their hearts inside them, and they’re bowling with each other’s hearts. Last time pain was involved, but this time, they’re just like, having a nice, friendly game. Bowling with each other’s hearts. At the Purgatory Bar.
Wuh, oh. Memories are coming back. Which means we’re about to find out terrible, terrible things about these people.
OR DO WE?? Turns out they’re both adorable people and everything is cool! Aaawww, they have a heartfelt goodbye at the reincarnation elevators!
I will continue watching, and continue to gain pleasure from watching. I thought this was gonna be some weird Hell Girl situation, but naaah, it’s not all doom and gloom. Death can be kinda cute!
The Devil is a Part-Timer
Satan had to have the Hero guarantee that he’s an all right dude so he could take back his bike from the police! (Why the police have it is unimportant) They fight!
Satan’s General is dressing Satan for a date with Satan’s coworker! The show makes fun of Uniqlo! His adorably loyal General tails him so that the date goes well!
The Hero discusses the benefits of small boobs for breastplate costs!
The Hero gets into a public fight with the girl Satan goes on a date with!
Oh, and someone’s threatening both the Hero and Satan, something’s going on with earthquakes, and Satan gets some of his powers back.
But that’s not important because Satan’s General weeps over his inability to properly stock a refrigerator!
Man, this show is great.
The ambiance of this show really moves me. Everything about it feels like an adult reliving his past, the little things that used to be incredibly important to a younger you, and you’ve forgotten completely. But something sparks the memory, and it all comes flooding back (of course, we usually get this through flashback in real life, not actual time travel, but hey, it works). The details are fantastic – the way the kids move compared to adults, the way the children talk to each other. It’s just a really well-done show aesthetically.
Meanwhile, the mystery is growing deeper, and it’s fantastic watching Satoru navigate the world as an adult in a child’s body. All the helplessness of childhood is mitigated somewhat, but he has to move carefully to not make people too suspicious, or to make himself a target.
And there are legitimately moving moments. Goose bumpy moments. A beautiful scene under a frozen tree, a scene of a child being physically abused that makes you sick to your stomach.
Still watching for sure.
I just realized one of my big problems with this anime. It’s a 2D computer animation, which feels super creepy. Nothing moves right to my eyes. Also, the art is just kinda bland, aside from the kick ass cube space ship.
Aaanyway. Show is still taking itself super seriously. Albino Bishi Alien wants negotiations for…whatever the fuck it is he’s negotiating for to be public to the world. So some really overworked staff set up a sad conference table in the middle of the air strip. Meanwhile, the media kvetch about whether or not our ABA is a God, and also offer him praise for his openness to media relations.
Purple Haired Negotiator Chick is running a psych analysis on Master Negotiator, Serious Faces abound, everyone is grim, blah blah blah blah. Also, Purple Hair Chick’s haircut is shiiiit – she has some sort of bob laying over hair that reaches her waist. Who cuts their hair like that!? MONSTERS, that’s who.
They’re negotiating whether or not ABA should talk about who he is. I didn’t even know that was something to negotiate. Isn’t that like…just a greeting? Anyway, he’s from outside the universe, and makes his arm itty bitty to steal a water bottle as an example of where he’s from. And he explains that Japan is the best place to negotiate giving infinite energy to humanity because there’s not too much economic disparity. Great. I guess the Nordic states were too chilly for ABA or something.
He demonstrates the power by having his companion cube vomit battery marbles on the table, and then linking a bunch of cords to it. IT’S SUPER CEREAL, YO. THESE BATTERY MARBLES WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING!
Ugh. The tone of this show, and the animation, are starting to urk me. But I’ll watch another one. I GUESS. I’m starting to get eeeeh when it’s time to press play, though.
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
Oh, no, a Dutch steamer has been attacked! That could cause a war between the Netherlands and Japan, changing history for the worse! THAT CAN’T HAPPEN! BISHI ACTION TEAM – GO!
Muscle Man and Bad Boy are ON THE CASE, saving people on the ship! Meanwhile, Boyshorts McGee turns out to be a doctor as well as a short-shorts wearing anthropomorphic knife made human! The ship sinks, but the people are saved! Yay, probably no war!
Captain Hair informs the team that time didn’t change, and only nameless nobodies died. Badboy is totes angry that people died – really against death, this guy, for someone who is also a sword.
Anyway, looks like xenophobic terrorists from actual Japanese history are being helped by the Time Criminals to change history. Why? eeeeeh, who the fuck knows!? All Bishi Action Team know is that Little Reverse Loli Leader told them to, so FIGHT THEY MUST.
Turns out the terrorists aren’t so bad! Aside from their attempt to keep Japan a “pure” nation and kill any foreigners on their shores. You know, small shit. If only Badboy can make them stop attempting to kill a shitload of people so he can save their liiiives.
But he can’t – the Captain teaches him a lesson in letting dudes die if it’s historically necessary and the terrorists are slaughtered by the city constables. yaaaay.
Anyway, Action Bishi Team has a fight sequence, there’s a hilarious fight between clashing Bishis, they get a three day break before their next history jump and discuss the fun shit they’re totally gonna do, and the blood of Japanese nationalists runs in the river.
HAHAHAHAHAHA! *freeze frame*
MAN this show is stupid!
Third Episodes – COMPLETE
Second Episode Roundup
Time to dip into the second episode of these suckers. Spoilers, obvi.
I forgot most of these people already aside from Main Guy, Main Guy’s Potential Love Interest and Girl in Adorable Hoodie. Having 40 plus characters is not a plus, even if they’re given incredibly broad strokes for characterization. All I know about tall angry guy is he’s tall and angry and an asshole. Great.
Bus breaks down on the way to the mystical Lost Village. Mob of Unknowns walks there – we learn more boring backstory about Main Guy. Oh, great, he’s yet another youth who can’t look out for himself and needs someone else to take care of him – thus, his Best Friend With Dark Hair has joined him on this journey.
Now some OTHER asshole in the group – a glasses asshole – has the Mob of Unknowns give all their money to the surly bus driver. I guess because all these people are running away to the lost village to remake their lives, or whatever, and don’t need money anymore? Fine.
Jokes on them, though – they find the lost, abandoned village, and it just looks like some Japanese village from the 50s. Like, straight out of a Miyazaki semi autobiographical film. Shit’s grown over the buildings and stop signs and…is that a fucking school house?? Fine, okay, but they’re treating it like it’s mystical. I was expecting some like. In The Deep Past Village shit, not a post modern village that just needs a bit of cleanup.
Wh – someone is saying “Maybe the people who lived here built this up on their own?” That school wasn’t built without a backhoe, babe. It’s a ghost town, and a little spooky, not something removed from time built by the Hata or whatever. I’m severely disappointed by how people are treating the rusted bus stop as some sort of magic.
Boring flashback boring flashback, possible nefarious something in the town – oh, shit.
I’m watching Lost, the anime version aren’t I!? I refuse to be bored by all but a single episode of intrigue, only to be totally disappointed by the ending!
HARD PASS *swiftly removes from queue*
Let’s move on.
Okay, see, here’s the deal – these episodes are literally three minutes long, including the credits, so I just watched a shitload in one go. Or, rather, I watched an episode, and then googled the historical Japanese figure who was being riffed on, and then watched another one, and then googled, etc etc. I’ve learned a stupid amount about the Sengoku period now, thanks to this short anime series. I watched like, seven in a row. They’re cute, they’re silly, they feel like the art project of a bunch of friends.
Will continue watching.
The Devil is a Part-Timer
We’ve got the first episode with the theme song. Cuuute! Oh, man, every moment of this is pure joy. The CELESTIAL HERO of the realm Satan is from IS CONFRONTING SATAN! With a 100 yen store knife! She works at a call center!
She’s trying to figure out Satan’s SINISTER PLAN! His plan involves going to the bathhouse on time! There’s cute fighting between Satan and the Hero!
They’re totally gonna dooo iiiieeeet.
Oh, also, there’s some underlying plot shit going on beneath all this cuteness. It’s unimportant because Satan’s bike tire got a flat!!
Will continue watching.
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
We’re dropped back into the EEEEPPPIIC BAAATTLE That the first episode ended on! BISHI ACTION TEAM – GO!
Ooooh, one of them has a guuuun like a badboy! He’s gonna show these Time Criminals who’s boooooh, shit. That’s a lot of blood and cut up people. So I guess…time has been changed?
Totally unknown! Let’s go to Boyshorts McGee, who is killin’ smoke assholes by talking at them with his weirdly low voice! Badboy is shootin’ smoke bastards and scaring Dutch merchants! But it’s fine, the tiny fox creature who has magical computer powers says time wasn’t changed – just a lot of dead nameless guys, no biggie.
Woo! Tiny Boy Loli Leader has deemed The One With the Hair the team captain! They powwow at an inn and go around a circle to introduce themselves and share their favorite foods. Apparently they’re all weapons that gained sexy sexy human form. Because of course they are.
NOW! THEY! FIGHT! TIME! CRIMES!
This isn’t a great anime at all, but I’ll keep watching the Bishi Action Team for now.
Some chick wakes up in a tree, and a Young Girl Of Indeterminate Age takes her on a magic trolley to the Purgatory Bar. She seems strangely fine with this for not remembering her name or how she got here. INFODUMP – These people are the arbiters who determine who in a pair of humans who die together goes to heaven, and who to hell.
Ah, I see, this episode is the nuts and bolts of how the staff make the decision, showing the back end of the first episode. Looks like the nameless chick is our audience insert here, and is assisting the inhuman arbiters in choosing who gets reincarnated, and who gets sent to the void.
This show is genuinely enjoyable so far. Will keep watching.
Creepy girl with an eye patch is still creepy. And also still a ghost, even if we aren’t supposed to know that yet I GUESS. Meanwhile, the main character is still clueless, and his classmates are acting weeeird. “No, don’t go into that room!” *he goes into that room*
What’s in the room!? It’s creepy ghost girl, who is acting seriously goth. “I’m drawing this picture of a woman with wings. Is she an angel? Who knows? I don’t. Let me tell you this in a monotone.” Being dead doesn’t mean you can’t give us a smile, luv!
Not much happens, and then Main Dude stalks the ghost girl like a fuckin’ creeper. And then he finds out from a nurse that the creepy girl is dead right when he follows the girl to a creepy as fuck doll shop. The creepy string music is turned up to eleven at this doll shop. Creepy ghost girl with an eye patch shows up again and we leave the show with her taking of the patch dramatically. Great.
One actual cool thing about this show is that the main character is into horror, and they keep referencing actual horror and thriller authors. Clearly someone on this show was fanning out.
I’m not sure what I think of this show so far. It’s trying…really really hard. WAY too hard. But I’ll keep watching for now.
Wooo, let’s get this shit started. So, last episode Main Sad Dude introduced that he is sent back in time a few minutes every now and then to look for stuff that’s changed, when he was a kid a child killer killed two people in his school and a dude was framed for those murders, his mom was killed in his apartment by someone who may be the actual killer, framing Main Sad Dude for murder in the process, and Main Sad Dude was sent back in time to 5th grade, right before the child murders.
WHEW! So now we’re in 1988, and Main Sad Dude has to figure shit ouuuut.
First of all, the art is seriously great. I really enjoy the quiet moments, and the detail. It’s really rather lovely.
And I enjoy that this guy who was such a sad sack and rather angry at his mom for being a bit flighty is now super appreciative of her now that he’s seen her murdered. He’s all “Thanks for dinner, mom!” And “I love you, mom!” And “You really work hard, mom!” I would like to show this to my sisters and give them hopeful feelings that their children at 29 will be launched back into their present day bodies after witnessing disaster and then treat them with respect.
I uh. I should also probably call my mom.
Anywhoozles, the guy goes about figuring out what he should do now – and obviously it’s to prevent the murders that happened when he was a kid. Wooo! Let’s see what he can do with an 11 year old body and the mind of an adult!
Absolutely gonna keep watching.
Okay, so some Master diplomatic negotiator was luckily absorbed into this giant fucking cube of doom that landed on a Japanese airport strip. How fortunate! Now the telepathic Albino Bishi Alien is talking to all of the people with the help of this negotiator. I guess some chick with purple hair is gonna negotiate for the human side, and this masterful diplomatic negotiator will go for the Albino Bishi Alien? Okay, whatever.
MAN, this show is taking itself super duper seriously. The premise got silly the moment that the Albino Bishi Alien in a Cloak of Awesome appeared at the top of his giant cube ship. And it didn’t help that he goes through a lengthy naked creation scene. Watching him try to learn how to speak to humans was pretty great, though. Lots of whale song. He also has a companion cube! Cyuuuuute.
Master Negotiator was the one who told him to wear a power cloak. This guy is fuckin goood.
We’re given a few silent montage panels of Alien Bishi telling ALL THE SECRETS of who he is and why he’s on earth to Master Negotiator, but get none of them. Great. I hate that in media. It’s a cheap way to create a cliff hanger.
And that stupid ploy worked. Damn it. I need to keep watching. If it bores me next episode, though, I feel no qualms about dumping it like I dumped The Lost Village.
Aight. Second episodes – COMPLETE.
So, I have a weird relationship with anime compared to some fans. I dip in and out, depending on whether or not something strikes my fancy on Crunchyroll, Netflix, Prime, Funimation – you know, the modern portals for watching our imported Japanese animated television shows. But I don’t follow the seasonal schedules, I’m missing a lot of “classics” in my have-watched repertoire, I have the most basic working knowledge of studios gleaned from other, much more knowledgeable fans I know (SEE: Jesse, Will and Tom). And, as I’ve said a few times on the podcast, I am no fan of Giant Robots, which I know is like saying I like sushi but only if it’s cooked.
I am, for all intents and purposes, a Casual Fan of the anime medium. I only come to mass on Christmas and Easter, I say I like chocolate but only eat Hershey’s, I can’t even lift, bro. Hell, when my life gets busy sometimes the only anime I’m watching is what’s assigned for the next pod recording (as of now it’s Ergo Proxy – no, I haven’t watched it yet even though it was wildly popular when released and has been around for a decade. Are you paying attention?)
But what I lack in knowledge, I gain from being able to watch each show without the baggage of millions of fan reactions. I get to approach each show and movie with a clean slate and form my own impressions.
So, with that in mind, I embark on a special project: RANDOM ANIME WATCH.
I’ll watch a random sampling of first episodes from the master show list on Crunchyroll. I’m choosing them based on name and description alone – I haven’t looked up anything on these shows in advance. At the end of each first episode of this sampling, if I want to watch more I’ll put it on a master list of shows I’ll be watching and reviewing at my own pace. If the show creeps into unwatchibility for me, I’ll drop it.
With all that in mind, LET US BEGIN
First one was a strike out for me: Alice & Zouroku. Magical girl being hunted by some evil corporation of evil, meets an old dude who makes…stuff for gangsters. There’s a chase scene where she’s in his car in the first ep, and she’s explaining the powers that her enemies have –
“She can summon a bow, and her twin can summon anything with a chain! Like a bike! Or a wrecking ball!”
Nope. What a fucking lame power! A cutsie relationship between an old curmudgeon and a girl dressed like a birthday cake isn’t enough for me to forgive something as stupid as “summoning anything with a chain” as the power that someone was given by some entity. What kind of pointless madness is that!? What, “firestarter” was too derivative? Now our little magical girls need to be able to summon chainsaws at a whim?? RABBLERABBLERABBLE, I refuse to watch twelve eps of that!
The second struck my interest: KADO: The Right Answer. A giant cube from space lands at an airport outside Tokyo, absorbing a passenger plane. Scientists and the army and the govt tries to get inside it, to no avail. What’s going on inside the cube!?
HINT: It’s albino aliens.
Will watch more.
Third was a show called Erased. Feels kind of slice of life, dude trying to fulfill his dream of being a mangaka, but at 29, is failing and working at a pizza store. His mom is kind of childish, but loves him, he has a coworker who’s way younger and is a buddy –
– oh, and every now and then he goes back in time one to five minutes right before something terrible is going to happen. And he’s gotten in the habit of trying to prevent that terrible thing from happening. And there seems to be a serial murderer on the loose.
Will watch more.
Continued on with Eromanga Sensei, because it had sensei in the title. A light novel author in second year of high school without parents takes care of his recluse little step-sister. He doesn’t know who the illustrator of his books is – their pen name is the scandalous “eromanga”.
I WONDER WHO IT WILL BEEEEE!?!?!?
Lots of underage panty shots, a little girl draws erotic drawings and I get the impression that she’s a “stepsister” for a possible love interest future plotline.
The Lost Village struck my interest next, because it’s about youths looking for mysterious lost villages. Everyone was introduced like on Survivor by their online moniker. There were a lot of them. I don’t remember any of them but the three Yuunas. They’re all clearly tropey characters on the way to some Japanese Fantasy Island.
They sing a song about a hippopotamus. There’s a weird as fuck dream sequence. A bus driver goes crazy. Someone throws up on the bus driver.
I have no fucking clue what’s going on, and need to watch more.
Chose Another because I don’t remember. Looks like horror, I guess? The opening song is teeeerrible. Some kid has a collapsed lung and can’t start school. Creepy classmates visit him. There’s a really long scene in an elevator with an obvious ghost chick. The show’s music is delightfully disjointed. Fucking creepy ass dolls are used as transition pieces. Mysterious mystery is mystifying.
Yeah, I’ll keep watching.
Chose Sengokuchojyugiga because the art style is totally different. It’s pritay great, rando fuckin stories riffing on Japanese history and three minutes an episode. I’m gonna blaze through them.
On to Death Parade. Fancy bar, creepy bartender with white hair, a couple can’t remember how they got in the bar – they arrived on two separate elevators and all they can remember is driving on their honeymoon – and now they can’t leave the bar until they play a game. They’re playing darts, and the regions of the board are linked to parts of their body. They’re risking their lives while playing.
WHERE CAN THEY BEEEEEE!?!?
The art is nice, and I get to watch people argue violently with each other about the problems they had in life. I’m definitely going to watch.
Next is Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU, which I’m watching straight up because the premise was obviously riffed on by Kiss Him, Not Me, and that made me laugh and laugh.
First of all, holy shit, it’s like, got a kitsune buddy animal or whatever!? He has a computer collar! Aaaawww. And the screen is yuuuuge. The quality was so good that I had to downgrade for it to run properly.
Basically it’s, what… Magical Time Cops? In historic Japan? Yeah, cool, okay. Art is aight. Story is interesting enough. The Child Who Is Learning isn’t too The Worst. His teacher gives him Earrings of Encouragement, and he learns he can’t change history by saving people from terrible things, you know, unless it’s convenient – the typical lesson of the time cop in training. Also, there’s a lot of wind of power. And it’s basically a team of bishis fighting evul. One of them is wearing fucking shorts.
Yeah, I can keep watching this.
Tenth show! I clicked on Drifters because it seemed like a historical drama, which is my weakness.
Art’s real nice if bloody as fuck. Almost ridiculously so. I started giggling at it, because it felt like something from a 13 year old boy’s notebook.
And then, purgatory. Agaaain. Man there’s something about purgatory. Only not? Because Our Main Character From Japanese History was sent to some…elf realm? And then a bunch of historical Japanese people meet and they’re all in this new world? And then they…pluck ducks? And there’s a fuckload of silliness – I can deal with – oh, wait, there’s some sort of autocratic war about to happen in this land.
I don’t have the patience to keep watching. Pass.
Finally, we’ve got The Devil is a Part-Timer.
Wow, the beginning is epic. I was all, “Oh, no, Satan! Woooo, sky fight of dooooom! AAAH BATTLE INNA CAAAASTLE! OH NO SATAN! Escaaape from those aweful humans!
To Tokyo. Natch. Oh, no! He and his general are now teenagers and have no magic! Wait, no, Satan can still control minds. What the fuck are they speaking!? *googles* Engish, in a word substitution code. THAT must be a pain in the ass for the voice actors.
It’s pretty hilarious. A good fish out of water comedy. Watching Satan acquire the necessary goods to live life in Tokyo is pretty fantastic. Whole scenes of filling out applications and explaining health insurance and discussing the value of buying up front rather than in installments!
I am ALL OVER THIS SHIT. watchwatchwatch
Aight, let’s see what I’ll be watching from my random trip through the Crunchyroll –
- Death Parade
- Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
- The Devil is a Part-Timer
- The Lost Village
To be continued! – Amber