February 08, 2016

Random Anime Picture #110: Reluctance


-ARIA the Avvenire, Ep01
I'm finding myself reluctant to write the review of the first of three new ARIA episodes.  Not because I don't want to, but because of how much I love the series.  Watching this special episode, particularly after years of thinking I'd never get to spend more time with these characters, was an intensely personal experience.  Don't worry, I will do it, I'm just trying to figure out how to make it feel right without gushing.

If you're a fan of ARIA, you should have watched it by now.  If you've never seen the franchise, this is a good time to start watching.  If you're NOT a fan of ARIA... well... um...

I welcome all sorts of people to The Pond.  Some of my best friends don't like Azumanga Daioh, for example.  I'd like to think I'm open-minded enough that I could get along with someone who doesn't like calm, peaceful stories about female gondolieri on Mars. 

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February 06, 2016

Random Anime Picture #109: Yup, That's Awesome

What's more dangerous than a bunch of dark elves armed with longbows?

-GATE, Ep 17
Dark elves armed with IHI Aerospace Panzerfaust 3-IT anti-tank rockets!!! 

And what's more dangerous than dark elves armed wiht IHI Aerospace Panzerfaust 3-IT anti-tank rockets?

Humans flying the F-4EJ-Kai using AIM-9M or -9P Sidewinder heatseeking missiles against dragons, that's what! 

And what's more dangerous than humans flying the F-4EJ-Kai using AIM-9M or -9P Sidewinder heatseeking missiles against dragons?

Humans using a battery of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Type 75 155mm self-propelled howitzers against grounded dragons, that's what!

I'll tell you, I was just giggling with amusement during the final battle in this episode of Gate.  It was great!

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January 17, 2016

Random Anime Picture #108: (happy sigh)


-ARIA the Avvenire, Ep01
Don't worry, there's a review coming.

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December 30, 2015

Random Anime Picture #107: Country Cooking


-Shokugeki no Soma, Ep20

After having finished the first series of SnS (the second is airing Summer of 2016), I get the distinct impression that some part of the production staff really wanted to make Shokugeki no Megumi instead.  On the whole, she's a much more interesting character than the lead is, that's for sure.  The titular character is a wizard in the kitchen, able to do just about anything, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes having to work at it.  But it's a fait accompli that he will wind up reaching his ultimate goal: it's that sort of show, after all, and he's the lead!  I find it amusing that he's actually lost substantially more head-to-head cooking battles than he's won thus far.  Even in defeat, he's gained the people's ovation and his opponent's respect and won over the judges to boot. 

But then there's Megumi.  She's literally a hick from a fishing village, attending an elite (some would say THE elite) culinary academy in the world.  Prior to the main character meeting her, she was on the verge of being kicked out in disgrace.  After a couple of pep talks, though, she gained confidence in her abilities and has been surprising people left and right.  To be blunt, she's a lot more interesting than Soma.  I suspect that it's no coincidence that at the end of Series 1, she advances in the big tournament... on the other side of the bracket from Soma.

She's also cute as a button and owns a rubber duck.  That's gotta count for something!

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December 17, 2015

Random Anime Picture #106: Cheesecake


-Shokugeki no Soma, Ep17

For a show that I only began watching to see if there were more rubber ducks involved, I'm pleasantly surprised to admit that Shokugeki no Soma is really quite good!  Cross a fighting anime with Iron Chef and you've got the basic idea behind the show.

Just... don't watch the show when you're hungry.  Or on a diet.  Swear to god, you gain weight just watching the dishes they prepare.  Best of all, none of them are stupid: you could "easily" make them yourself.  Heck, many of the recipes were included in the manga!

There are other reasons to watch, too.

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November 17, 2015

Random Anime Picture #105: Such A Day


-Hibike! Euphonium Special, Ep05

Frustration abounds.  I can't get a grip on blogging for length right now for whatever reason, despite having two projects I want... need... to finish.  Meanwhile, it feels like The Pond is stagnant, like a tiny Minnesota lake filled with muddy water and ice fishing equipment. 

I hate this.

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November 04, 2015

Random Anime Picture #104: A Different Gate


-GATE, Ep03
There's an awful lot to like about last season's GATE... I mean, who doesn't like the idea of fighting dragons with attack helicopters, or taking on an army of orcs with a swath of .50cal machineguns?... but to my mind Rory Mercury, demigod and Oracle of Death, heads the list.

Just don't get on her bad side.  Or be nearby when she gets hungry.

I want a crossover with Rio: Rainbow Gate! now... call it Rio: Rainbow GATE.  Oh, the joy I would feel seeing Rory Mercury let loose on Casino Island, or the JSDF shooting down Sky Resort with a few F-4 Phantoms.  This needs to happen.

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October 06, 2015

Random Anime Picture #103: Peaceful


-YKK OVA #1, Ep02

Because sometimes, you just need some Alpha to make the day right.

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October 03, 2015

Random Anime Picture #102: Gurk!


-Gakkou Gurashi, Ep03

I hope to have the two-episode writeup completed tonight, probably late enough to be considered "tomorrow".  The Ep04 portion has been done for a few days, and I've been making my way through Ep05 in my copious free time.  But for sure tonight!  I hope.

UPDATE 1240a, 10/4/2015:  Those of you with "ha ha ha never gonna happen" in the betting pool, make sure to pick up your winnings.  The siren's call of sleepytime was too strong and a "short nap" became a "long nap", then an even longer one.  The upshot is that the writeup will be up Sunday sometime as opposed to, oh, right about now.  Sorry 'bout that.

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September 16, 2015

Random Anime Picture #101: Surprise!


-Inu X Boku SS, Ep02

Well, yeah, duh, of course.  Why not?

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August 10, 2015

Random Anime Picture #100: Wha?


-Bubblegum Crisis 2040, Ep08

I may have been the only person who actually liked BGC2040 more than the original.  Actually, I may have been the only person who actually liked BGC2040, period.  That's okay, I can live with that.  It's an exciting show, and the music is top-notch stuff if you like electro-industrial-post-punk-ishly.  Which, as it turns out, I do.  The animation still holds up too, despite being nearly 20 years old.  And the character designs are a helluva lot nicer than the semigeneric '80s stylings of the original.

But maybe that's just me.

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July 28, 2015

Random Anime Picture #99: Carnivale?


-Mnemosyne, Ep04
The day started out well enough.  Got to the office, had a nice pull on the whiskey bottle, patted the dog, molested the co-workers, y'know, the usual.  Then the mysterious armed men swung in through the window via helicopter zip-line, giving us just enough time to escape.  They shot the dog, though.  Then while we were making our escape in some french-looking peoplecarrier, a bunch of armored cars blocked our way.  They took one of my co-workers hostage, flew him away in a chopper.  Then they herded me and the other co-worker into the backseat of our car, shot us a dozen times each, chucked in a grenade for good measure, and drove away.

We got better. 

These were the only clothes we could find... why are you laughing?  Then I got sucked into a jet engine and turned into a fine red spray.

I got better.

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July 24, 2015

Random Anime Picture #98: Big Guns


I forgot how much I enjoyed Mutsu's smile.

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May 07, 2015

Random Anime Picture #97: Transcribing


-Hibike!  Euphonium, Ep05

Meet Yoriko.  A third-year student at Kitauji High School, she is the librarian for the band club.  As such, she is in charge of marking changes in the sheet music for individual performers, correcting errors, which means she's supposed to work closely with the director.  At least, that's the way it works for professional ensemble librarians.  I assume that her position has at least some passing resemblance to those requirements.

She's playing the piccolo here, but she's been seen practicing with a flute as well.  She has had one line in the show to date, during Ep02: "When you switch from C to D...".  In that one line, she is soft-spoken.  In short, she's what I would usually call a "Skippy" in a writeup if she was important enough to have a scene devoted to her.  Since she hasn't been, she is, instead, a step down from a Skippy, a J Random Student.  She's got a name, but she's still a J Random.

Coincidentally she is also very tall, with only three male members of the band having inches on her.  She's just another J Random, "third-spearcarrier-from-the-left" type. 

Yet, in the perhaps twenty seconds of screentime she's had in five episodes of Hibike!  Euphonium, most of which in an group of people (the picture of her doing the librarian stuff is the only time she's solo onscreen, and that's for perhaps two seconds) KyoAni has managed to work in a surprising amount of characterization and background.  After all, she's a tall, soft-spoken, bookish type with a passion for music (note that she's the only one with her eyes closed in the ensemble picture!) and an eye for detail.  It's amazing what you notice when you look for stuff.  This whole character profile began simply because I liked the picture of her sitting at the desk, transcribing music.  J Random Student?  Skippy? 

Or Yoriko Saika, character.  I wonder what her story is?

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April 18, 2015

Random Anime Picture #96: Flying Phoenix


-The Wind Rises
Because we all need more Hosho in our lives.

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April 14, 2015

Random Anime Picture #96: ... And Taxes


pbbbpbpbbpbbpbpbpbpbpbbppbpbpbthhhhhhhhh.
-Hibiki!  Euphonium, Ep01

Why yes, yes I am eight years old, why do you ask?

So I did my taxes tonight, a duty that I've been dreading for... reasons that should be obvious if you've been reading The Pond for any length of time.  I'm happy to say that the disaster I was expecting didn't occur.  So yay for me.  Up until that time, however, I looked very much like the young woman up there as I attempted to muster up the courage to actually do them.  Just without the sound effects.  I never could manage those.

Oh, the show, right right!  Loved the first episode, it's not at all K-On! with brass instruments like most people were lazily expecting.  Friend Ben has an entertaining little writeup that I recommend you read, as he went in-depth into the episode, and I'm going to be vapid and vague. 

The first thing to point out is that, whether you've liked their recent shows or not, Kyoto Animation still makes everything look friggin' amazing.  Sure, I picked a shot of sakura snow to illustrate that, but I could just have easily used this picture:

...and the point would still remain true.  Even a random throwaway shot of some garbagecans in a hallway looks beautiful.  In fact, the show as a whole so far reminds me of the days before KyoAni did Lucky Star and decided afterwards that everything had to look like that.  That maybe they're getting away from that is a good thing in my book.

"...is that a camera?"
It's not just landscapes and backgrounds.  Everything in Euphonium looks great.  Even the story seems to be less cutesy than one might expect, though I don't expect it'll ever be considered "dark".  "Slightly cloudy on a summer's day", perhaps, but not dark.  If for no other reason than...

...her.  In a world where everybody is refreshingly normal, she's about as nutty as squirrel poop, but even that's handled in a goofy, yet realistic way.  My feelings mirror Ben's here: "If there was a girl like that in my school, I would have pledged to help her take over the world."  She's a wackadoodle, but she's a fun wackadoodle.

I'm not saying this is going to be a slam-dunk.  KyoAni's had a bad track record with me of late, but there are signs that this might be something special.  Keep your wingtips crossed.

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April 08, 2015

Random Anime Picture #95: The Third Best Sniper...

You know how I knew that the new series Triage X was from the same guy who did character designs for High School of the Dead?

-Triage X, Ep01
Well, that and the nigh-on fetishistic abuse of women that abounded in the episode.  We've seen that before from Shoji Sato, as well as his... um... particular attention to proportions.

Swear to god, this cast is more top-heavy than a US destroyer in 1945... again, not like we haven't seen that before from this guy.  There is plenty of action, which seems to be taking the place of a coherent plot or serious characterization. 

I'm not sure if this is an episode title or just confirmation of my feelings about the show.  I'll pass, thanks, and if you have the sense evolution provided to sloths, you will too.  Ye cats and little fishes, this was unfortunate.

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March 06, 2015

Random Anime Picture #94: Wubba


-Aria The Origination, Ep13

So... squishy...

Fresh steaming piles of content are headed your way soon.  Until then, this will have to do.

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February 08, 2015

Random Anime Picture #93: Deadly Dutch Elm


-Ga-Rei Zero, Ep06
For the past couple of months, if not longer, I've been s-l-o-w-l-y working on a project for The Pond.  One that probably won't be worth the amount of time, to be honest, but one I should be enjoying.  Hell, it's the sort of thing that, in the past, I've loved doing!  As it's turned out, it's proven to be a royal pain in the asterisk.  Still, this is one of those things that I literally do NOT have the option to drop.  I acquired all the materials for this back when I was too busy to do anything with it... now that I've all the time in the world?  I don't have the drive to deal with the minor annoyances that have popped up along the way. 

On the other hand, I've enjoyed rewatching Ga-Rei Zero recently.  So wonderfully dark, spiked with light-hearted stretches that just emphasizes how damn evil it can be.  I'm just on edge of turning my Top Four into a Top Five, just so I can give it the credit it deserves.  And there is Pocky and laser weasels too, so it's got that going for it.  Which is nice.  Doesn't really help with the project, mind you, but there you go.

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January 27, 2015

Random Anime Picture #92: Giant Holographic Space Sharks


Because there hasn't been enough Rio Rainbow Gate! around here recently.  No giant holographic space sharks in the shot, though Rio will be jumping on the back of one any second now.

God, I love anime.  It lets me type sentences like that with a straight face.

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