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Archive for September, 2010

Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls Episode 1 – Trash as an Art Form

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Fanservice and exploitation of the 2D girl typically comes in one of three levels. There are shows that are relatively normal, but are aware they have some very attractively drawn characters and occasionally call attention to the fact. There are shows which make the sure the girls are regularly exposed or otherwise flaunt their assets to the main character and/or the camera, but keep this in the context of a real story. And then there are the shows where the entire point is to have the girls paraded about in a series of compromising events, and any hint of the plot, interesting characters, or other value is tossed out the window.

The first episode of Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls seems to fall very firmly into the third category, which is exactly what I was expecting when I first sat down to watch it. Despite that, I still found elements of the show far better than a mere female flesh fest would offer—and given the extraordinarily low expectations I went into the show with, that is certainly a point in its favor. Albeit an extremely small point.
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School President is a Maid Episode 26 – Love’s Trials

September 29, 2010 3 comments

Well, when Erika acted as a writer mouthpiece and predicted that Usui and Misaki would need to overcome a serious obstacle in order to make a romance between them possible, I wasn’t expecting something as literal as what actually happened. I was thinking, “Oh, Usui will need to overcome whatever block forces him to dominate Misaki so much, and open himself up in a meaningful way to the vulnerability that comes with the intimacy of a relationship.” I was not thinking, “Oh, they are going to do an obstacle course.” Vague prophecy this was not.

While the overt aspect of it had the potential to be trite and hamfistedly moralizing, the show manages to avoid the trite groanfest this could have been. This episode, the finale of the show, doesn’t officially renounce Usui’s more aggressive manipulation techniques or dominating tendencies. But it does create a situation where those elements are naturally displaced by honesty, partnership, and indeed love.
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Asobi ni Iku Yo! Episode 11 – The Mind’s Eye

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Kio Kakazu sat in what used to be his bedroom, next to what used to be his futon. It was the Cathian Embassy now, and Captain Coone was lying in the futon he had slept in for years now, utterly motionless. Her tail was tucked under the futon—if not for the two cat ears poking out of her purple hair, you could easily imagine her as a normal human woman. He hadn’t understood the explanation Eris had given for why she was unconcious—although he thought he had heard the word ‘nanomachines’–but he knew it was somehow related to the dog robots that had just attacked his house and injected her with a syringe.

Six months ago, he would have been unable to even imagine any of this, despite all the Star Trek he had watched in elementary school, or the novels and anime he currently devoured in what little spare time wasn’t occupied by school, club duties and escorting the Cathians on “cultural exchange” missions that seemed like a flimsy excuse to have fun. Dan Simmons and Vernor Vinge had left him completely unprepared for the reality of hovering spaceships, holograms and catgirls. Sometimes, he found himself wishing he had rented “All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku” last summer, instead of watching Evangelion for the fourth time.
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Katanagatari Episode 9 – The Exception that Proves the Rule

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Katanagatari has had several running themes throughout the series, but of them the largest has been that the deviant blades of Kiki Shikizaki, while all very powerful, are in some sense corrupting. The wielders of those swords may not all be rampaging monsters, but their time with their particular weapon has not left them unaffected.

This episode tosses that completely out the window. The sword Togame and Shichika are after this time can hardly be called a blade at all; it’s crafted as a wooden practice sword, with seemingly no ability at all. And its bearer, Zanki Kiguchi, is perhaps the most honorable and fair-dealing character in the show. This makes it all the more ironic that recovering the sword this time presents the most time-consuming challenge yet.
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School President is a Maid Episode 25 – Learning New Tricks

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Rather than offering a climax, this episode of School President is a Maid instead offers multiple distinct vignettes, advancing the growing conflict between Usui and Hinata in only incremental amounts before setting up for the next episode. Were I in a less forgiving mood, I might take a page from my co-blogger and complain about the lack of direction and the failure of this episode to stand on its own.

Even still, that the parts of the episode don’t quite gel together doesn’t mean the narrative isn’t advancing, or that we aren’t seeing some serious character development from the leads. This is mostly notably the case with Hinata, who gets several flashback scenes exploring the depths of his obsession with Misaki, but also in a crucial—and necessary—way with Usui.
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Asobi ni Iku Yo! Episode 10 – I Don’t Care Anymore

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

If there’s one downside to writing (however loosely) about each individual episode in a series, it’s weeks like this one. This is very clearly part 1 of what promises to be at least a two part story arc, and as such doesn’t stand very well on its own. It also sticks straight to the plot, with few digressions for advancing the side plots or expository conversation to ham-fistedly grow its world. In that respect, it’s quite a divergence from the norm.
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Amagami SS Episode 13 – Just an Ordinary Girl

September 24, 2010 2 comments

I mentioned last time that the arc for Ai Nanasaki was the one that interested me the most. To explain why, I’m going to have to discuss character designs. Although it’s common sense that in an animated feature the characters look, not like their actors, but whatever the creators decide they should look like, this carries with it certain implications.

One is that you very rarely see costume changes in anime shows, as it’s too annoying to draw characters consistently while also determining how the different clothes should fit on them. (That means outfits are themselves often a part of character design.) Another is that, particularly given the fantasy nature of many shows, the vast majority of anime girls are drawn to be attractive—even when they’re not technically supposed to be.
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