ANIME WATCH – EPISODE TWO

Second Episode Roundup

Time to dip into the second episode of these suckers. Spoilers, obvi.

Lost Village

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.

Sengokuchojyugiga.

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.

Death Parade

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.

Another

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.

Erased

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.

Kado

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.

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RANDOM ANIME WATCH – The Beginning

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!

Pass.

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.

HARD PASS.

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 –

  • Kado
  • Erased
  • Another
  • Death Parade
  • Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
  • The Devil is a Part-Timer
  • Sengokuchojyugiga
  • The Lost Village

To be continued! – Amber

Episode 16: Miss Hokusai and Artemisia

We spend our 16th episode pissing and moaning about a terrible movie we watched. We also spend it praising a fun movie we enjoyed. One of the films is Miss Hokusai and the other is Artemisia. They’re both historical films about female artists – the first is set in the 19th century Edo period of Japan, while the second is set in 17th century Baroque period Italy. Which did we like and which did we loathe? Tune in and find out!

Episode 15: Mobile Suit Gundam and Star Wars

gundam
In this month’s episode the PodCastle crew looks back at the humble origins of two iconic science fiction mega-franchises with 1977’s ripping space opera Star Wars and the three film theatrical compilation of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s 1979 television mecha series Mobile Suit Gundam.
In the years subsequent to their release, the aesthetic and narrative conventions of the science fiction and mecha genres would each be irrevocably transformed by the imprint of these two pieces of art. Is it now possible some 40 years later to disentangle and appreciate their value as individual pieces of art from their larger cultural legacy? How does one guide a Zaku into a death pose when being cleaved in twain by a giant beamsaber? Will Bright Noa’s urge to slap his underlings ever be satiated? All this and more on an exciting episode of Podcastle in The Sky Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

No, we have not been arrested for sedition

Contrary to the rumours going around the anime podcast community, no one in PodCastle in the Sky is currently being detained in Guantanamo Bay, only some of us are communists, and at worst, only half of us have ever been suspected of planning to overthrow the US government. Don’t believe everything you read online.

So what’s with the delay with releasing the latest episode? Well, your sound editor, Jesse, lives in Ontario and was distracted by the provincial elections. Also, his laptop is busted. Don’t worry, there are backups and shit. It’s just going to suck to start over at the beginning again.

Just to whet your appetites, here’s what we’ve got in the pipe:

  • Episode 15: The Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy vs. the original Star Wars trilogy
  • Episode 16: Ms. Hokusai vs. Artemisia (1997)

These episodes are already recorded, they just need sound editing. For the next episode we’ll be recording we are covering the anime Run Melos and comparing it to the poem Die Burgschaft (The Hostage) by Friedrich Schiller.

Anyway, that’s what’s up with us these days. Keep it weird, listeners.

Episode 14: Little Witch Academia and The Worst Witch

Witchcraft is the name of the game in our latest episode as we cover Studio Trigger’s  Little Witch Academia and the 2017 CBBC/ZDF children’s TV show The Worst Witch – two contemporary throwbacks to a simpler time in the media landscape.

Do you remember getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons and running home after school to catch Full House? Do you remember what it was like to believe in magic and to think that the world would never stop being your oyster? Do you remember when your body didn’t get weird aches, seat belts were optional, and people smoked everywhere? Even if you don’t, you should listen to this podcast.

I Should Have Saved That Pun For This: The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Book One: Deus lo Vult

A very fine look at the Youjo Senki source novels by ‘The Futurist Dolmen’ Blog.

The Futurist Dolmen

The Saga of Tanya the Evil - LN1 Cover

When I said I wanted to start reading alternate history stories again back in January, this wasn’t quite what I had in mind. About a month ago, I was browsing a small hole-in-the-wall forum and was intrigued by a few scattered mentions of a recent animé series set in a magically-charged version of the Great War. Since I’ve always been a sucker for alternate histories centered around the First World War, I threw the title into Google and was surprised to find a show from the Winter 2017 season that somehow managed to combine about a half-dozen of my interests into one package.

That said, this rambling post is not a review of that show. The Saga of Tanya the Evil, henceforth abbreviated to Tanya, started life in 2013 as a web serial written by the pseudonymous “Carlo Zen” with illustrations by Shinobu Shinotsuki. Since then, it has…

View original post 3,355 more words

Dear Podcast Listeners

We love each and every one of you. Every single uptick in our numbers gives us nigh-sexual pleasure. When we’re feeling down, or up, or neutral, checking to see the latest change in our analytics makes the lows go away or make the highs even higher.

However, there is a fundamental question we have been obsessing over since attesting like starting this podcast: Who the hell are you people?

We’re clearly filling a (very small) niche in the anime podcast community, and presumably it’s the niche for “overeducated hipsters analyze anime”, but we don’t know that for sure.

We get that. Thucydides and The Battle of Algiers rarely ever get mentioned in anime podcasts. We think that’s the gap that we’re filling. But are we correct?

Please tell us. What brought you to our corner of the Internet? What do you like about our thing? What don’t you like? Anything you say, including incoherent gibberish, will be read.

So tweet us, maybe.

 

PS

We also accept blog comments, Youtube screeds, iTunes reviews, and Bitcoin.

Episode 13: One Punch Man and The Tick

We go beyond good and evil as we discuss two superhero comedies: the anime One-Punch Man and the 2017 live action Amazon series The Tick. The nature of heroism, the ungratefulness of the common man, and the underemployment of Millennials are all things we cover as we solve all of Japan’s social and economic problems in episode 13 of our podcast. Sometimes we need a hero and sometimes we can’t hold out ’till the end of the night. In those times, we could really use heroes like the ones from these shows.

It’s Winter and Here’s Some Anime

It’s that time again, a new season of anime bullshit is coming our way.

This past season was a damn near embarrassment of riches both in terms of the expected (Kekkai Sensen, Magus, Garo) and wild cards (MMO Junky, Konohana, Anime-Gataris) among a number of others that all ended up being worthwhile.

This coming season will probably be a return to the standard equilibrium of seasonal quality, but there’s some promising stuff on the docket and some of last season’s strong outings (Magus, Garo) still have their second halves to play out.

As always, some shows that look generic at first glance will probably end up being great and some of the flashier ones will end up just being O-K. So here’s a bunch of preview trailers and dubiously accurate commentary on what you can expect.

————————————————————————————

Do you like KyoAni but bore of earnest high school girls chasing their dreams?* Well if so you can look forward to Violet Evergarden, the studio’s fantasy-drama about an earnest young war veteran lady robot-doll finding her way in the post-war world by putting the experiences of others into the written word.

It looks, characteristically, pretty great on the aesthetic front. Paying your animators living wages pays off, who knew. In a sign that this is the winter (anime season) of our discontent, Netflix grabbed up Violet Evergarden for the U.S market, so if you want to to watch in a timely manner you should probably go to [REDACTED]

Trigger and A-1 collaborating on a mecha anime, named with classic anime incoherence as Darling in the FranXX. It’s definitely got the Trigger look, but we’ll see if the plot and action also match the energy of their best stuff.

Citrus, a rather successful recent Yuri manga in the English speaking world with a fairly large fan base, is getting its turn at an adaptation this season by Passione, the studio that brought us Rail Wars! (oh no) but also Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (Pretty good!). Prepare for all melodrama that comes with Forbidden Love! at a straight laced girls school between non-blood related sisters.

Record of Grancrest War is here for all your probably overwrought strategic war fantasy bullshit needs. Dastardly nobles are using the power of the netherworld to oppress the common people, so do our heroes set out to end their tyrannical ways. Characters will probably reference Not-Machiavelli but also there will be battle meidos.

Pop Team Epic is a very peculiar comedy manga. Here is its preview, of sorts, for its adaptation. We will never forget your sacrifice, Croatian Otaku guy.

A kidnapping in the family unearths long forgotten powers in Kokkoku, spiritual tomfoolery and supernatural horror ensues.

 

Robots aren’t people, unless they are, and especially if they are cute anime girls, in Moe Runner 2049  Beatless.

Japan in the near future has become a crime infested dystopia. Killers are on the loose, but also killers of those killers that are maybe good? Nevertheless, stylish detectives are here to unearth the truth and also enjoy ramen probably, in Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens.

Do you have a thing for older gentlemen? Well, if so, here’s the romance for you in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni.

Yuru Camp. It’s a low key comedy about camping, there will be big coats and everything will be very cozy.

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho. Girls doing antarctic scientific research things and probably chasing some dreams. It looks nice.

Tiny fantasy people living in a big tree, doing slice of life things for you and for me.

A manganka was struggling to decide which of his fetishes, monster girls or muscles, would be the focus of his next work and then he just combined them into Killing Bites.

Masaaki Yuasa of The Tatami Galaxy, Mind Game and Ping Pong fame has his latest project dropping this season and that’s never not welcome. Yuasa’s spin on this source material it should promise to be quite the ride.

Cardcaptor Sakura’s back and in pog form to reboot the franchise for the youths, I hope you all enjoy Pogcaptor Sakura.

There’s still a bunch of other stuff, shonens, idols, a second season of that zombie webcomic show that people apparently watched, plus shorts. These could be good, or perhaps bad. (Some of them will definitely be bad.)

*Sometimes KyoAni is said to also make other things.