Monthly Archives: April 2019

Little Witch Academia (Series)

Type: Believe in the you that believes in yourself, that’s the true magic.

Synopsis: Akko has a dream, to kill all hu–, oops, wrong show. I mean, Akko has a dream, to meet her Idol, becomes best friends, and revitalize the magic industry together. It’s basically the story of an obsessive fangirl trying to make her delusions a reality. But in the nicest, most welcoming sort of way that you can’t help but root for her.

Pros: Amazing. It’s Amazing. It’s also stupendous, terrific, astounding, inspiring, marvelous, wonderful, excellent, sensational, superb, great, first rate, dazzling, and, dare I say it, magical. It’s the first Trigger show, scratch that, the first anime show in a long time that I could easily recommend to everyone, any age and any background. The show follows Akko, a in student at a prestigious magical school as she tries to learn magic to live up to her idol, Shiny Chariot. The first half of the series focuses more of Akko’s day to day life, her struggles in class, and her relationship with her roommates and friends. One of the things I was immediately impressed by how true to life Akko’s portrayal was. Because Akko is shown to be airheaded, lazy, heastrong, whiny, petty, but also brave, kind, and empathetic. An actually teenager. You can laugh at her one minute, but be inspired by her the next (ex: That scene by the fountain. Wow!). Her friends are also a great addition, and each character gets at least one spotlight episode to explore there character. I personally liked Sucy’s spotlight episode and her Eternal Sunshine-esque adventure. The second half of the series focuses more on the search for the Seven Magical Words, and moves the spotlight into some of the more auxiliary characters. Overall, this is the type of show that makes me happy to be an anime fan. This is the type of show that I could realistically give to my 5 year old niece, and/or her mother, and/or her grandfather, without any reservations about the content of reaction to it. It’s a truly all-ages property, joining the rank of Ghibli movies. It’s one of Trigger’s best shows, I would argue the BEST up till now, and a true spiritual successor to Gainax’s Gurren Lagann.

Cons:…maybe Croix. Professor Croix is the series antagonist that’s introduced halfway through (a traditional Trigger/Gainax mid-season twist). She’s not really too imposing, nor that interesting. Unfortunately, we never get a spotlight for her, making her feel more distant than the other characters. I also feel that the teachers at the school weren’t given the proper “cool guy” moment that I expected them to have. I did, however, like how the school’s business side was handled. The world in the anime knows magic exists, but no longer believe in it due to the rise of science and technology. Kinda like Tinker Bell, magic gets weaker the less people believe in it. So magic is kinda on it’s last legs when Akko shows up. And, I guess another negative is that you can’t binge watch it. Or shouldn’t, at least. It’s too good. You have to watch each episode one by one. YOU HAVE TO.

Watch it?: Officially on my Top 10 Favorite anime list. (6/5)

MVP: Akko

She may be a little witch now, but she’ll be shiny one day!

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Sleeping Sucy” (I am just so happy this went from a Kickstarter show to a full blown production).

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The Vision of Escaflowne

Type: That time Isaac Newton was thwarted by a Japanese teenager

Synopsis: And he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling defiers of fate, and their dumb dragon mecha!

Pros: First off, much better than the movie. In fact, the movie is super bad in comparison. This anime is all about a girl that is wisked away into a new land full of knights, and beastmen, and giant robots. One of the strongest things I can say about it is that it’s all very romantic. I don’t mean “romantic” as in a love story, through that is here, but as in the classical definition. There are chivalrous and handsome knights, byron-esque antagonists, evil Empires, dragons (in a sense), and various kings. It made the anime feel like I was watching a classic adventure story. And since this was made in 1996, it kinda is. The show’s premise is that the protagonists are on the run from the evil Zaibach Empire while going Kingdom to Kingdom trying to convince anyone to help them fight back. Along the way, we explore various aspects of the main and supporting cast, from their past to their presents and futures. The show has strong character exploration and character growth. The anime is a shojo¬† adventure story. This doesn’t take away from the action. Every episode or two has a fight scene with Escaflowne, the DRAGON MECHA. But it also explore the emotional turmoil each of the characters face from obvious things like losing an entire country, to smaller things, like your crush flirting with other people. What you get as a result is an anime is great action and great character work that I would argue belongs is the pantheon of great 90’s anime, right along side Cowboy Bebop, DBZ, and Evangelion.

Cons: I actually knew nothing about Escaflowne before watching this. I watched the movie too long ago to remember it, and it has very little to do with the actual anime anyway. After a few episodes, I realized that this obviously a shojo story. For instance, Hitomi is a pretty, but not too pretty, high school runner who was working on getting her first kiss before being sent to a magical land by a abrasive, but ultimately caring, prince. Along the way, she also meets a handsome older knight, forming a love triangle. She also develops a friend group where she’s the moderate, not as pretty or naive as Princess Millerna, but also not as cutesy or bratty as Merle. They get into fight over the boys of the series, with Hitomi obviously being the object of jealousy for her friends. And, of course, Hitomi solve’s all her friends problems just by caring, because she’s that good of a friend. It’s all very shojo (or at least very anime, because a male protagonist would get the same deal). But that’s what kept me going. You get to see what every character is feeling after important events, and each main character experiences a character arc, where they aren’t the same person as their first introduction. Well, except maybe Merle…no, even she learns to let Vann go. Because without all the interpersonal drama, this anime would be convoluted and generic. I still have no idea what the hell was going one with the Emperor’s fate alteration machine, or the whole Mystic Moon (Earth) vs. Gaea origins thing. Like, who came first? Was it us or them? The show kinda loses itself in the whole divination angle, but that’s only one aspect of an otherwise amazing show. It’s the kind of show where you could explore every episode by itself. There’s actually a lot more I’d love to delve into (like Allen and Faulken’s story arcs), but I’d rather you watch this show. It’s that good.

Watch it?: One of the few anime I would recommend taking your time on. Don’t binge. Enjoy the ride. It’s worth it. (5/5)

MVP: Allen Schezar

Handsome. Chivalrous. Brave. Skilled. Give him a Doctor’s License and I can bring him to meet my mother.

Best Episode: Ep. 10-13 The Fried Arc (a little bit of everything that makes the show great)

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Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Type: HD Remake

Synopsis: A long time ago, the author of a popular fighting manga made fun of super buff/macho characters to take the wind out of his fanbase. Years later, that same author decides to take on that same character archetype to pad out his retirement fund. The result? A pretty good interpretation all things considered.

Pros: Let’s address the Elephant in the room. Yes, Broly has been a fan favorite ever since his inception. He’s been in every non-anime release for Dragon Ball since his debut movie. And no, I don’t think the original Dragon Ball writers knew exactly why he was so popular, which is why all his subsequent animated portrayals were bad. Just the worst. Remember Bio-Broly? Because I DO. Anyway, in this movie the writers for Dragon Ball Super give something to Broly he was sorely lacking: a personality. You see, the original Broly movie was more of a Pegasus film, with Broly sorta just being there for the fight. But in this, Broly is given his own supporting cast and backstory, while staying true to the original film. The start of the film also works to canonize a few Saiyan story lines into the main continuity. Frieza is there. Bardock is there (and yes, he does the thing). Flippin’ Tarble gets a mention! Later in the movie, the fight between Broly and Goku/Vegeta is set up well enough, and the resolution worked well to protect everyone’s status. And hey, Gogeta joins the fight!

Cons: This movie is far and away better than the original. That being said, no one really explains why Broly is so strong. He just is. This would be find, except that this movie happens after the tournament of power, where Goku and Jiren surpassed the levels of gods with the multiverse at stake. So having some random dude push Goku to his limit created a bit of dissonance. And the fusion stuff reeked of fan service/marketing. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool that Gogera became cannon, but still. The movie also does retcon a few small details from the Story of Bardock, but honestly, it was nothing too controversial. And hey, Goku’s mom is here!

Watch it?: Best Dragon Ball hyperfighting you’ll see

MVP: The first half hour

Someday they will join you in the Sun Kal–I mean Kakarot.

Best Moment: The POV fight segment (I personally liked the early story stuff, but let’s be honest, everyone should watch the POV segment).

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Robot Carnival

Type: Animation showcase

Synopsis: This movie is a collection of animated shorts revolving around robots in some way.

Pros: Since this is a collection of different mini-movies, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what’s good and what’s bad. It all depends on your perspective. But overall, this is a fun little group of experimental films. A lot of the films are also lack a lot of dialogue, so almost everyone can watch this. And if your a fan of robot centric fiction, or films like the AnimeMatrix, then this is the film for you.

Cons: If you need a plot, then this isn’t the film for you. Again, you might end up liking some of the shorts more than others. I personally liked “Star Light Angel” and “Presence.” The films do vary in tone, but most lean towards to dramatic and serious. Don’t go looking for something super funny every ten minutes.

Watch it?: If you got an afternoon to kill, or like animation (4/5)

MVP: Old school animation

It just feels more real, ya know?

Best Moment: The girls having fun in “Star Light Angel” (I thought they were having fun gay times!)

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King of the Hill (April Fools Day Special!)

Type: Slice-of-Life Americana

Synopsis: The anime focuses on a father trying to deal with the asinine world that surrounds him. His son is a well-meaning otoku in training. His niece is a ditzy neet who can’t go home because her “trailer flipped over.” His best friends are a gun nut, a foodie, and a hentai. And his neighbor considers him his rival for some reason. At least he has his wife…who sometimes goes yandere at the prospect of anyone being better than her. It’s a taihen life, I tell ya h’wat.

Pros: The main difference between Japanese anime and American anime is the audience. Anime, in general, tries to appeal to a younger demographic overall, and a younger male demographic specifically. So even anime meant to appeal to “adults” really appeal to 14-35 year olds who share the same mentalities. That’s why most anime characters are under 30 years old. American anime is a lot of stratified. An anime is either for children or adults, no middle ground. So you get shows like Spongebob or Gumball, which are meant for kids ages 5-11, or shows like The Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers, which is meant for people 24-50. That’s why a show like King of the Hill mainly stars adults in their mid-40’s, and deal with mainly adults subjects. No fake adult like stuff like sleeping around or spreading gossip, but real stuff, like infidelity, financial issues, self-identify, raising a family, and propane and propane accessories. King of the Hill’s strength is it’s realist take on absurdity. A situation where one of the characters feels depressed about letting himself go after high school can escalate into the main characters dodging tank missiles during a war game. A feeling of unease in a marriage can wind up with a character falling to her certain death off a plane. You can, and several people probably can, analyze almost every episode of King of the Hill and find multiple topics of substance. Every King of the Hill story could be filmed in live-action, but it reaches its full potential thanks to animation. It’s a satire of American society during the 2000’s, without ever losing respect for the people that had to live through it.

Cons: That’s not to say that King of the Hill is perfect, or that American anime is superior. For one thing, American anime can’t escape the yoke of comedy. Unlike Japanese anime, which explores almost every genre, American anime only deals in humor. Even bleaker shows like Rick and Morty or Moral Orel still are categorized as dark comedies. King of the Hill probably came the closest at dealing with serious issues in a non-condescending way. That being said, it did so because it was never all that wacky or laugh out loud funny. It was expertly written, don’t get me wrong, but it never really penetrated the zeitgeist like other shows. Some characters also verged on annoying, to the point of polarizing the audience. Peggy Hill’s arrogance was funny at first, but then it became obnoxious. Same with Dale’s paranoia and selfishness. Even Hank’s stubbornness became an issue. I remember one late episode where Hank effectively blackmailed his minister to guarantee reserved seating for his family during sermons. What the hell was that!? I would also like to contradict myself a little by pointing out that despite adhering to realism, the show never aged any of the characters and ended up showing at least 4 Christmas episodes and 3 Thanksgiving episodes. I wish we could have seen Bobby transition from middle school to high school, but the show didn’t want to lose Bobby’s voice actress by aging up his voice. The show also tended to forget certain characters in the later season, namely Connie and Luanne, who got less and less screen time in the last 2-3 seasons. However, despite it flaws, it was still one of the few American tv shows, period, that showed a realistic portrayal of a working class family at the time. And whether you noticed it or not, King of the Hill was always there, and a lot of us wished it always would be.

Watch it: Yep. (5/5)

MVP: Hank Hill

“I hope I never make it to L.A.!” (real talk though, he’s probably one of the best example of how positive and negative masculinity can interact in a person).

Best Season: Season 4 (Miss Liz, Connie’s first period, Peggy and Cotton’s therapy, Randy Travis, just a good combination of all time great episodes) (p.s. Hank! There’s a little state between Hollywood and San Francisco called California, come visit! It promise it’s not all Hippies and Buzzfeed!)

 

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