Winter 2017 Anime: Shows I’m Looking Forward To

Winter 2017 Anime: Shows I’m Looking Forward To

The Fall 2016 anime season is almost over, and I am horribly behind on it, in part because Pokemon Sun has pretty much monopolized my time for a good part of the season. As such, a closeout of that season (and of the year of 2016 as a whole) will not happen for a while. However, anime time keeps on moving, and with the Winter 2017 anime season starting soon, I will go ahead and note all the shows I plan to watch, excluding a handful of sequels that I might pick up if I get around to finishing their preceding seasons before the season is over.

Note that, unlike for my Fall 2016 anime preview, I will not be ranking these shows. This is because, for better or for worse, there is no one show coming up this season that I am particularly looking forward to. Maybe one of these shows will turn out to be especially amazing, but for the most part, I am just expecting these shows to be decently entertaining. As usual, expect this list to be largely lacking in the sort of big-name or high-profile shows others will be raving about, as my tastes are in general quite different and I tend to be cautious about other shows; I may be willing to revisit shows that I hear good things about later on, though.

In lieu of a ranked order, shows will be listed in order of their Japanese TV debut.

Continue reading “Winter 2017 Anime: Shows I’m Looking Forward To”

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Anime Secret Santa 2016: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

Anime Secret Santa 2016: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

So I participated in Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa project this year, and chose to watch a show that was already on my “to-watch” list, albeit rather deep on it: Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. This show is part of the classic Lupin the Third anime/manga series by original creator Monkey Punch, featuring the classy thief Lupin the Third and various folks he associates with, such as his partner-in-crime Daisuke Jigen, his archnemesis Inspector Zenigata who’s hell-bent on arresting him, the wandering samurai Goemon, and his love interest and fellow thief Fujiko Mine. As you can guess from the title, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine focuses on the last of those characters, and looks at how she crossed paths with all of the others. As it is something of a “prequel” to the main Lupin series, though, I was informed that I did not need to watch any of the existing Lupin anime first, which I did not, so I will be approaching this review from that perspective.

Presentation

One reason I chose Fujiko Mine was because it was directed by Sayo Yamamoto, an up-and-coming female director who is currently trending thanks to the incredibly popular Yuri!!! on ICE. Having watched some of that (though I’m still somewhere around episode 4), I liked what I saw but not really knowing the director’s previous works, I did not really understand too much how her name built up hype for the show, so I figured Fujiko Mine would be a good show to take a look at what her style is.

Certainly, this is a very stylistic show with a very artsy feel to it even in the general setpieces. Of course, once Yamamoto starts throwing in the heavy symbolism, the visuals really get fancy. I wish I could describe the visuals better because they clearly are one of the major draws of the show, but alas, my knowledge of (and skill at) visual art has always been paltry. Just know that this show looks amazing.

That said, I have to put a HUGE warning about this show, both as a Christian anime viewer and one who frequently writes for other Christian anime fans. This show has a lot of sexually-explicit imagery and content. The female body (usually Fujiko’s) is displayed nude (with nips) frequently, and while no sexual acts are explicitly shown, they are definitely implied to have happened multiple times, with some moments being displayed with pretty obvious visual symbolism. I will say that this show uses these explicit displays with purpose other than fanservice, both to show how Fujiko willingly uses her sexuality to get what she wants, and to show outside of herself the kind of broken world she operates in. Whether said explicit content actually helps the show or not is up for debate–for the most part, it just made me look away from the screen most of the time–but this definitely should not be put in the same category as fanservice shows. It still will probably be avoided by many Christian viewers for conscientious reasons, though. On top of the sexual content, there’s also lots of violence, various rather disturbing events like human experimentation on children, and the general fact that these characters are living lives of thieves, which may also be of concern to potential viewers.

The music uses jazzy themes as befitting something of an old-school heist story, and are serviceable without being particularly notable. The Japanese voices are great, especially with the incredible Miyuki Sawashiro as Fujiko, but I did switch to Funimation’s English dub partway through since dubs are easier for me to multitask with (yes, I had things I wanted to multitask while watching this series); the dub itself works, though I am far from qualified to note any points of particular interest or deficiencies.

Content

So how does the story itself hold up? For the first two-thirds of the show or so, the episodes are basically “heist-of-the-week”. The stories are self-contained and generally entertaining enough as simple “can they pull off the heist” plots. They also do a good job at giving characterization to each of the characters. Overall, characterization is a strong point of this anime, as each character has their own motivations while also acting in ways that might betray their general motives but reflect the more complex personalities behind them.

Hints about Fujiko Mine’s past start appearing in episode 8, with the plot really kicking into gear starting at episode 10. At this point, everyone, viewers included, is getting curious about the question of “how did Fujiko Mine become who she is today”, and looking to the past for those answers. However, the show plays with those expectations a bit. I won’t spoil what happens, but it does provide an interesting look at both Fujiko Mine’s character and the whole concept of the show as a look into the past of Lupin characters. It’s also at this point that the plot does admittedly get a bit convoluted, though the payoff is solid.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I definitely enjoyed The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and I can definitely see why this show has helped to give Sayo Yamamoto the credentials needed to make Yuri on Ice a massive hype machine. That said, this show is not going to be one of my new favorites or anything. The heavy sexual content alone would more or less discourage that, plus, as much as I enjoyed the characterization of the show, I never could quite actually love any of the characters. It pretty much fits perfectly into my personal B-ranked shows as something I enjoyed and am glad I watched, but didn’t quite fall in love with. Still, to my Secret Santa, many thanks for the recommendation!

For a review score, I would give this a 7/10 for general viewers based on the strong artistry and characterization. If the darker themes and use of sex and sexual imagery are not turn-offs for you, then by all means, check out this show.

 

Pokémon Sun Progress Blog: Game Complete!

Pokémon Sun Progress Blog: Game Complete!

Editor’s Note: I actually finished the game almost two weeks ago, but for various reasons never got around to finishing this blog post until now. I will leave the content of this post as based on my game progress on Dec. 9th, when I intended to have the post go up, but I have since made more progress on the game.

I did it. I beat the game.

I still have all the post-game stuff to go through, and after that I will post my thoughts on this game in something that is kind of like a review. For now, though, here is what I have been up to.

Warning: spoilers after the jump, particularly in the Story Thoughts section.

Continue reading “Pokémon Sun Progress Blog: Game Complete!”

Pokémon Sun Progress Blog: Third Island Complete

Pokémon Sun Progress Blog: Third Island Complete

After a rather paltry liveblogging attempt, I’ve decided to just condense my thoughts on my progress in the game into a full, single blog entry. Having finished the third island (and other stuff), I definitely have a lot to talk about!

Something to note is that, up until this point, I have largely avoided looking up a lot of the more detailed mechanics and Pokémon info in the game, in order to experience as much of it “naturally”, with only what I already know and what the game tells me. However, at this point I feel like I have gone through enough of the game that I have taken some time to look up that info and familiarize myself more with the game’s inner workings and my Pokémon’s more detailed stats. However, I still have not looked up any Pokémon I haven’t seen yet or any info on the fourth island, and of course I am still avoiding story spoilers like the plague.

With that, here’s a look at where I am at the game right now. WARNING: Spoilers after the jump. Early on they will be only minor spoilers, but there are some MASSIVE story spoilers I will talk about towards the end. I will put another warning before I start talking about those, so keep an eye out.

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The Pokémon Sun Liveblog!

The Pokémon Sun Liveblog!

Pokémon Sun and Moon are within hours of being released! I have the digital version pre-purchased and as soon as it’s fully downloaded, I will start playing it and posting various thoughts on it here! (This is also to keep my Twitter feed spoiler-free.)

Since I don’t have any fancy liveblogging tools, I’ll just continually edit and update this post with new entries, so please refresh this post for updates. All timestamps are Japan time (JST).

Warning: After the jump, expect all sorts of spoilers!

Continue reading “The Pokémon Sun Liveblog!”

Fall 2016 Anime First Impressions

Fall 2016 Anime First Impressions

It’s time for my first impressions of the Fall 2016 anime season! While I’ll give quick impressions on all of the shows I’ve watched an episode or two of, there are a handful of shows I will go into deeper impressions for, either because they have something in particular I want to talk about or because they are shows I did not mention in my “most anticipated Fall 2016 anime” post.

First off, here are my quick impressions:

Sequels (including: Show by Rock!!#Sound! Euphonium S2, Haikyuu! S3): Sequels have to be judged differently from first episodes of new shows, since they are, in many ways, not “first” episodes. Their job is to continue what their previous iterations have set in motion. Drastic changes are only necessary if the past season suffered from significant issues, something neither of these shows had. As such, that I can say for these shows that they feel like they never left is all the praise they need. This is especially true for Euphonium, which was my favorite show of 2015, and started the season off with a double-length premiere that not only got us reacquainted with the band but also introduced the next big dramatic story arc. Compared to that, Show by Rock only needed to continue with its brand of craziness with just a bit of thoughtfulness, and that it did just fine, re-establishing itself as a fun weekly diversion. As for Haikyuu, we haven’t quite gotten major volleyball action yet, but we do get to meet up with some familiar faces and get a look at how far the team has come, and what they might expect going into this final match.

WWW.Working: Overall a bit toned down compared to the previous Working!! anime, which makes sense considering the original web manga actually predates the manga the previous anime was based on. Still, a fun cast of characters and solid comedy makes this show plenty enjoyable.

Kiss Him, Not Me: My only problem with the opening episode is not really being a fan of the “fat voice” of pre-transformation Kae; it’s a bit too stereotypical and forced. Once her transformation happens, though, the show is every bit as stupidly funny as the manga was.

ClassicaLoid: Absolutely ridiculous and fun. Not much else to say about this; I’m always up for a show that just does whatever the heck it wants and this definitely looks to be that kind of show.

Long Riders: This show actually felt more like a slice-of-life show than either the more sportsy Yowamushi Pedal or the more comedic Bakuon!. I’ve heard it compared to Yama no Susume, which isn’t too far off of a comparison. All in all, while not a standout show by any means, I’m always up for a nice slice-of-life show with a bit of a sports element, so I’m on board for more.

Poco’s Udon World: I’ve heard this compared to Barakamon and Sweetness & Lightning, as well as generally following the trend of shows about single guys taking care of children started by Bunny Drop. More importantly, all those shows are among my favorite shows, and Udon no Kuni looks like it will slot right in with them, with its gentle atmosphere, cute tanuki kid, and a small serving of feels. All it needs now is a bit more udon.

Magic of Stella: SO FREAKING ADORABLE. There’s also a decent little storyline about wanting to make a game and some of the trials that come with that, plus some fun character interactions, which combined with the ridiculous cute levels should easily make this show my “fuwa-fuwa” show of the season.

stella2

More in-depth impressions after the jump.
Continue reading “Fall 2016 Anime First Impressions”

Summer 2016 Anime Closeout

Summer 2016 Anime Closeout

Time to close out the Summer 2016 anime season for me! This season, like the Spring season, represents a heavy shift in my weekly viewing towards pretty much pure slice-of-life. Things have gotten busy for me, which has made it hard to keep up with anime, so I generally only keep up with the shows I can reasonably expect to maintain their quality and otherwise make for a good weekly viewing. As for other shows, if I hear that they ended up good (or at least something I would like), I save them for later to marathon or watch in blocks. (Just don’t ask about my current anime backlog…) I expect this to be how my anime viewing will work for the foreseeable future.

As for the Summer season, I find that Summer is oftentimes one of my favorite seasons for anime. This does seem to go against the general opinion of most anime viewers, which I attribute to how most of my moe/slice-of-life shows, which most people aren’t a fan of, seem to come up during the Summer season. This season is no exception, though I have found that unfortunately,  this season lacks any utterly amazing, A+-level shows. Thankfully, there are plenty of extremely good A-level shows and plenty of other great, memorable shows, so it’s still a very strong season if you ask me.

Please check out my “About Personal Ranks” page for more information about how these shows are ranked. Otherwise, without further ado, let’s take a look at what I watched this season and how they stack up against each other.

Continue reading “Summer 2016 Anime Closeout”