Irina on 100 Word Anime

Hi guys,

How are you today? I hope you’re good. Happiness is contagious and there’s never enough around.

Today, I would like to have a little chat with you. Just a tiny update on my adventures in 100 Word Anime in case you are curious. First, let me tell you how all of this came about. I would like to clarify that Karandi did not ask me to write on her blog, it was entirely my initiative. I had been following 100 Word Anime for a while and had developed a healthy respect for Karandi as a blogger and reviewer. She had this enviable work ethic and managed to be respectful and mindful in all her writings and commentary. I thought I could learn a lot from her, and I still do.

Moreover, I had collaborated a few times with her and we worked well together. Our approaches to writing posts are alike which makes it easy to coordinate. What was most interesting to me though was that Karandi and I have somewhat similar style and generally aligned ways of thinking but very different tastes, with the exception of certain Yokai seeing young men.

I love comedies and sports! but am not yet grown up enough for most dramas. I will put up with objectively bad writing if it’s intentionally funny or if the technical merits of the anime are there but tend to lack appreciation for raw emotional writing if anything else is even slightly it of step. I’m often baffled by Karandi’s preferences (which I shouldn’t be because they are quite reasonable), as I’m sure she is by mine. But that has never bothered either of us in the least. That’s particularly special. It makes us complementary which is great.

Natsume Yuujin-chou San - 13 - Large 06
having friends is an underappreciated gift

But there’s nothing surprising about anything I’ve written here. I’m sure a lot of people would choose 100 Word Anime to write for if they wanted to write for another blog. The question is why write for another blog in the first place. Originally I wanted to try something new and since advertising is the part of blogging I enjoy least, I figured writing for another blog would be the perfect way to only keep the parts of blogging I like. I also thought it might be a way to cut back on my blogging time before it got too much… Let me tell you how that worked out.

I must say, as far as point 1 went, it’s been a smashing success. Karandi is a dream to work for. She is a distinctly unobstructive and hands-off editor. I’m essentially free to write whatever I want. I chose the posts which I think will work well on this site and so far Karandi hasn’t turned down a single submission. I format them myself and chose the images so I have full control over the look of my posts. I try to be careful not to clog up Karandi’s media library too much with my unhealthy love of pictures but she never even mentioned it. Really the only aspect that is not 100% up to me is scheduling but Karandi always runs it by me (even though she doesn’t have to).

Basically posting here is just like posting on my blog but easier. I can just complete my draft and forget about it. Karandi once mentioned she doesn’t see what I get out of it so let me try to explain even though we work very individually, I still feel like I’m part of a team in a way I hadn’t before through blogging. Karandi makes sure my posts are advertised through her usual channels and she even helps me answer comments sometimes. I don’t have to worry about any of that which takes a lot of the pressure off.

And it’s great for my moral. When a post I’ve written seems to do well on 100 Word Anime I’m just as happy as if it was on my own blog, but when it generates much less interest than I would have thought, I’m not disappointed. Since at least Karandi liked it enough to publish on her blog (a blog she cares about a lot so that’s a huge compliment) in my mind, the post is already a success. Anything else is icing. It’s allowed me to have a more relaxed attitude towards blogging which makes the experience more fun!

nyanko fun
nough said

So why do I still have I Drink and Watch Anime? And publish there so often at that? I have thought of porting my archives and followers here and just becoming a 10 0word anime contributor full time. I may still do that in the future. There are really Only 2 things holding me back really. One is my specific readers. For the most part, Karandi and I tend to share the same WordPress reader base and commentators. However, when you look at the “silent majority” we do tend to differ a bit. Our referrers are not the same and our keywords searches are very different.

Karandi obviously knows how to SEO and she gets searches usually on episodes or animes she has reviewed. On the other hand, I get a ton of super random almost incomprehensible searches, inquiries on specific little known characters, specific elements in series no one cares about anymore. It’s fascinating and for some reason, I feel a great kinship towards my offbeat readers, those that Google stuff like “let me do this”, and I would miss them if they weren’t around.

The other reason is that I’m superficial. I like messing with the way my blog looks. I like adjusting the layout and finding new headers. I like trying on new themes for hours just to not change anything. And in case you didn’t notice, I like having a zillion pics. I’m lazy so I just have a boring premade overpriced WordPress.com plan, instead of a fancy schmancy .org or other self-programmed one because I don’t want to learn how to code. (I should). I do however have the highest tier plan which gives me access to plugins, alternate themes and unlimited media. I don’t want to lose those perks. (cause I have screencap issues)

These two minor considerations are really the only things keeping tied to my blog right now. But they’re important to me, so I’m pulling double duty. If it wasn’t for my own stubbornness I would have switched over to Karandi’s blog completely and be taking it nice and easy right now!

I’m not sure if any of you wanted to know about this stuff but I love reading behind the scenes posts. I hope some of you thought it was a fun read!

Natsume and nyanko

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

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Fire Force Episode 2 – The Devil and the Knight

Karandi let me write about Fire Force this week and I almost feel like I owe her a present. This week was impressive to say the least and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Not only was the narrative great but the visuals were a feat. I wouldn’t have realized just how carefully the images had been matched to the beats of the episode if I hadn’t put together the gallery HERE. I encourage you to take a look, it’s one of my favourite visual stories in recent memory.

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again with the religious imagery!

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought we would learn even more about Shinra and his tragic past and that another beautifully animated fight with an infernal would take place. I also figured they would find a way to make the girls have an underwear tickle party or something.

What Did Happen

None of that! First we got intorduced to a new character named Arthur who appears to be an old classmate’s of Shinra. We did get a beautifully animated fight but it was training and it was against Maki (who kicked absolute derrière and didn’t even get her shirt ripped). An infernal incident did come up but rather than a violent confrontation, it was a sombre and sad event that left everyone shaken. Shira is slowly realizing the weight of the job he decided to take on.

As the chief pointed out, the most terrifying part of the job, is getting use to it.

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haunting

What About the Characters

Last week, I was a little scared that Fire Force would turn out to be a one man show and that the ladies were mere window dressing. Completely wrong on both parts! A good deal of focus was given to the newly introduced Arthur. We don’t learn that much about him but his personality is now well established. Shinra took a bit of a step back allowing the rest of the cast to shine, particularly the chief, Maki and Arthur who all had some great hero moments and were built up considerably by the narrative. This is turning into a very good ensemble cast.

The characters that were a little less present never the less each had some quirky moments to wet our appetite and make us want to know more. In Arthur, Shinra has a proper character foil. Their interactions and dynamic was a lot of fun to watch and showed us quite a bit about how each thinks.

What I Liked

Just about everything! I feel like series often start at episode 2. The first episode is more like a showcase and extended trailer to grab attention at the start of a busy season but it’s in the second episode that the narrative finds it’s footing and properly starts building the story. If so Fire Force is set to be one fantastic story.

A lot of unexplained background details seem to hint a rich lore. I remain very intrigued by the religious aspect but now I also want to learn about firemen training. There’s an entire academy dedicated to it, it seems and not everyone sees their role in the same way. Once again, the exposition was woven through the action and comedy in a completely organic manner.

The technical aspects are just exquisite. You can see the pretty pictures in my gallery but beyond that there was once again the use of abrupt scene cuts that guided the narrative flow and changed the mood. I’ve rarely seen such creative editing and so far it’s been very successful. The colour game is masterful. Arthur’s voice actor did a great job and the entire voice cast has fantastic chemistry with each other.

Moreover, the episode played out in roughly four acts all with different tones. The intro (Arthur’s entrance) was slightly tense and mysterious, the fight with Maki was comedic action and even featured some subtle 4th wall breaks, the incident with the infernal was serious and rather tragic while the conclusion was a very bittersweet appeal to hope. Goin through so many shifts in 20 some odd minutes should give you emotional whiplash but it was somehow handled perfectly. I’m speechless.

What I Liked Less

I honestly couldn’t tell you. I guess some of the symbolism is very on the nose?

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tomorrow is another day

Closing Thoughts

Considering that 90% of this post was spent gushing on the stuff I liked, there’s no real point in telling you that I enjoyed this week’s Fire Force. It’s a very well made anime with complex and interesting characters and a premise full of potential. Sure, it would be possible to screw it up but considering that my few complaints from episode 1 were completely addressed and my fears for this episode could have been farther from the truth, I have to trust that the creative team behind this series knows exactly what it’s doing.

I can’t wait until next Friday!

Mood: Impressed

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 1 – Bell Can Find Trouble Anywhere

Karandi - Avatar

 

Irina, you’re going to have to give me a few minutes to finish dancing, cheering, and maybe performing a cartwheel or two because I’m just that happy to see ‘Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?’ (which I will forever now just write DanMachi for) is back for a second season. I loved the first season so much and I’ve been devouring the light novels which means I’m super anticipating what this season will bring us.

Waiting…waiting… Actually, imagining Karandi dancing around like a little girl in her living room is pretty fun. I could do this all day. I quite enjoy writing out Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? It’s a very fun title and what drew me into the series the very first time I heard about it. In a showing at an anime convention. I’m glad it’s back to but I’m thinking you’re going to be the cheerleader on this one. My feelings are a bit more neutral.  

I will admit that this first episode of the season is a lot of set-up and feels a little bit slow in places. We start with a kind of lack-lustre fight in the dungeon which doesn’t really show what this series can bring us in the action department. However, what it does establish is that Bell, Welf, Lily and the addition of Mikoto are a fine team in the middle levels of the dungeon and monsters that were previously terrifying and hard to combat are now fairly routine provided they are careful. So while it isn’t the most exciting opening it does nicely establish where the characters are currently sitting. What did you think?

I was sort of playing catch-up. Bell and Lily are well established and I knew exactly who they were. I have a soft spot for Welf so I remembered him as well but I honestly had no clue who Mikoto was and what her relationship to the rest of the party was. I’m currently watching Log Horizon so dungeon fighting scenes are pretty common in my life these days but it was fine. Like you say, nothing that special but you gotta start somewhere.

It did remind me how much I enjoy the simple but cute character designs though! 

The bar fight was quick and brutal which clearly it is supposed to be. I know I found it really silly in the books that Bell gave in to that provocation and I found it equally silly here but it does get the ball rolling. Bete’s intervention disguised as being annoyed and his comment to Bell that he shouldn’t be cocky was nicely delivered. It is amazing that all up Bete has probably barely been in the anime for an episode and yet he usually leaves a lasting impression, though it is a mixed offering of good and bad impressions. I guess he’s just the kind of guy who does what he wants and damn everyone else and sometimes that works out and other times he comes off like a jerk. How did you see it?

I have not read the books but I found it in character for Bell to stand up for Hestia. His greatest weakness is his goddess and he’s always been pretty adamant about protecting her reputation. It’s the one stupid thing he does. Bell does run the risk of turning into a Mary Sue (Gary Stu) pretty easily so having him blindly hot-headed on a topic gives a bit of complexity to his character. I don’t dislike it.As for Bete, I think it may be the character design. I tend to remember silver wolf boys even if they don’t do very much… Then again I also have a soft spot for Bete. Hmmm, it seems I like the gruff guys in Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Then again, I also like Hermes so make of that what you will.

Hermes is fantastic. I love how he literally messes with everyone and then pretends he doesn’t do a thing.

However, then Hestia finally arrived in the episode and it felt like the anime finally kicked into gear. I love how she scolded Bell even while treating his injuries and fussing over him. Hestia and Bell’s relationship remains really complicated as she does treat him as a child but also flirts horrendously with him and gets incredibly jealous. Hestia and Loki’s reaction to Bell dancing with Ais at the part was hilarious and I love that Asfi just kind of tucked them both under her arms like they were out of control children and ignored their complaints.

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IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? ARROW OF THE ORION 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: HESTIA

I had forgotten just how intense the fanservice is. I suppose in many ways Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? shares a lot of tropes with harem anime so this would be in keeping with that. 

I do like Loki a lot. I think it’s fun whenever she’s on-screen. And as I mentioned I like Hermes as well.  I know enough about Greek mythology to be able to draw some parallels but I’m still a little fuzzy on the workings of Gods and their place in the DanManchi (I gave in) universe. Seeing so many of them together is always fun for me and having their “children” there as well, changes the interactions. I liked the ball scene a lot more than everything that came before it.

I kind of stopped trying to make real mythological parallels with the characters because it isn’t all the accurate and it kind of bugged me the very first time I watched the first anime. I made the decision to just assume that other than some vague correlations to the myths these characters were all their own.

As a first episode of the new season we had some new characters introduced with Daphne and Cassandra delivering the invitation to Apollo’s party and Apollo himself at the party as well as other members of the Apollo familia. We also got reunited with Freya and her minion (whose name I never do remember), Loki, Ais, Hermes and various other gods, goddesses and their children. The party is actually a good way for us to have a quick visit with each of the main players without lingering for too long and it served the purpose of getting the ball rolling for what is clearly going to be the first arc of this season.

A red-headed Apollo just melted my brain a tiny bit. As a concept.  couldn’t quite explain why exactly but it looked off and every time I saw him, it bugged me a little.  

Visually there wasn’t a lot of action in this episode and as normal DanMachi is kind of just okay during the rest of the scenes. There’s some fairly sketchy backgrounds and background characters with no faces in a few scenes and while it all generally works it isn’t exactly the prettiest anime out there. Hopefully once we get to some of the fights we see some cool visuals because season one set a fairly high standard with the Minotaur fight and I’d love to see something of that level again.

Like I said, I quite like the character design in DanManchi and was happy to see it intact and well. The ball gowns were a bit disappointing in that I was hoping for some ridiculously elaborate affair, maybe à la Black Butler. I was also a touch let down that the used stills during the dancing scene. 

On the other hand, I honestly hadn’t noticed anything amiss the backgrounds and faceless extras have become so commonplace that my brain hardly registers them anymore. Visually I liked it. The sound design was ok and the vice acting decent.

Otherwise this episode was exactly what I wanted, more DanMachi. I’m really excited for the next episode and while this isn’t the slickest production coming out this season, this was definitely the anime I was waiting for. It would have to take a fair mis-step for me to dislike it and honestly there’s nothing here to dislike. For fans of DanMachi it continues the story well and sets up what it needs to set up. Your final thoughts, Irina?

As an episode in and of itself, I thought it was ok. Nothin that special really. As a set-up I liked it. This war game declaration at the end caught my interest and I want to know where it goes. That’s all you really want out of a first episode so I can’t complain!

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Granbelm Episode 2 – Well This Was Unexpected

It seems I will be taking over the Granbelm reviewing for Karandi. She’s still going to be watching the show so I’m sure she’ll be reading the posts along with you! I hope I don’t disappoint!

I’m also trying out this review layout. Feel free to give me your comments on it! Oh and of course you can see the full gallery HERE!

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let’s start with a bang

What I Thought Would Happen

After last week, I honestly thought we were going to get some more difficult to follow magical exposition mumbo jumbo, intercut with some more mecha battles. Maybe a flashback scene to how the previous girls became magical pilots. Something along those lines.

What Did Happen

After a out of the blue but quick naked scenes, the episode actually settled into a school based Slice of Life. After pushing her newfound magical powers to their limit Mangetsu had been completely exhausted and ended up spending the night at Shing’s place….without warning her parents….who reasonably called the police! When’s the last time we saw fit parents in anime??? After this, we got some more magical world building exposition. It was still a bit garbled but the jist of it is that Magical Girls are all decedents of Magicians but only one of them can claim the title for herself so every ten years, when the stars align or something, they fight to see who will become the next hokage. That sounds about right.

Why our girl Mang is suddenly involved is still nebulous but moving on. To help her out keep an eye on her, Shing transfers to Mang’s school. No one shortens the names like that, purely my initiative. Meanwhile. Magical girls all over town are on the move and all of them attend the same school. Who knew?

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if I had a nickel every time someone said that about me!

What About the Characters

Actually, I liked them. I can’t say they improved much. It’s not like they got more complex or interesting really. In fact Mang went from being a Mary Sue to being a Pollyanna and a Mary Sue. But they have decent chemistry. Shingetsu got a few humanizing moments that were very fun and therefore her character seemed more fun for them, even though she really hasn’t changed much. And although the antagonists (I have to learn her name at some point) is pretty one note “bad”, she did have this warning in the very last scene that made it seem like there’s more depth to her than expected. That warning wounded sincere and that’s intriguing.

What I Liked

I really liked the mundane moments. I think if they skew the show to 80-90% CGDCT content and leave the magical girl and mecha stuff as a bit of background flavour, Granbelm may in fact have a lot of promise. If you had told me this last week, I would have called you a liar…under my breath.

Shingetsu’s backpack scene was a brilliant sight gag. It managed to be funny yet sweet and relatable at the same time. And as I mentioned the show looks pretty good.

What I Liked Less

The overaching magical mecha plot just seems to bring the series down. I sometimes get the impression that the writers haven’t figured out all the details yet so they’re keeping it vague on purpose. But even the stuff we do know if pretty lacklustre. We’ve seen very similar done way better. I think there’s a missed opportunity to go in a bit deeper on the macha side of things.

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there may have been a lot of pictures of lilies at some point….

Closing Thoughts

Granted, at this point I was expecting almost nothing out of Granbelm so I may be a little skewed in my perception. This said, although not necessarily impressive on any level, I found this episode enjoyable. It had some sweet moments, a few laughs, a very convenient magical power! Basically I had a good time with it. If this keeps up, I might even recommend the series.

Looking forward to next week.

Mood: Pleasantly surprised

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Given Episode 1 – Musings in E minor

Irina2Hello 100word anime readers! You know what I thought when I saw Given pop up on the summer season schedule? I though it’s been a while since I watched a pretty boy anime…and they’re artistic too! Then I thought You know what’s better than staring at animated pretty boys? Staring at animated pretty boys and dishing about it with a girlfriend!!! So here we are. I’m sorry K, I think I just alienated a lot of your non pretty boy loving audience….

Karandi - Avatar

I wouldn’t worry about it, I doubt people who aren’t into staring at animated pretty boys, or music, are actually going to read a post about Given so I’m pretty sure we’re right to gush to our heart’s content here. Which is probably a good thing really.

Just in case it wasn’t clear, I’m Irina and I will be in BOLD font today while the always lovely Karadi will be delicate.

When choosing a show entirely on superficial reasons, visual presentation and mostly character designs become really important. I do like the look of the characters in Given but at first glance, they seemed rather generic. Cute student types not quite as sparky as KyoAni draws them. Some more interesting designs do appear later on in the episode though. What were your first impressions Karandi?

Looking entirely at the character designs, neither of the two main characters really catch my interest. I mean, they are perfectly fine main characters but not overly gush worthy. But then there’s the drummer… 

ooooohhhh yeah, there is definitely that drummer… His OP appearance was a high point.

Okay, my usual issue is that the characters are a little too young for me to seriously gush even if I wanted to, but it is a very nice looking show.

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they are perfectly fine boys

I must say the opening sequence was actually surprisingly poignant. The series of scenes silently showing Mafuyu distraught over a broken guitar string, isolated from his peers and over eagerly trying to find a place for himself hit a nerve with me. I particularly liked that there was no soundtrack at all until Uenoyama and Mafuyu meet. It was a poetic production touch that seemed to betray some care and vision on part of the adaptation team.

I’m with you. The fairly quiet opening with just the sounds of footsteps, the key in the door, the ambient noise at the train station all just kind of drew me in and made me wait for something. I wasn’t even really sure what I was waiting for. This makes the inclusion of sound later in the episode more affective and by the time we got to the band practice the contrast with this quiet opening hit really hard. it made it stand out so much more than if we’d been bombarded with sound throughout the episode.

We got to know our main characters a bit in the first half. So far they seem rather stereotypical, not that it’s a bad thing. Any thoughts on Mafuyu and Ueno?

I loved that Ueno described Mafuyu as a puppy he’d picked up. That made me laugh and it seemed so accurate. 

I like the dynamic between the two boys so far. They are both stereotypical in their own way, but as you said before this production has a lot of care behind it (or seems to) and there’s already small details creeping in that help to distinguish these characters from the many mopey teenage anime boys we’ve seen before.

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this would work on me

Personally, I’m a sucker for the Cloudcuckoolander archetype so I quite liked Mayufu. I think he works particularly well because we get pretty much no background on him whatsoever. A mysterious, apparently well-meaning weirdo. It’s not special, but it’s cute.

It was kind of nice that they didn’t hit us over the head with the exposition stick and try and unpack everything about these characters into the first episode. We got enough to get a sense of who they are and a brief glimpse at why they are that way but there’s a lot of space for fleshing them out as we go forward and clearly the two together are going to help each other grow.

Considering the passion and dedication you put in your blog, I’m not sure if you’ve ever felt the sneaky underhanded pain of slowly losing your passion for something, but I loved how it was illustrated through Ueno. I also really enjoyed that he hadn’t given up on playing guitar, he simply wasn’t having fun anymore. I find media often shows artistic endeavours as all or nothing. Either burning all-encompassing passions that overshadow everything else in the character’s life or they just give up on them altogether. In reality, most passions have ups and downs, they change with time, calm down once the novelty disappears but that doesn’t mean you have to stop everything. It’s a reality we don’t see portrayed much.

I actually found this all too relatable because I was actually aiming for a music related career (not performing) when I was young and worked really, really hard. however, as I got older I found I was more practising because it was time to practice or because it was an ingrained habit rather than finding any real joy in it. I ultimately walked away from music altogether because it just wasn’t what I wanted any more and that was a really hard decision given the time and effort I’d put into it.

That said, while my passion was not reignited and instead got channelled more into an obsession with fiction, I really liked seeing Ueno in this episode and seeing him finding some of the fun in playing again. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with this.

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I have a feeling this sentiment will come up a lot!

As far as design goes, I enjoyed the other band members a bit more (cough drummer cough). Sure, I have a soft spot for blonds and for slightly older looking characters so that helped but they also seemed more fun. That long-haired bassist in particular just looked like someone I’d grab a drink with. We might as well be groupies right off the bat. Who’s your favourite Karandi?

Yeah, it was definitely the drummer. He seemed a little more down to earth than the others and more like a quiet observer but we really didn’t get a lot of time with the other characters so I guess we’ll find out what they are like a bit more as the story goes.

Here are my overall thoughts on the first episode. The art style grew on me and I like the soft colour washes. The pacing was good and particularly suited in creating an emotional context without much exposition. The story is simple and so far, the characters are rather tropey but I’m encouraged by the way the narrative is structured.

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I think you did

After I watched the first episode, I realized I had at some point read the first few chapters of the manga but I never finished it, so I’m interested in seeing where the story goes.

Mayufu may end up a little *too* precious for my tastes. However, I’m happy that he took the initiative to visit the band and learn a bit about the guitar on his own, even after Ueno explicitly told him he wouldn’t teach him.

I would say it’s a solid 7.5 start. Your opening thoughts?

I know I read the first chapter of this at some point, but legitimately don’t remember anything other than the synopsis so I’m more or less going in blind here. So far, I thought this was a well made first episode and I like how they’ve presented the characters. The colour palette isn’t really my first choice given it is a little bit washed out but I loved the direction, particularly when the band was playing. That scene was just great to watch and again speaks of a lot of care going into the production.

However, I will avoid giving a score because I find numbers mostly meaningless. This one however has gotten my attention and from a production point of view is probably one of the better first episodes that have come out this season. I’m definitely looking forward to more.

Of course, I took a lot of screencaps and dumped them on my blog – it’s what I do!!!

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Are Otaku The Worst?

Hello everyone, welcome to my story time!

A few months ago I watched a youtube video by this guy who has a comedy tv show review/commentary channel. He basically picks a show, watches a bit and pokes lighthearted fun at it with these little cartoon avatars. It’s a cute channel and I enjoy it as an occasional distraction even though I don’t think I’ve seen any of the series he talks about.

Anyways, he recently made a sort of behind the scenes video where he talked about navigating international copyright laws. How different large distribution companies tend to deal with fair use and why he avoided certain shows despite frequent requests. It should be said that this guy is American born but lives in Japan.

As such, the subject turned to anime and why he never reviewed *any* even though it was the single most requested topic from viewers by far. At this point I was expecting some specific limitations of Japanese Intellectual Property laws which would apply to Japanese creators and this being somewhat connected to my work, I was very interested.

Instead, he found a polite way to say, anime fans are the worst! What he said was that the anime kids are “next level”, which was indeed a very nice way to put it. He then explained that he had done a very short essay video a long time ago, when his channel was tiny, going over some of the history of Anime and stating that it was his belief that modern Anime simply doesn’t live up to the shows from the late 80s and 90s.

**** Just a small personal aside here. He also stated that this was a common belief among anime essayist and reviewers and I have indeed seen it expressed a lot. However, despite the fact that I think this guy and I are similar in age and have had similar anime experiences, I strongly disagree with this. I believe every era has had its share of strong and weak shows. This said, just by virtue of increased output, there is more variety and I find contemporary works tend to buck some traditional tropes and try things I had not seen before. Kill la Kill, for instance, came out in 2013/2014, just off the top of my head, and is generally well-liked and not considered appallingly derivative… I went on a big tangent here. If you actually want to know my views on this subject, let me know. I get pretty passionate when people dismiss art based on age. It’s just a number man….****

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Nana is a classic anime, beloved by many, which came out in 2007…

Back to the subject at hand. Even though I may not share that opinion, it’s both pretty common and pretty tame. However, it seems the poor guy received a deluge of hate, all the way to death threats based on that only. He mentioned not having gotten such a negative reaction before or since, despite his channel having gotten pretty big in the meantime.

We hear these types of stories all the time. Otaku act all meek and wounded but they bite! They play the victim but they will rip into you at the drop of a hat. I have an occasionally confrontational job with a huge amount of delicate politics to take into account but I never watch my words as carefully as when I interact with anime fans. I consider my blog a bit of a safe haven (within reason) but whenever I stray elsewhere I walk on the most fragile of eggshells.

So are we really the worst? I should include myself. You saw that paragraph up there being all grumpy about the old versus new anime debate. And I’m milktoast. I can just imagine how a more passionate person would react! And if we are, is it ok to be the worst?

The short answer is no. Death threats immediately invalidate your opinion. If a fascist dictator can advocate for genocide more calmly and eloquently than you discuss your entertainment preferences, something went wrong. Time to take a deep breath and try again.

But being particularly passionate and protective of a medium you enjoy shouldn’t be a bad thing by default. Heck, it’s one of the things I like about anime fans! So how did it go from, look at all the pretty colours to all those that disagree shall fertilize my garden?

snow-white-with-the-red-hair-garden
this image may be from Karandi’s top anime gardens post

I’ve always thought that part of it is due to the fact that anime is an emergent market. It’s still a little fringe. The world seems to be absolutely set on convincing me that anime is just not very popular in Japan and is actually more widespread outside the country, which means it’s not that popular anywhere. And it never was, so there’s no respectable history to fall back on, like theatre or opera. My theory is that anime fans get so overzealous when protecting anime because they feel like no one else will.

That’s just a personal theory though and it still doesn’t make the behaviour any more acceptable.

I’m always very skeptical when people single out anime fans as the worst. Yes, I’ve had a few unpleasant experiences with people that were aggressive in their fandoms and that was frightening. For the most part, it’s just the usual mix of low-grade misogyny, insecure people being gatekeepers to show they are better smarter fans and just harmless excessive enthusiasm for favourite franchises. That’s the sort of thing you see in just about every community.

Just ask anybody that has any sort of public presence!

So why does our bad reputation persist? We’re a bunch of self-identifying nerds and dorks who have a soft spot for cute things! I understand that in the specific case of the video commentator I mentioned it may simply have been a mix of unique circumstances and perceptions.

The video came out when he was a much much smaller channel so bad comments are bound to stick out more. Being a Japan-based creator who does blogs on the country he probably did attract some hardcore anime fans but since he doesn’t talk about it often, the only ones that would have stuck around on that basis were the extremely passionate ones with enough free time to do so. You get what I’m saying. There are a few annitubers, some of which have pretty controversial views and their comments section are…I was going to say fine but let’s go with completely normal for the platform.

However, whether earned or not our reputation cannot be denied and that’s not great. Maybe we should get an anime ambassador to rehab our image. Maybe we could all be anime embassadors, I know a lot of people around here that don’t fall into the “worst” category.

What do you think, is our reputation for aggressive lashing out and gatekeeping justified? Can we fix it? Will we?

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Nuancing my Views on Fanservice

Karandi has also addressed this issue – you should read her post here

I have spoken of fanservice in general and my personal take on it several times on my blog. The short version is that I’m all for it. Generally, I’m prone to speaking in favour of fanservice even in instances when it doesn’t particularly appeal to my personal tastes. Vive la difference and all that.

But lately, I’ve started to see another side of the issue I hadn’t considered before. That is the possibility that the inclusion of fanservice, particularly excessive fanservice, could in certain circumstances detract from the whole. What do I mean by that?

fujiko mine
I get easily confused

I have read many comments along the lines that fanservice makes anime unmarketable outside of Japan. I’m not yet convinced by that. Western media has long been very sexualized, although I will admit that North Americans have some really weird hang-ups about nudity. Still, I don’t necessarily think the at times raunchy side of anime is going to keep it off people’s watchlists. This may have been a lot truer in the days of network TV but in a post streaming world, the rules have changed. Besides the yearly 178% increase in the international consumption of legal anime (mostly in America) would seem to indicate that it’s a highly marketable product on the international market.

This said just because fanservice may not be hurting anime’s popularity, it could be hurting, for lack of a better term, its credibility. Let me give you an example. I was having a little anime chat with the lovely Lita a while ago and she was telling me about one of her favourite series: Witchblade. She loves this anime and talks about the interesting and well-crafted universe as well as the unusual focus on a strong and healthy mother-daughter relationship but she mentioned at least 3 times that the series was very heavy on fanservice, and she did so in an apologetic way. She capped off her sales pitch by saying that “if you can get past the fanservice” it’s a great show. (I have not seen the anime but if it’s anything like the old comics then yeah, there’s gonna be a lot of fanservice).

I’m not sure if Lita just thinks I’m a big prude (I really need to rebrand…) But at the time I was left with the impression that she was just going along with the sad general misconception that fanservice is just a negative in and of itself. To be clear, I do not think Lita believes that in the least, more that she believes the bias is so prevalent that she felt the need to defend a beloved series because of it.

I breath ratified anime blogger air where a lot of the fans I interact with are fanservice aficionados. Some will watch series **only** on the merits of fanservice. There are blogs dedicated to exploring and sometimes imagining lesbian characters, or on praising the merits of the Ecchi genre. I have read more posts explaining why harems are the best than looking into the fascinating differences in cultural beliefs and understanding illustrated through slice of life anime. Or the fascinating potential predictions found in sci-fi and mecha anime… Basically, my first-hand experience leads me to think fans love and appreciate fanservice. But these fans do not necessarily reflect the majority. And even when they do appreciate it, they might still be subconsciously putting it in another category. Maybe not but the notion may be worth sparing a thought.

thinking anime
thinking hard!

I have noticed that people treat highly sexualized material differently. They apply different standards. Some people, I assume, are uncomfortable with sexuality just like I have issues enjoying stories depicting violence towards animals (even animated ones). That’s too bad. Even people that don’t have issues with this type of material will sometimes have these negative assumptions. The storyline and/or characters are probably not very good because it’s relying on being sexy. Or it can only be enjoyed if you find the characters attractive because it’s created for that reason only… Like I said, few if any anibloggers think that way but I have seen some comments along those lines for anything that could be taken as bl.

If this assumption exists in the minds of the general audience, then there’s a risk that anime will always be considered a type of lesser tier entertainment even as demand for it rises. A bit like reality tv for example.

Then there’s a more pragmatic issue. Creating anime is a balancing act. Generally, the fanservice you put in is taking the place of something else. Let me use Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka as an example because it’s still pretty fresh in my mind.

Asuka is quite heavy on fanservice. That’s not a bad thing. Unfortunately, it’s very hit or miss fanservice. For instance, a lot of the *tragic past* scenes are sexualized and for me, the mix of depressing and sexy took away from both. I’m just not sure how I’m supposed to feel when a character I’ve gotten to know and even bond with a little is completely defeated clutching a dying friend while the camera is focusing straight down her cleavage. Sad for her? Aroused? I can pull of scared or tense and attracted at the same time, but empathy I feel for the character in that situation sort of pushes out the sexy thoughts. As a result, the fanservice distracted from the emotional impact of the drama and the sadness of the scene took away from the sex appeal.

ASUKA3
oh good, back to cleavage then!

The show also featured several extended scenes of highly sexualized torture. One of the first instances targets one of Asuka’s close friends. And it’s more or less useless, narratively that is. Since there is a little memory erasing trickery happening, the only actual payoff of this sequence is to have Asuka feel guilty (even more so), for putting her friends in danger. Even that is dampened when we find out it’s unrelated to her. Otherwise, there is no effect at all on the blissfully ignorant friend, the bad guys it serves to introduce are either dispatched in the episode or dropped from the show without resolution. Basically, the only reason to have this entire event is to add some graphic fanservice in.

Again this isn’t a bad thing in itself. The problem comes from the fact that Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is a show that suffers from not having enough time for proper worldbuilding and character development. So having most of an episode on an event that is immaterial to the plot feels like a huge waste. Chekhov would be very disappointed.

This is how I would have changed it, not that anyone asked. Have he torture happen offscreen and Asuka just learns about and is distraught. Moving it to her POV will allow us to bond more with her. Then the other girl with the big chest and obvious obsessive crush on her can drop by and comfort her with her body while reminiscing about old times. There, you have character development in the form of exploring one of the central relationships in the series and sharing some background on both. You have the opportunity for some establishing exposition so the plot doesn’t feel too strong together. And you can have some explicit fanservice and Yuri to boot. Where’s my Oscar?

I got sidetracked, I do that a lot. My point was that the fanservice in Asuka isn’t the problem but the way it’s integrated into the show doesn’t seem all that thought out. It’s not weaved into the story or used to enhance scenes. It just seems thrown in and occasionally wedged in, to meet a sexy quota. And when viewers think it’s at the expense of storytelling, then it can give the concept of fanservice as a whole, a bad reputation.

So what are my current views on fanservice? I still like it! But I think it’s important that it be given the same respect and held up to the same standards as any other element that goes into making a great anime. So I am going to try reviewing it as such in the future. Not just Ganesh them are great bitties… What can I say, I’m just classy that way. Now to watch a whole lot of fanservice. What? It’s research!!!

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!