Anime and the Future of the NEET

I remember asking during our One Punch Man episode what the future of the NEETs in anime would be. NEET, of course, is a British term referring to those unemployed youth who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training, and in the podcast episode I asked whether anime in the future would be about grown up NEET protagonists worrying over not having a pension. Art must cater to its audience, and if there are so many Japanese people stuck in a pit of economic despair, won’t they want their lives reflected in the stories they consume?

It’s a few years later and I think I’d like to expand the question to include those who are horrifically underemployed in Japan. As the title of a Bloomberg article from 2020 reveals, Japan’s Lost Generation Is Still Jobless and Living With Their Parents. The article’s description of the Japanese job market is painful in its inequity.

The doors open only once. That’s how people often describe Japan’s hidebound hiring system, in which college students have their best shot at landing a coveted salaried position in the year approaching graduation. Those who successfully navigate the arduous corporate recruiting process will be rewarded with a secure place on the corporate ladder, along with regular raises and promotions. The rest are largely condemned to flit from one low-paying job to the next, with little avenue for advancement and zero job security . . . Japan’s 2015 census revealed there were 3.4 million people in their 40s and 50s who had not married and lived with their parents.

So here is Japan, here are its young people, and here is the miserable life of bare survival that they suffer through. What can anime say to this audience? How can it be relevant, especially when the makers of anime are also living through the same misery? (And when I say misery I mean misery: in 2019 it was possible for a new animator to make an annual income of 668,000 yen, which is around $6600 USD. Yes, there is no missing zero in that figure. There’s a crowdfunding project just to subsidize housing costs for the ones who make the anime we consume.)

I would say there are two ways for anime to deal with life in late-stage capitalism. The first is to acknowledge its barbarity. However, the logic of modern life is so crushing and inhumane that to depict it realistically is too much to bear for the artists and for the audience. The solution is to turn to comedy to soften the blow.

If we were to name the works of anime capitalist realism that are most well-known, we would not do worse than listing the classic series Welcome to the NHK!, which is about the people unable to compete in the marketplace of labour, or Aggretsuko, which is about the ones who did enter the ranks of the wage slave but who found no better life anyway, or Recovery of an MMO Junkie, which is about abandoning the existential despair of being alienated from your labour. For the present season of anime, we could point to Uramichi Oniisan, except it’s not very good and in fact rather painfully blah.

The second way for anime to grapple with the weight of modernity is more reactionary. Instead of meeting the real, the anime takes the opposite trajectory of escape. The escape might be through returning to a better time – see all the series where the protagonist wakes up as their younger self like Remake Our Life! or gets de-aged like ReLIFE – or it might be a literal escape to a better world. Yes, I’m talking about all the isekai shit that comes out every season, some of which are embarrassingly frank about being nothing but vehicles for wish fulfillment.

Those wishes being fulfilled might be as innocuous as being able to sleep in and work whenever you want and at whatever you want for as much or as little as you want, like in all those isekai series about farming in a fantasy town or whatever (see Restaurant To Another World for an example involving opening a small business in a fantasy land with absolutely no problems whatsoever). Or those wishes could be darker and more disgusting, such as indulging a sexual slavery fetish like in How Not to Summon a Demon Lord or Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (and yes, the protagonist is invariably a man enslaving women).

It may sound like I think anime about the real world’s unhappiness are better for facing up to the truth, but in reality I think both the path of acknowledgement and the path of escape can lead equally to nowhere. Obviously hiding from society’s problems make one less likely to help in fixing them, but merely knowing things suck doesn’t do anything either. Without a call to action, outrage leads only to frustration and then to resignation and apathy.

So even in our fantasies we can’t escape the inequity of our world. The rank unfairness of existence circumscribes the stories we tell and haunts the dreams that we create.

However, we should not slip into nihilism. I will remind you all that better conditions existed not very far back in time and can do so again, and perhaps be better, for even those older times had their own miseries. Our dreams can point us to another path so long as we remember that dreaming is not an end in itself.

So let us struggle for a better world: what do we have to lose?

Episode 22: The Secret World of Arrietty and The Borrowers

Join us as we chat about The Secret World of Arrietty and the novel it was adapted from, The Borrowers. Childhood fantasies, British colonialism, the state of the working class, Ghibli movies that weren’t made by Miyazaki or Takahata – we cover it all. Check it out pronto!

Episode 21: Berserk – The Golden Age Arc and The Last Valley

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!

Episode 20: Harlock Saga and Rhinegold

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?

Episode 19: Golden Kamuy and Bone Tomahawk

golden-kamuy

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!

Episode 18: Ergo Proxy and Neuromancer

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.

Episode 17: Hashire Melos and Die Bürgschaft

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.

RANDOM ANIME WATCH – EPISODE FIVE

Fifth Episode Roundup

Another

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…

THE RULE

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…

TO CONTINUE!

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.

Death Parade

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

:D :D :D :D

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!

:-* :-* :-* :-*

Erased

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

RANDOM ANIME WATCH – EPISODE FOUR

Fourth Episode Roundup

Another

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…

THE RULES.

Unfortunately, no one told Main Dude that talking to Creepy was one of…

THE RULES.

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.

Death Parade

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.

Erased

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.

Kado

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!?

WELL, then.

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

RANDOM ANIME WATCH – EPISODE THREE

Third Episode Roundup

Spoilers ahead

Another

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.

Death Parade

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.

Erased

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.

Kado

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