August 12, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #132: That Was Surprising

-New Game!, Ep02
We've all had one of those series... you expect nothing from it, and you get pleasantly surprised.  Well, New Game! is one of those.  "New girl starts working at small video game company, hijinks ensue" is not exactly either the most original concept, nor the most promising.  Yet for whatever reason, there's actually something good coming out of this.

The animation is nothing overly special, true, we've met all these characters before in dozens of other shows (not literally, but you know what I mean), and the plot is "main character perseveres and gets stronger".  It may be "New Game!" but it's really "Old Retread."  And yet, I'm amazed to discover that I LIKE this show... a lot.

It's got just the right balance of seriousness to humor (maybe 1:50, but it's there), and as of episode five there's not even a hint of acrimony between any of the characters.  These people are likable goofballs that are also professionals, putting in a ton of work and effort into making the newest entry in a video game series.  While we're not exactly witnessing people coding and boring stuff like that, we do get to peek behind the curtain, so to speak.  I'm sure it's dumbed down and not really like what we're seeing... it's anime, after all... but it's being handled better than anybody could have really expected.

That is not how you sword. 
The purple-haired one is the main character, and honestly she's kinda the worst part of the series.  She falls into the "earnest try-hard" camp, and is kind of annoying at times, at least to me.  Fortunately, she's surrounded by other, more interesting, characters at all times.

Let's see... from left to right we've got: Quiet Geek, Earnest Try-Hard, Clothes Horse, Genki Girl (all four of whom work in the same pod), The Legend (she's the original character creator for the video game series), and The Level-Headed One (the Art Director for the game).  The first three are artists for the game, Genki does motion work, and the other two... well, their jobs are obvious enough.  The two older women actually have depth to their characters, too.  The other four, eh, not so much.

There hasn't been any laugh-out-loud moments as of yet, but a good smile or chuckle is common enough.  None of this should be taken as me saying that this is a GOOD series that I wholeheartedly recommend, just an entertaining one.  Sometimes, that's enough.

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August 05, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #131: Hi! My Name Is...

Makoto Shinkai.  It wouldn't be overly controversial to say that he's the best known anime movie director not named "Miyazaki" today.  His films have all been successful, thought-provoking, and a little sad.  To a certain subset of people, though, the wild popularity is a little confusing.  His films have all been good, but have left me a little cold.  It may be a cultural thing, I don't know.  Except for "She and her Cat," that one worked with  me on almost every level.  One thing nobody will debate is that, going all the way back to his earliest works, Shinkai's films have been beautiful.


His newest film, Your Name (Kimi no na wa), pushes the bar even higher.  It's absolutely the best looking piece of animation of any type that I've ever seen.  I'm sure a lot of it has to do with progress in the use of CG, but my lord it's beautiful.

Even something as simple as a sliding door and the border of a tatami mat is given the full treatment... a simple, throwaway shot that lasts a second looks better than anything that's come before it.

And the story.  The story.  Holy crepe on a stick... but no matter how good it is, if you don't like the characters, the story doesn't work.  And, unlike the way Shinkai's earlier films sat with me, Your Name hits just all the right notes.  

I refuse to say any spoilers, not even about the plot.  If you haven't seen it already, go watch it immediately... and go in blind.  I intentionally avoided reviews and comment threads about it, and I'm very glad I did.  And you will be, too.

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July 18, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #130: From The Screen To The Page...

-Hibike! Euphonium the Movie
The good folks over at Yen Press recently released the original light novel for Hibike! Euphonium, translated of course.  Since that was probably my favorite anime series in years, of course I eagerly picked it up... I wanted to see how it differed and how it stayed the same from the material I knew.  And the result?

It's not as good as the anime.  And no, I'm sure there isn't any "first come first served" bias going on here... KyoAni just did a better job with the source material than the source material did.  For example, let's use what I think was the best sequence from the anime, the mountain scene with Kumiko and Reina.  Much of the dialogue is the same, and a lot of the details as well (Reina's white dress, or her ankles getting rubbed raw).  However, in the novel they don't take their instruments and thus the duet on the mountaintop doesn't occur.  That simply amazed me.  In another big difference, the "secondary leads," Hazuki and Sapphire, get almost no character development.  Also, and most painful to yours truly, Asuka's personality is more obviously a facade and her nasty side is more evident.  The wacky part of her that made her an instant fan favorite is almost totally missing. 

But the obvious difference is the music.  For a story about a concert band, there's a total lack of music involved with the book.  Which is natural of course... a book is words on paper, and the author isn't talented enough to overcome that handicap in comparison to the anime.  Please understand, the book is still quite entertaining and well worth the small amount of time it'll take you to read it. 

But you'll be hearing the music from the series in your head when you do.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:18 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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June 25, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #129: While We're Waiting...

Over at Reddit today, I was involved in a little slice of funny.  The Original Poster (OP) put up a very cute picture of a sugar glider in a box of fruit snacks.  Of course, this being Reddit we're talking about here, someone berated OP for being "cruel to this rodent" for the sake of electronic approval points.  Which is where I came in:


OP: "This isn't a rodent it's a sugar glider which is a marsupial. Also it's a joke people!" 

ME:

-Rio Rainbow Gate, Ep07
Today... today was a good day.

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May 21, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 128: Ridiculous School Outfit

Even from a medium where over-the-top school uniforms are the norm, this has got to take the cake:

-Roku de Nashi Majutsu Kōshi to Akashic Records, Ep01

Seriously?  Come on, Japan... really?  The best and oldest magic academy in the most powerful country in the world, magically, and they dress their female students in that?  Forget about the practicality or lack thereof of a uniform like that, how in the world could the school expect the male students to concentrate?

Unlikely uniforms aside, there's not much new to this show.  Which doesn't mean it's not entertaining, because I'm enjoying it a lot.  It's just that we've seen it before.  It's a relatively pretty series when it gets the chance to be, but again, nothing earth-shattering.  It's one of those titles that will be forgotten shortly after the last episode airs.  It will serve its purpose, selling light novels, and that's all it'll be.  There's no shame in not being an awesome, awe-inspiring, game-changing series... most of them aren't.  Still, I like it.

I'm not sure why.  I'll have to keep watching to figure it out.

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March 05, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 127: Just For The Record


-Interviews With Monster Girls, Ep09

Still the best thing airing this season, and an early contender for Anime of the Year.  It has yet to put a single foot wrong, and I can't imagine how it would given where the story stands.  Just a marvelously fun series.

And when the character I expected to be the weakest of the bunch is the one that's quickly becoming the MVP?   That's just a bonus.  Really, you need to be watching this.

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February 11, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 126: Cheesecake Too!


-Hatsukoi Limited, ED
There are days when you plan and scheme and get everything you need to accomplish done.  And then there are days like today, where I got nothing done at all except sleep, and not even much of that.  The plan was to finish up the requested "Why A Duck?" post.  Instead, I did bupkis, and you get this post.

I mean, there are worse things that could have happened, I suppose.  It's just not what the plan was.  A lot of that going around, I think.

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February 01, 2017

Random Anime Picture #125: Cheesecake!


-Seiren, Ep02 ED
Why?  What, when did I start needing a reason to post cheesecake?

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September 22, 2016

Random Anime Picture #124: Reflections


-ARIA the Natural, Ep12
On the whole, today had to be listed in the "horrible" category.  But it's amazing how just one episode of ARIA is enough to take the edge off.  It didn't fix anything, it doesn't make things better... but it was enough to remind me that things aren't totally terrible.  And I guess that's enough, isn't it?

Akari Mizunashi, mad scientist.

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September 08, 2016

Random Anime Picture #123: Obsolete


-ReLife, Ep06
The year was 1994 and Our Hero was working at the Big Blue Electronics Retailer in the music department.  One day, the department head asked if I'd like to spend a day in Chicago with her at a training day.  Well, heck, why not?  I'll get paid for it after all, and probably get a lunch out of the deal to boot.  As we drove in the next day, I asked what the training was on.  "Sony is releasing something new that we're going to be carrying.  Some new music format."  Oh swell, another one.  I quickly changed my tune when the training started, for the format we were talking about was the MiniDisc.

I instantly fell in love with the beast.  Magneto-optical data storage, anywhere from 74 to 80 minutes of re-recordable digital-quality music?  Be still my beating heart!  The more I heard, the more I liked it, and I learned everything there was to know about them that day.  They were, to me, flawless.  Except for a few tiny little problems.  And by "tiny little", I mean "gargantuan monster".

The first was the price.  There were two player/recorders available, one home-based, the other portable, and both were ridiculously expensive.  I mean, when you could buy three or four CD players for the same cost as the home unit, you know there's a problem.  The second was the size.  The home unit was normal, well able to fit in a home stereo system, but the portable?  It was very heavy, to the point that most of the people that bought them just used them at home because... well, it wasn't going to threaten the walkman/discman for portability, y'know?  The final and quite possibly worst problem was available media.  Only a few record labels were supporting the format; when we received our first shipment of pre-recorded MDs, they took up maybe two feet of display space... and that was a sizable percentage of all the MDs ever released.  Meanwhile, CDs and cassettes took up dozens upon dozens of yards of space, with music of any sort you'd care to think of.  Audiophiles loved the thing, though.  We had one guy who bought just about every classical MD we carried, and more besides, for example.  Here's the thing: he was pretty much the only customer we had for the thing.  And at that, we were still one of the top-selling MD stores in the central region of the country.

Eventually we stopped carrying MiniDiscs.  Sadly, it wasn't until the new century that the format started to get attention... just in time for MP3 players and the new thing called the iPod to appear on the market.  Still, Sony kept supporting the thing until 2011, when they finally stopped selling it altogether.  It's still a brilliant piece of kit, though... I wish I had one.  Alas, while that training class did give away a few portable units, I didn't get one.  I still have the Sony messenger bag, though!  Yes, 22 years later, it found a new life... as a case for my laptop. 

Yes, if there was ever a piece of equipment that was just flat-out unlucky, it was the MiniDisc.  Sadly.

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August 18, 2016

Random Anime Picture #122: This Is Fine, Too.


-Re:Zero, Ep06

Why am I watching Re:Zero?  Sure, the plot is intriguing, the hero is actually coping with his predicament, what we know of the world is solid enough, and the surrounding characters range from "that's a thing" to "top knotch."

But let's face it: the twin maids Rem and Ram should be arrested for grand theft, for they've bloody well stolen the show for me, for reasons that should be obvious.  Does that make me shallow?  I can't claim to care.

Because, I mean, damn.

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August 11, 2016

Random Anime Picture #121: It's A Cat. No, Seriously.


-Amanchu, Ep03
I've come to the conclusion that, despite all the talent and skill she has at drawing everything else ever,  Kozue Amano simply cannot draw a cat to save her life.  Well, that's okay.  She gave us ARIA, so she gets a huge free pass in my book.

Really.  It's a cat.

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July 14, 2016

Random Anime Picture #120: Pbpbpbppbpbpbpbpbpbttttthhhhhhhhhh!


-ReLife, Ep06
Review inbound once I finish the series, but initial reaction is "I did not expect this to be that good."  Because I did not expect ReLife to be this good at all.

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July 12, 2016

Random Anime Picture #119: Dark Mistress Of The Kitchen


-Shokugeki no Soma, S2E02
The second season of everybody's favorite semi-orgasmic fighting anime based on Iron Chef is in full swing, and while the hat-tip to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure may not have been to everybody's tastes (like mine), it's hard to deny the appeal of Mirror Universe Megumi.  Seriously, I hate this art style:

Ew.
We saw Delinquent Megumi briefly in S1, though to be honest I don't remember the context, but I DO remember both laughing and being intrigued by this less-than-wholesome version of our favorite co-main character.  And by "intrigued," I mean "grr stampa-stampa!"

I repeat: grr stampa-stampa!
All of which is to say, yup, nothing has changed from last season.  If you watched the first season of SnS and liked it, you've got no reason to avoid this one.  However, if you didn't like SnS, there's probably something wrong with you and you should get that looked at by a doctor... but you'll continue to not like this season.  Though you'll dislike it half as much, since reportedly there's only going to be 12 episodes this time around.

But how could you dislike this?  You'd just be evil and cruel.  Remember: she even has a rubber duckie.

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May 22, 2016

Random Anime Picture #118: Quick, Henry, the Flit!


-Strike Witches: Victory Arrow, OVA#03
I don't know when or where I first heard of Flit.  I assume it was in The Calculus Affair, one of the best Tintin stories around.  I wouldn't have known what it was, y'know, but I would have instinctively accepted it and moved on.  "Spray Flit, bugs die."  The perfect example of this unswerving acceptance of anything Tintin said as true was in... um... The Red Sea Sharks, I think.  At one point, Tintin describes a fighter plane as a "Mosquito."  I just assumed that was a nickname for all fighter planes (I was very young when I learned to read using Tintin...).

As it turned out, Tintin was referring to a very particular aircraft, the DeHavilland Mosquito, but I didn't know that.  To this day, I still think of fighter planes as "mosquitoes", though only to myself. 

FLIT!  Right, right.  Back to that.  I didn't really know what Flit was, just that it killed bugs.  That sprayer ("a flit gun") though... that's iconic.  I wonder what Tintin would think of Strike Witches?   And suddenly I feel this desperate need for a crossover...

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May 13, 2016

Random Anime Picture #117: Skydiving


-ARIA the Avvenire OVA 2
Man, reentry when you're wearing a full-length dress has got to be an iron-clad beeyotch, that's all I've gotta say.

Akari's unfortunate experience with lithobraking had some serious consequences for Aqua.  Nuclear winter just can't compare to the horror that is Undine Winter.  Mars will never be the same... again.

Okay, yes, I'm joking.  It's ARIA, you think something bad happened?  There were three series, an OVA, multiple picture dramas, the manga, and of course the Avvenire, and I can't think of a single negative thing that occurred in any of them.  When the closest I can come is the retirement of Aria Company's original Black Gondola, you know it's a cheerful series.  Unless you count my picture of Grandma as a retired Kancolle shipgirl, that is.

Just go watch.  If you're a fan of ARIA, you've already seen it, of course, but watch it again.  It's worth it, if only for the effort the animators put into Akari's long plummet.

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April 25, 2016

Random Anime Picture #116: The End Of Cinderella Girls

I did not expect them to be eaten by mini-Godzilla.

-iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, Ep04

I am of the opinion that I'm missing something with this show, perhaps even more than with the original Idolmaster series.  Kinda like how Kantai Collection is filled with references that only make sense if you've played the game, I'm guessing that I'm only getting half the story here.  Maybe someone who's actually played it can pipe up... I think I remember seeing that The Man Called Author played it... and tell me if that's really the case. 

Maybe he can also explain why Anastasia isn't the main character in the show.

Because, ye gods and little fishies, she's certainly my most popular.  She's no Chihaya, of whom I even have a figma, but she ain't far behind.

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April 20, 2016

Random Anime Picture #115: Oh Dear


-Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls, Ep02

I've always had a weird thing with the iDOLM@STER franchise.  I don't dislike it, but I've never been particularly impressed by any of the shows I've seen... or any of the "idol builder"-based shows, really.  Then again I've also never played the games, but from what I've seen/read about them, I could see myself getting caught up in the whole rigamarole.

One thing I appreciate about the shows are the way they get the "backstage" parts right.  Performers, particularly first-timers, get the jitters while the tech crew goes about their jobs with a staid professionalism, unnoticed and only rarely appreciated.  Not that I'm bitter or anything about that detail.

Maybe it'll keep my interest.  Maybe not.  We'll see.

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March 25, 2016

Random Anime Picture #114: Bleeeeeeeeeh!


-Konosuba, Ep03

So over at Ubu's place, and might I say that it's mighty good to see him blogginatin' with some frequency again, he was talking about this oddball show called, and I quote, "Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!"

As that's quite the mouthful, some bright spark shortened it to "Konosuba" and we'll leave it at that.  Anyway, it's a sendup of the old "dead useless guy is brought back to life in another world to save it from The Evil" plot.  In this case, dead useless guy is still useless, and the harem party he forms around him are ridiculously powerful... and totally useless.

Like the paladin Crusader that's so clumsy that she literally cannot hit anything offensively.  She does, however make a great wall.  Good thing she's a masochist.  Or the wizard who is strong enough to cast the most powerful offensive spell, "Explosion."  Except when she does, it uses all of her power for the entire day... can't even stand up afterwards.  Oh, did I mention that it's the only spell she knows?  Terrible against a single enemy... not bad against hordes of flying cabbages, however.

Why would you think I'd joke about something like that?

Then there's the Goddess.  I mean that literally: she's an actual Goddess.  She's great at using holy water for healing purposes, and for being eaten by giant toads, but otherwise?  Dumb as a box of hair, and totally incompetent.

Then there's the lass up at the top of this post, Chris the Thief.  She actually appears to be useful.  We meet her at the beginning of Ep03, then the flying cabbages come and she disappears.  Totally gone, and nobody seems to notice or care. 

It's managed to keep my attention through three episodes... so there's that, I suppose.  It's not high art, but it's okay.

Yes, praising with faint damns, I know.

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March 13, 2016

Random Anime Picture #114: Forgotten, Or Outgrown?


-Love Hina, Ep01

So what happened to Love Hina, anyway?  It went from ridiculously popular to viewed with some vague distaste by a large segment of the community, on those rare occasions its mentioned at all.  Heck, it was even one of the first series available via digital fansub.

It's goofy, it's fun, it's got plenty of fanservice, but at its core its a romance between two people that are perfect for each other, but can't quite admit it to themselves yet.  While I think the manga is better than the anime, I enjoy them both.

So why the dislike for the series?  Is it the violence perpetrated upon the main character?  Do people think the animation hasn't aged well?  Or is it just too goofy anymore?  It's a classic series, though nobody will put it on any best-of-all-time lists.  It's a heckuva romp, though.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:04 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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