Almost two years ago I said "I did not expect this to be that good," when referring to ReLife, a little show that just sort of... snuck up on everybody. Short version of the plot: a 27-year old NEET is given the chance to have his problems (not all of them of his making) dealt with. He'd be given a good job with a good company, with interesting work to be done... in short, he could honestly feel like he could go out in public again. The only catch? He has to spend a year back in high school. Nope, not as a 27-year old, but as a 17-year old! There's been a... pill... created that will knock ten years off your appearance until you take the antidote. Sounds great, huh? Well, not so much... you're still 27, after all... no longer a teenager, no longer fit, you've been out of high school for TEN YEARS, if you're a smoker you've still got the addiction, and... well, your female classmates are kinda hot.
Yes, now you see the potential difficulties an adult could face in a situation like this. And it's amazing just how intelligently and realistically ReLife handles such matters. I mean, "realistically" if you accept the possibility of a magic pill and going back to high school, that is. There's also an interesting layer of wish fulfillment running underneath the surface: if you could go back knowing what you know now, would you? I hated high school, and even with 30 years of bonus experience under my belt, I'd rather faceplant onto a claymore mine than go back. But that's not really why I'm writing here.
No, the reason I'm writing today is to let you know that, sometime yesterday, the long-awaited ReLife OVA was released... the FOUR EPISODE LONG OVA. For a series that was 13 episodes in length. There is now good solid evidence that somewhere in Japan, there is a Production Staff that loves us and wants us to be happy. As opposed to all those Production Staffs that hate us, laugh at us, and makes us watch Rio Rainbow Gate.
I will not give spoilers, for no other reason than I haven't watched any of it yet. One bit of information that I have gleaned, however, is no spoiler: it picks up right where Ep13 leaves off. That's right kids, no "episode 8.5" here, it's a full continuation of the story! So if you've seen the series, why in the world are you still reading this? Go watch it! And if you haven't seen ReLife, why are you still reading this? Go watch it from the beginning!
Warning To Pirates, Yarrrr!
A few days ago, I found that one of the private trackers I'm part of was firing up red all over my torrent program. Nothing from that place was responding, but the other trackers still seemed to be working. Oh crap, have they gone away? I quickly visited the site, expecting to get a message saying they'd gotten a C&D, or had been DDoS'd into oblivion. Imagine my surprise when everything seemed to be fine! I looked in the attached forum and found out what was going on.
I've been using ÂµTorrent for a very long time, long enough that I can't remember if I've ever used anything else. While it's been updated a gazillion times, I've kept using version 2.2.1 over the years... I gather there's been some adware built into the newer versions? Anyway, ÂµTorrent has served me very well and faithfully. And the tracker site, which I've been using for nearly as long as I've used ÂµTorrent, had blacklisted all versions of it. Apparently there's been a rather unpleasant security flaw discovered in it, and Bittorrent Inc lollygagged on patching it... to the tune of more than 90 days. When the flaw was announced after three months, Bittorrent finally released a patch that for all intents and purposes, didn't work. Oh, it broke the exploit, to be sure... but in such a way that it didn't actually fix the flaw. I'm not a software guy so my understanding may be incorrect, but from what I've read the patch took the metaphorical keypad lock that the exploit used... and moved it six inches to the left. When the exploit went looking for the keypad lock, it wasn't where it was supposed to be. Tah-dah, all fixed!
For, like, an hour. Then the guy who discovered the flaw in the first place "moved" the exploit and voila, vulnerability still around. Because of this, and because the patch only "fixed" the newest versions of ÂµTorrent, the private tracker blacklisted it. As it turns out, the situation is a little more nuanced than that... for example, version 2.2.1 is apparently missing the keypad lock entirely and thus may not be vulnerable. The recommendation from everybody involved that isn't Bittorrent and ÂµTorrent appears to be "move to a different program." While there are dozens of torrent programs out there, after a hour or two of research, I've decided to move The Pond to qBittorrent. It's open source, there are no ads involved, the exploit doesn't exist on it, and it appears to operate in a manner that's very familiar to ÂµTorrent users. While I'd rather continue to use what I'm used to using, oh well. If you too hoist the black flag, you may want to look into this matter as well.
What's Wonderduck Watching? Winter 2018
Been quite a long time since I did one of these... long enough that I can't remember the last time. Which tells you one of a couple of things. 1) I never really did them as a regular gig, and B) I haven't been watching all that many shows per season, because III) there's been a lot of not-very-good anime recently. And I've been the optimist of the group!
But this season seems... different. Now that most shows are at least four episodes in, I'm fairly sure about what's what, and there's three series I'm definitely watching, another that I'm going to at least pay attention to, not to mention not one but two new Fate/Nasuverse shows! So What's Wonderduck Watching? Click "more" for... well...
A Very Pleasant Surprise Indeed
On the whole, I tend not to talk about manga here at The Pond for no other reason than I've got enough on my plate already. I can only remember talking about two manga titles in the 12 years The Pond has been going, though there may have been another few that I don't remember. Which doesn't mean I don't read them... oh, heavens no. I just don't... talk about it here.
Today though, I need to sing the praises of a series I discovered last week. I went into it cold, ordering the first two books from amazon sight unseen... hey, I liked the title. As it turns out, this gamble has paid off big time. Allow me to introduce you to...
...That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime. And really, what more do you need to know when you've got a title like that? It may not be the perfect title, but I'll be darned if it wasn't enough for me. But, as they say, you can't judge a book by its cover. How about what's under the title?
Our hero dies in the first few pages, stabbed breaking up some street crime. It's probably the only memorable thing he'd ever done, honestly. He's 37, lives alone, has a nondescript job, is neither outstanding or poor at it, doesn't much go out, plays computer games, and realizes that he's nothing special. As he's dying, he tells his co-worker to make sure his computer hard drive is destroyed. Heh. Then everything goes black. The End.
Not the end. He wakes up... and discovers he's literally in the dark. Can't see, can't feel, can't move, can't smell, can't ANYthing. Gradually, with the help of a computer-like voice only he can hear, he comes to realize that he's... a slime. The lowest of the low. The monster that nobody fears, not even civilian npcs. Except upon reincarnation he gained two skills: [predator] and [great sage]. The first lets him absorb the abilities of anything he... um... absorbs. The second lets him combine abilities in new and inventive ways, gives him an... "instruction manual"... to the world he now inhabits, and lets him access the memories of his prior life. So he's an INTELLIGENT slime. An intelligent slime that very quickly becomes the deadliest slime ever: by absorbing a passing bat, he winds up being able to spit poison, and talk (by modifying the echolocation of the bat). As time goes on, he gains new and useful talents, but there's a problem. He's alone. He's in a huge cave, with no obvious way out, and nothing around him is intelligent. Until... well...
Of COURSE the cave has a dragon in it. Not just any dragon, either: the most powerful of the four dragons in this world. Who was locked away in this cave a very long time ago indeed after being defeated by a Hero. Magic prevents him from leaving, and his magic aura is so strong that nothing with a magic sense... pretty much everything even vaguely intelligent... will even come close to the cave. The dragon and the slime become friends... they both finally have someone to talk to!... and eventually Our Hero comes up with a way to get the dragon out of the cave... by absorbing it without dissolving it. Or something. It works, but there's an unintended consequence... of course. Hijinks ensue.
This is not a perfect manga. Our Hero The Slime quickly becomes so overpowered there's no fear that he's going to get squished. Removes a bit of drama from things, y'know? Some may not find the humor all that funny... it isn't laugh-out-loud stuff for me, mostly just a small grin. It's not at all hard to see where it's going, at least in the macro.
On the plus side, the art is quite acceptable. While the story may be predictable in the macro, in the micro there's been a few very nice surprises. The worldbuilding has been top-notch; while it's a standard fantasy D&D-style land, the way magic works is fun. Our Hero is a likable fellow, unsurprisingly... we're supposed to identify with him, after all. Really, it's been a fun little ride thus far. If you're in the mood for something light, but not too fluffy, That Time I Was Reincarnated As A Slime will go a long way for you. The first two volumes are available where-ever books are sold, and the third volume comes out in a couple of weeks. It's a good read.
Doki Doki Literature Club
Yeah, I know. "Wonderduck, another dating sim?" Yep! And not only that, it's about as formulaic as they come! I mean take a look:
Left to right, you've got the tsundere, the shy bookworm, the genki childhood friend, and the school princess who's also the president of this little club. Of course, you're the only guy in sight. We've seen this anime, this manga, this visual novel, before, dozens of times really. These same characters too... oh, the character designs might be different, but really they're the same.
So why did this free game that's available on Steam hook me so darn hard that it got into my dreams? I want to make this clear: there are spoilers ahead. Not massive ones, but spoilers nevertheless. If you're curious about this, but you don't want spoilers, allow me to direct you to friend Ben's post over on the mysteriously named Midnite Tease. He's got the stuff.
And, if you want to go into it with as little information as possible, I salute you and don't even mind if you're not going to read the rest of this post. Here's some music for you.
Quite possibly the happiest, most bubbly tune ever... perfect for DDLC!
I Need A Nap Badly
So, in lieu of the latest entry in Operation RTPTIFG, I'm going to direct you to go read a post over at Midnight Teaseabout yuri manga. I echo most of what he says. And I'll just emphasize that Kase-san and... is good for what ails ya. It's all in the expressions.
These are two people who really and truly like each other and like being with each other. They act just like you'd expect people to act, more or less, and it's a joy to not have to deal with angst for once.
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Flying Witch: The Review
Simple, short review: Do you want to be happy? Then watch Flying Witch. It'll do the trick in no time flat.
Oh, you want more detail? Okay!
In this world, magical beings are a little uncommon but known of by the general public. They don't announce themselves as a rule, but it's not like they'd be persecuted if they did. It's just... easier, I suppose. Our main character Makoto is a trainee witch. Well, that's not quite accurate: she's recently turned 15, and according to the traditional ways of witching world, she has come of age and is supposed to be out on her own. Her parents, progressive in the magical community, instead send her off from their home in Yokohama to the city of Hirosaki near Aomori to live with family until she graduates high school, since being a witch "isn't exactly reliable these days." While she's there, she'll get to learn magic better. Hijinks ensue.
Except they don't, not really. Oh yes, it's that kind of show. If you think ARIA, but without all those pesky rowboats flitting about, you've got the idea of the sort of pace Flying Witch brings to the table. People do things, stuff happens, the odd semi-deity shows up, lets go get a donut. Makoto is just a little bit off from the "real world", not enough to be annoying,just... well, she's a witch and people are people and the two don't quite align perfectly. Don't worry too much about it, have some tea and admire the scenery.
In many ways, the city of Hirosaki and the surrounding area is a quiet member of the show's cast. It's the sort of place you can probably only find in certain locations in the world: it's an urban center of about 175,000 (which is roughly the same size as Duckford), but with a density of about 340 people per square km. Duckford's population density, by comparison, is nearly 900/km2. As such, Hirosaki is very much a city where if you go this way, you're heading into the city center and everything is compressed and... well, city-like. If you go that way, though, things get more and more rural until you aren't really in a city at all anymore. Go a little bit farther and you're in the woods.
Image is from the OP, but it shows what I mean perfectly. What all this means is that the series has the ability to position itself in any sort of scenery it needs at any time, and to look good doing it. Believe me when I say that it takes advantage of this every single episode.
So. We know Flying Witch looks nice, but a show like this doesn't work unless the characters and their interactions are outstanding. Does it measure up?
That sounds like a good show. I love when shows DON'T shoehorn in a bunch of unnecessary interpersonal drama, especially when the characters are supposed to know one another well. Can you imagine a sitcom where a husband and wife actually communicate with each other instead of constantly deceiving each other over the tiniest things? Yeah, me neither.
Will's been slowly introducing me to anime; I really liked Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (so much so that I actually wrote a tiny one-shot ficlet for it (but refused to let Will read it bc I was embarrassed)), Sword Art Online, and Banner/Crest of the Stars. I also liked Haibane Renmei. But I did not like Gurren Lagann...
Posted by: Mrs. Will at July 03, 2017 06:25 AM (JPRju)
OK, see when I was first taking a run at it, Flying Witch struck me as going to go in the ditzy-for-comedy-value thing full-force and it didn't make me want to continue.
Huh. Well, it's not like I'm really watching anything else at the moment...
Posted by: GreyDuck at July 03, 2017 07:56 AM (rKFiU)
I'll bite. I haven't found anything else the past year that I finished.
Mrs. Will: those are some fine choices. It's a shame we're likely to ever see the end of the Crest/Banner story. I have to admit I've never been able to figure out the target audience for Gurren Lagann. I've heard it gets quite absurd at the end, but I've never been able to make it that far. And that despite the show creating one of the most iconic character designs in anime/manga history.
David, I did watch Someday's Dreamers. They might seem superficially similar, but really there's not much of a comparison between the two. I'm also of the opinion that Flying Witch is a much better series... in that I really, really enjoyed FW, and the same could not be said for SD. Oh, I didn't object to the older series or anything like that, it just isn't as good.
Posted by: Wonderduck at July 03, 2017 07:49 PM (FssuW)
Yeah, I really loved it when it first came out. I think I wrote about it, but never posted any screenshots. Inukai was cute for a Furry, and you know me and white-haired tan girls....
But if I had to choose one word to describe Flying Witch it would be "Pleasant."
Posted by: Mauser at July 04, 2017 11:27 PM (TYvUn)
The Curse of Wonderduck's Taste is in full force here, unfortunately: I really didn't care for Flying Witch, but I loved Someday's Dreamers, especially the part of Angela. It was a stronger production in every conceivable respect, even in voice acting. Every time Kei opened his mouth, it was a torture. I lasted just long enough to see if Inukai would rescue that wreck, but of course it was a faint hope from the beginning. They could not even draw her in a convincing manner.
Regarding "a sitcom where a husband and wife actually communicate with each other", Danna ga Nani wo Itteru ka Wakaranai Ken is most excellent exactly because of that.
My views on Gurren-Lagann evolved over time. When I saw it initially, I didn't care for the post-timeskip part. But these days, it's all I rewatch. It reaches deep into the realm of Seven Samurai, Bridge over the River Kvai, Twelve O'Clock High. I think I only saw something like that in MS 08th Team in anime previously. But in the same time the sheer power of the post-timeskip destroyed the simple fun of the Simon The Digger growing up etc.
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at July 08, 2017 07:28 PM (pjL8P)
Funny, Pete... I've got a different name for it.
Posted by: Wonderduck at July 08, 2017 07:39 PM (2EECN)
Aria The Avvenire Ep03
"But Wonderduck," I hear you say and honestly I should get that looked at, "that came out in July of last year!" And you are absolutely correct, it certainly did, good on you! "No, that's not what I mean," you're saying crossly, "I mean 'why in the world are you only blogging about it now?'"
Oh, that's very simple. I only just watched it last night. Look, let me explain why I, as devoted a fan of the ARIA franchise as there is, didn't watch the last episode of the long-awaited special that was released with the new BD boxsets. I don't know if anybody else does this, but if I'm hotly anticipating something I often... wait on it. A new book I've been looking forward to for months? It's going to sit on the table for a few weeks. New episode of ARIA? Oh yeah, that's gonna wait. Part of it is anticipation: "I'm so excited about this that I don't want to lose that feeling!" Another part is fear: "Please please please let it be as good as I hope. If it's bad, it's going to feel awful!"
So I've been saving it for a dark and unhappy night. Last night, in the middle of a bout of self-loathing (I may be on happy pills, but they don't work miracles), I decided it was time. I settled into my chair, got as comfortable as my various injured body parts would let me, and pressed play.
Just from the first few minutes, I knew two things. First, oh god they got it right on the button. Second, I could see where this was going and I was going to be a sobbing mess by the time it was done. If you're a fan, you'll note the people in the picture above: three generations of undines (plus Grandma). The three newbies in the aprons, the main characters on the left, and the "old guard" on the right... except someone's missing.
Let me explain the title. In my mind, there are certain Anime Music Videos that capture the spirit of their subject so well that it becomes the (say it with me) definitive AMV for it. It could be a character study, or an overview of a particular series, or less often, the AMV is practically synonymous with a song.
To me, it feels like it's clear almost instantly that "this is it, this is the one!" It will come as no surprise to me if people disagree with my choices... I can't help what other people think, even if they're terribly terribly wrong... but that's the beauty of this sort of thing. If you and me think entirely alike, one of us is superfluous, right? Enough chatter! Let's get to watchin'!
You picked some good ones there. Engel and She's Just Oblivious are among my all time favourites as well as being definitive for their respective shows.
The other that springs immediately to mind is Hold Me Now for Princess Tutu. It's not technically astounding - it's ten years old after all - but it works remarkably well despite sounding nothing like the music from the series.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at May 17, 2017 08:36 AM (2yngH)
I've posted a lot of *good* AMVs, but only one really pops into my mind as being definitive along the lines that you're talking about here. She Bangs by Ricky Martin paired with footage of Lina Inverse from Slayers. I won't link the video, although you can find it on YouTube. It's not actually very good. But the idea is fantastic.
An early Nanoha AMV using Meatloaf's Modern Girl almost works well, but the ending of the song just doesn't fit Nanoha at all. It's great until then.
Yep, good picks here indeed. I actually went and picked up that "Sharada" song because I liked it in the MoSH AMV so much.
There's a good ErMaC video for Wings of HonnÃªamise set to Foo Fighters' "Next Year" that I think is as good a match-up for that film as you're going to find. (And yes, I still love the BT "Satellite" video more, but it's not the kind of "fit" you're talking about.)
I also offer up the great character-study (of sorts) AMV from the early, early days: Madonna's "Material Girl" set to Ranma 1/2, focusing on Nabiki Tendo. Pulling off halfway-decent lip-sync in those days, even.
Posted by: GreyDuck at May 17, 2017 07:46 PM (rKFiU)
Oh, just thought of another definitive one - All-Star for Irresponsible Captain Tylor.
That Material Girl one for Nabiki is great too. Best character in the show.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at May 17, 2017 08:08 PM (2yngH)
Man, 90's Anime has such a distinct look. Although I don't think I ever saw Irresponsible Captain Tyler.
Kinda want to now.
Posted by: Mauser at May 17, 2017 08:22 PM (5Ktpu)
Pixy, I considered putting Hold Me Now on the list, but there's one tiny problem with that...
I've never actually seen Princess Tutu in its entirety. I think I've seen the first six episodes.
I love the AMV though, and have the song on my mp3 player... it's always a treat when it pops up.
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 17, 2017 11:28 PM (KNafx)
You must watch the rest. It's the best anime of all time about a duck saving the world through the power of ballet.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at May 18, 2017 01:49 AM (2yngH)
Mauser, I highly recommend Tylor. It's ridiculous in a somewhat Nadesico kind of way but with a more satisfying story construction and conclusion.
(I was recently subjected to Nadesico for the first time. Boy howdy did that leave me cold.)
Posted by: GreyDuck at May 18, 2017 07:44 AM (rKFiU)
Of course, I've always wanted to do a video with Bagi to Devo's "Pink Pussycat"....
Posted by: Mauser at May 18, 2017 09:41 PM (m1WSx)
Nadesico is a weird, weird series. You have to stick with it for a few eps before it gets good, and then it keeps getting better for most of the series. I am more tolerant of the beginning during a rewatch.
I usually rewatch it when sick and stuck at home, along with Shingu.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at May 21, 2017 07:40 AM (S0Svy)
I slogged through the whole Nadesico thing, believe me. I kind of get why people love it! I do! It bounced off of me like a rubber ball off of steel plating, though. I know it's (generally) a comedy but when most of the lead characters can at best be described as "situationally intelligent" and our main POV character mainly gets by on "the power of yelling louder," it's a really hard sell.
Then we turned around and watched all of Mouretsu Pirates, from the same director (albeit much later in his career). I love that show. I suppose a Stellvia re-watch is in order to complete a trifecta of Tatsuo Sato shows...
Posted by: GreyDuck at May 21, 2017 03:17 PM (rKFiU)
Interview With A Vampire
Hopefully all of you regular (or irregular, I don't judge) anime viewers are watching the show of the season, Interviews With Monster Girls. It's light-hearted, with a surprising amount of depth to it as well. While I'm not a huge fan of the yuki onna (yet... she basically was just introduced in last week's Ep05), everybody else in the show is delightful. Even the normie teacher.
There is no doubt, however, that the true breakout star of the series is Hikari, the vampire. She's basically the most realistic high school girl I've ever seen in an anime series. I mean, other than the whole "vampire" thing, of course. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but not too terribly long after I returned from grad school in ignominious defeat, my old theatre teacher from high school called and hired me to do the lighting design for a play the theatre department at his new school was doing. He had a lot of expectations of this one, because it was being entered into the All-State Theatre Festival... there were something like 900 shows being considered, but only six would be chosen. The name of that play? Dracula. A fairly faithful retelling of the original vampire story, in fact. And o, did I go wild on that design! Easily the best of my 200+ lighting designs, in fact. Anyway, we did go downstate, where I got to take a custom light design run via computer and turn it into something using a generic light plot run via a manual control board. That only took four hours to do. I digress. They say that there isn't a competition between the "full-length feature presentations" at All-State; officially, they're right. Unofficially, however, that's a bunch of hooey and everybody attending knows it. I saw four of the five other plays downstate, and the fifth I saw when it ran here in Duckford at a private high school. Not only were we the best of the bunch, it wasn't even close. I'm honestly not bragging about that, it's just a simple fact. We had a good bunch of kids... which brings me back to my original point: Hikari reminds me of, like, three of my students rolled into one. Good kids, all of 'em. If you've been watching the show, you undoubtedly remember the laugh-out-loud moment from the most recent episode: when Hikari needs to chew on someone because "her teeth itch." Relative to that scene, I found this:
For everybody that ISN'T watching the show, hopefully that just convinced you to do so. You're seriously missing out.
Every time you think the show's about to cross a line too far, they turn it into something silly/adorable/fluffy. And then there was the "nom nom nom" bit taking it to a whole new unexpected level. Pure delight.
I'm enjoying Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. I'm ADORING Interviews with Monster Girls.
Posted by: GreyDuck at February 09, 2017 08:40 AM (rKFiU)
When I asked for recommendations for this season, this came up, and I've been enjoying it too.
Posted by: Mauser at February 09, 2017 08:37 PM (5Ktpu)
If they don't explain how succubus-sensei made it through high school, I'm going to be very put out.
Posted by: J Greely at February 09, 2017 09:12 PM (CLiR9)
J, what's more baffling is that she got herself a teaching degree...
(Honestly I'm glad that the "potentially sex-crazed" one is an actual adult character. That would've been way way too skeevy otherwise, and this show already dances along that line.)
Posted by: GreyDuck at February 10, 2017 08:35 AM (rKFiU)
J, I'm betting homeschooling. GD, night and online classes, maybe.
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 10, 2017 08:41 AM (UDOXQ)
I was half-kidding, because there are still single-sex junior and high schools in Japan, as well as women's colleges, and her powers apparently only affect men. It's the sort of fridge question that wouldn't really come up for the native audience, but that might get asked once the two grown-ups are a little more comfortable around each other (and, yes, I'm glad the succubus is not only an adult, but is not using her powers on schoolboys; we've got plenty of shows stuck in that "rut").
(homeschooling is mostly illegal, by the way, although a quick search suggests there's a small community of activists fighting for it)
Posted by: J Greely at February 10, 2017 12:05 PM (tgyIO)
I was a bit worried about where it was headed too, but heard from people who'd followed it in Japan that it actually backs away from that; no teacher/student predation (possibly excepting Hikari noms?)
Posted by: Avatar_exADV at February 10, 2017 11:59 PM (/lg1c)
The Winter Season Of My Discount Tent.
The long-standing rule of thumb is that the Winter season of an anime year is the weakest. Looking back through my January archives, I see that such shows as Vividred Operation and Rio Rainbow Gate! both aired in that month. With that sort of pedigree, it seems hard to argue anything but Winter being the weakest. However, there's always something to watch in every season, and this Winter is no different. In fact, I went into it interested in five series, and was ordered to watch a sixth. We're now three episodes into most shows and that means it's time to take a look at what hit with me, what missed, and what failed badly.
Well, rats. I was looking forward to Little Witch Academia. I'll likely give it a try anyway. Haven't watched anything yet this year. Well, except Nyanko Days.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 30, 2017 06:49 AM (2yngH)
I watched a few first-episodes mostly out of desperation and only liked two enough to even give them a second try:
I am enjoying Interviews far more than expected. It's adorable, it's heartfelt, and while occasionally it gets a bit pervy they usually walk it back nicely afterward, or at least lampshade it amusingly. (They're trying to have their cheesecake and eat it too, and SO FAR it's working... but they're walking a tightrope on that, especially considering this is a teacher and his students we're talking about.)
Kobayashi's Dragon Maid isn't quite as strong of a show but I kind of like the way it's settling into a kind of relaxed, low-key (mostly) slice-of-life domestic sitcom. There are little moments in between the bigger story bits which are great at changing up the mood, such as the brief "Kanna's nap" bit in the most recent ep. It's never going to be an anime classic but it's something to watch while we wait for springtime, anyway.
No action adventure, no epic stories, just a couple of light magical comedies. When's the next installment of Yona or Arslan...?
Posted by: GreyDuck at January 30, 2017 08:38 AM (rKFiU)
Pixy, understand that my view on LWA appears to be unique. Not one other blogger or commenter that I've seen seems to have noticed the ugliness.
Maybe I'm being oversensitive. But what can I say, I saw what I saw.
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 30, 2017 08:12 PM (UDOXQ)
I think I can remember seeing some kind of Teaser for LWA (was it for some kind of fundraiser?) but I didn't know there was a movie. I've gotten the first episode but not watched it yet.
I too am finding Interviews rather charming, although they've definitely downplayed the "Monster" angle of the girls, as compared to say, Everyday Life with Monster Girls. The dullahan is the only one with an unmistakable at a distance monster nature. But that's not to say it's watered down, it's just operating at a different level, rather the broad physical humor.
I'm pondering going back to some long unfinished series, like Robotics:Notes.
Posted by: Mauser at January 30, 2017 09:26 PM (5Ktpu)
Mauser, the LWA movie was partially funded via kickstarter. The OVA was done for Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs "Anime Mirai" festival.
The OVA is truly wonderful, even with the flaws I've mentioned.
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 30, 2017 10:04 PM (UDOXQ)
Your Weekly Asuka, S2E07
So we come to Asuka's most revealing episode yet. We finally discover exactly why she's so wistful about "wanting the summer to go on forever", why she's so adamant about getting the band to Nationals, and maybe... just a bit... about why she's so secretive all the time. However, sometimes the answers you get aren't the answers you want...
This look comes immediately after an announcement that the Club will be playing a concert at the local train station in about a week or so. Our Goofy Cute is definitely not reacting the way she should. A short time later, we find out why.
In the Teacher's Office, Asuka's mother is trying to get The Powers That Be to accept Asuka's resignation from the Club, so she can concentrate on college prep exams. Body language would seem to suggest that there's some disagreement on this matter. When Conductor-sempai says "nope, because it's not what Asuka wants, and you really should support her y'know..." it looks like the matter is over and done with. Until Mom says, quite calmly, "Asuka, tell the nice man you're leaving the club." It's with some surprise in her voice that Our Funny Obsession says that she doesn't want to quit.
And then her mother whups her upside de haid. It was at this point that I suddenly had an icy knot in my gut. Look, I know she isn't real. I know Asuka's just a secondary character in a cartoon. Not even ink on paper anymore, y'know? I know all this. But this show has done a helluva job making the watcher care about the cast of Hibike! Euphonium. Hats off to KyoAni for a job well done. It was also at this point that much of Asuka began to be explained. Why the desire for the endless summer (so she wouldn't have to quit). Why she was so desperate to get the band to Nationals (so she had a reason not to quit). And why she's so secretive about her real feelings (learned behavior, keeping her interest in band under cover from mom).
When a suddenly contrite mother attempts to apologize, Asuka simply turns to Conductor-sempai and says "I'm afraid I'm going to miss club today," takes her mother's hand, and walks away like nothing had happened. She's then missing from the Club for the next week (note: the original translation out there said it was a month. Within twelve hours of release, the length of time had changed to a week). Well, mostly missing.
She does make an appearance shortly after the slap, tells everybody not to worry, and then mostly disappears again... except for one conversation she has with the president of the club. Again, she says it's no big deal, but this time someone calls her on it. It's a lot more serious than she's letting on. She doesn't deny it, but also says she won't be causing problems. And then she's gone again until the day of the concert at the train station.
She's back and she's ready to play. But there's no explanation about how that happened, how things got worked out with her mother, nothing like that at all. This isn't over, and we're going to learn a lot more about Asuka pretty darn soon I'm thinking. Though after this episode, I'm no longer quite as enthused about seeing behind the curtain.
Your Weekly Asuka, S2E03 - E06
Yes, yes, the feature took a few weeks off. Between the Cubs and overtime at work, it's been hard enough to watch Hibike! Euphonium 2, let alone write about it. But this week was special, because we've finally gotten to see behind the curtain and find out what makes Our Goofy Cute tick... at least partially. More than we have before, and that's a good thing. Except... well, you'll see. But first, let's get caught up.
Episode 3 saw the band go to a training camp for a few days. Meanwhile, the controversy about the third-year who quit the band wanting to get back in swirls apace... and all of it swirls around Asuka. She's the one preventing it from happening for reasons she refuses to tell, other than it'd hurt the club. Just like in Season 1, she's the focal point of everything... without being the center of the show.
Ep04 brought around the resolution of the previous episode's drama, and Asuka's true reasons for her actions become apparent. One telling line from Our Silly Obsession was "I think people are fairly calculating in terms of their behavior." When the show's nominal lead comes right out and says Asuka's too cynical, we get another one of these shots:
...and her saying "Let's get to Nationals." In doing so, the lead begins to wonder (again) what the REAL Asuka thinks, as do we all. The look on The Goofy Cute's face as the scene comes to an end is not goofy at all, but... resigned, maybe.
Ep05 includes a rather emotionally charged speech from the Vice-President of the Band Club, where she comes out and says just how badly she wants to win this competition. She actually gets angry during it, which is new. Even as it's going on, it's clear that this isn't just another rah-rah-win-one-for-the-gipper speech for her, there's something more brewing behind it. And then KyoAni goes out and blows every production studio in Japan out of the water with the last eight minutes of the show. We finally get to hear the band's competition piece in its entirety... and KyoAni animates the entire thing, giving every member of the band some face time... and not a single word is said during that time. If you want to see the whole thing, you can watch it here... I'd recommend watching the whole episode though, simply because yootoob's compression does bad things to the video quality.
Ep06. It's festival time at school, so of course Asuka's in full Goofy mode as a fortune teller. After this, she disappears for the rest of the episode... or at least until the very end, where we find her alone in a classroom, practicing silently... while a woman with similar colored hair knocks on the door to the teacher's office.
The show is ostensibly about The Foursome, but clearly Asuka is the writers' favorite.
Posted by: GreyDuck at November 19, 2016 12:07 PM (rKFiU)
One of the things I loved about the whole concert piece was that the instrument sections were shown to be moving in sync, but not exactly in sync. I mean, it's a little thing, but it makes it look and feel more real.
Posted by: ReallyBored at November 21, 2016 02:37 PM (MmkR/)
Your Weekly Asuka, S2E02
This week, the second season of Hibike! Euphonium presents us with a staple of "group" shows: a training camp! The entire band will secrete themselves away for multiple days and do nothing but practice, practice, practice! Of course, it never works out that way: there's always downtime for hijinks to occur. But before that, there's a mandatory three-day break enforced by the school. Whatever will our main characters do during a short summer vacation? Why, go to the pool, of course! I have to admit, I didn't expect a swimsuit episode in this series, but hey, I'm not complaining.
No, not complaining in the least. Kumiko is, though... she has no idea who this strange girl that's molesting her is!
Oh. Now she knows. It's the Goofy Cute, in full effect! A nice lighthearted moment in an otherwise pretty serious episode. It's also practically the last time we see Asuka until very late in the episode. Which is amazing, because the episode from this point on spends its time describing the events of last year that saw most of the second-year club members quit, and Asuka's role therein.
In other words, it's yet another episode where she's the main character mostly without showing up. Yet, despite all of this, we still don't really know why she's so opposed to letting that one second-now-third-year student rejoin the club. The good news is that it seems we'll be getting that info in the next episode.
While this is all well and good, I'm still looking forward to THE Asuka Episode. It's gotta be coming. KyoAni can't be setting all this up just to ignore the payoff, right?
Posted by: Wonderduck at October 19, 2016 07:53 AM (vZvpB)
I have (possibly) a slightly different take on that, GreyDuck. There is a level of autism (and of course we know that autism has a much wider spectrum and is much more prevalent that we once believed...although this could also be a facet of giving names to things that don't really need names, as well...) that actually describes Kumiko's behavior. She exhibit's a level of obliviousness to the surrounding world, due either to lack of interest or intense focus on only the things that interest her...but regarding the things that interest her she is clearly engaged, knowledgeable and insightful.
Of course, this is based on the first season and the first episode...I haven't caught up to the latest, yet. Maybe there are new revelations. But that's how I've viewed her, so far.
Posted by: Ben at October 19, 2016 09:24 AM (S4UJw)
Your Weekly Asuka, S2E01
Wonder of wonders, Hibike! Euphonium is back for a very welcome second season. Not only is it back, but Kyoto Animation has blessed us with an hour-long first episode to boot. Pleasantly, the raison d'Ãªtre of this feature, Asuka Tanaka, aka The Goofy Cute, is... well, not featured exactly, but she's quite involved with the first half of the episode.
What we get from her is like "Asuka's Greatest Hits", ranging from the Goofy to the master deflector, able to pass the buck on anything she doesn't want to deal with, to something of a new aspect: the cold-blooded assassin.
She actually does the cat-smile thing at one point, which was a little freaky I gotta admit. She's also not above some cheek-pulling. I don't remember either occurring during the first season, so there's that going on.
But its when one of the 2nd year students that quit the club last year asks for her blessing to rejoin that Dark Asuka pops up. Not without a fight, however: she does everything she can to avoid the issue. It's only the persistence of the other student that brings out Dark Asuka. Her blessing? Nope. "I don't approve. You wouldn't benefit the club." All the while with a dead, dead look on her face.
It is telling, I believe, that the 2nd year student came right to Asuka first, rather than the club president. I mean, we already know she's the power behind the throne and all, but still. It's clear this is going to be the the season's first arc, which means plenty of Asuka. This is nothing but a good thing in my mind, because we need to know more about her.
"We"... "I"... whichever.
A word about this episode in general. KyoAni pulled out all the stops with this one, particularly during the festival scene. Holy crepe, did they go all out.
The festival is a riot of colors and hundreds of people, most of them animated, and all of it lighted by lanterns and fireworks. It's very nearly movie quality at times.
We even get an Asuka sighting. Alone and away from the festival.
If you were wondering if Season 2 was going to measure up to Season 1, wonder no longer. If it's anything like this episode, or even in the same area code, it's gonna be a fantastic three months.
Instant favorite thing about Autumn 2016. And I knew you were going to be delighted with the amount (and range) of Asuka on display!
(I watched the "extra" episode from the first season, that I'd missed previously, going into the first double-ep of season two, so I got pretty much a movie's worth of H!E in one sitting. Best thing about my entire week.)
Posted by: GreyDuck at October 12, 2016 07:29 AM (rKFiU)
I WILL have something to watch in the Fall season! WOOHOO!
Posted by: GreyDuck at September 16, 2016 07:27 AM (rKFiU)
Sigh. There's a manga called Choir!, but no choir anime. Lots of singing groups and characters who are in choirs, but no choir animes per se.
Oh, I just ran across the factoid that ordinary broadleaf plantain (plantago maior) has this stuff in it called aucubin which makes the kidneys pee out more uric acid, so they think it could be helpful for gout sufferers to eat plantain salads (the tiny young leaves) or plantain as a boiled vegetable/soup (the big old leaves).
Medieval medical texts sometimes recommended this, but they also recommended applying it externally to the foot. (Which pretty much wouldn't work. Although plantain does work well as external wound treatment or helping the normal sort of blistered feet, if you're stuck in a medieval world. So you can see why they got the idea.)
Anyway, if they aren't spraying weeds where you are or you have a meadow nearby, at least it's a cheap sort of experiment. Can't get much cheaper than free plantain weeds.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at September 16, 2016 08:00 AM (S0Svy)
"2"?? Is this some new kind of sequel notation I've never seen before? What happened to ' or '' or Z, ZZ and X? I don't get it....
Posted by: Mauser at September 17, 2016 07:11 AM (FZlSR)
Revisiting A Figure
Nearly four years ago now, friend Ben from the curiously named Midnight Teaseremoved a blight from his figure collection sent a thoughtful gift here to The Pond. Of course, I immediately took photographs... but even as I posted them, I was less than satisfied with the results. Everything was either too dark or too bright, and Rio deserved better, darnit. Well, over at the Anime Figures Subreddit, they run a bi-weekly photography contest and this time around the theme is "Smallest Figure". There's plenty of ways to interpret that, of course, but I went literal... it'd give me a chance to fix one of the Rio shots! Here's the result:
click the pic for larger MVCD.
Y'know what helps? Having a camera that can keep up with what your mind sees. That really makes a difference. There's some saturation boost, and a "vignette" effect that you would have thought was just lighting if I didn't mention it, but otherwise, that's the picture the way it came off the SD card.
The Perfect Magical Girl Candidate
Over at Steven's place, that worthy is asking "where do magical girls come from." In recent times, a number of them, he points out, have spun off of... let's call them normal... series to become immensely popular in their own right. An example of this is the genre-defining Nanoha Takamachi, one-time 12 year old minor character in a dating sim who wound up being spun off into her own series: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. A total of four series, two movies, untold manga and figures later, very few people indeed can claim to have even heard of the game she first came from, Triangle Hearts.
Befriending the hell outta people since 2004.
But Steven goes beyond just naming past characters. Indeed, he goes ahead and lays out a set of rules for finding potential future magical girls. The rules are:
1. The character is a girl, ideally young but not necessarily so, and she
doesn't have a spectacular figure (yet).
2. She isn't the main character of the series she's in. Ideally she's a minor
character who doesn't make all that much of a difference.
3. The series she is in isn't about magic and she herself doesn't have any
He then names a few himself. In his comment section, readers suggest a few more. Ah, but I, Wonderduck, have the perfect candidate, one that ought to have happened already, as the parent show has seven omakes and they had plenty of time of work it in. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present to you...
Magical Girl Kohaku! Let's take a look at how she fits the rules. Clearly, she's young. She's not the main character of the series she's in... in fact, she's the younger sister of a secondary character in her series and has a total screen time of less than two minutes. Total words spoken: eight (...in English, anyway. I counted!). The series she's in,Hibiki! Euphonium, has nothing to do with magic in any way. She does have one power, however:
The Power of Cute! Really, she's perfect for the role of magical girl. We all need Magical Girl Kohaku in our lives, the sooner the better. She will save us from the darkness that is our daily lives, spreading the joy and happiness that only a magical girl can generate throughout our drab existences. And we will like it!