Kannazuki no Miko: A mixing of many genres

Kannazuki no Miko is a fourteen chapter manga created by Kaishaku, you may recall the duo’s name from when I reviewed Steel Angel Kurumi 2. In late 2004, TNK and Geneon collaborated on a twelve episode series. This may be Kaishaku’s most famous work. It’s generally pretty popular with yuri fans but it’s also controversial. I’ll keep this as spoiler free as I can, but I do need to address that. Just because I feel that it’s an important discussion topic. So, let’s delve into it and find out why the series managed to rile some people up and why it managed to endear itself to some others.

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Story:

Himeko is a high school student approaching her 16th birthday. At the same time, the school’s princess, and Himeko’s close friend, Chikane They’re planning to get together for a special party for the two of them when things go wrong. Destruction rains down on their city. Chikane goes to find Himeko, who is under attack by a giant robot piloted by her friend, Souma. Souma seems to be under the control of an outside force, repeating that he has to kill the shrine maiden. He manages to overcome the control due to his fondness for Himeko and fights against another giant robot, defeating it. The trio find out that Himeko and Chikane are destined shrine maidens of the sun & moon. An ancient evil, Orochi, named for the legendary eight-headed serpent, has resurrected and Himeko and Chikane need to awaken the strongest swordsman, Ame no Murakumo, in order to stop it. Souma is one of the eight heads of the Orochi. He vows to use his strength to protect Himeko from the other seven.

The biggest flaw with the series is that it’s pretty rushed. The series tries to combine a lot of different factors. The mecha battles, the duty of the maidens, the back story, the motivations for the seven loyal Orochi heads themes of destiny and the cycle thereof & the love triangle with Himeko, Chikane & Souma. All in a twelve episode series. There really isn’t adequate time to fully flesh out everything. Then there’s the love triangle. The issue with it is that it’s obvious just from the opening theme where it’s going to ultimately go. The way it gets there is quite interesting, but the drama of it still suffers quite a bit from knowing how it’s going to ultimately unravel.

To the series’ credit, it does have several really good ideas and the content is, as a whole, handled reasonably well. There’s a lot of really strong tension throughout the series and there are a lot of twists and turns that leave you legitimately guessing what’s coming next. Which does make for a very interesting series The ending wraps things up pretty nicely and has some really strong moments.

Now that we’ve discussed the other negative and positive aspects of the story, let’s move into the controversy. Which I’m sure everyone will be perfectly reasonable when discussing or when commenting on my discussion of. I’ll keep this as spoiler free as I possibly can, but it’s also not something that can really be talked about without giving away some major things. So, there will be spoilers.

This series has a rape scene and the controversy revolves around this scene and whether or not it’s acceptable. One of the major lines of argumentation is over whether the scene in question is using the horrific rape equals love trope. Basically, X rapes Y and, after some time passes Y and X come together as a couple. Fans of the series argue that its a subversion of the trope because of the motivation surrounding the rape. Basically, X wants Y to hate them. It ultimately fails, because Y has faith in X and won’t believe that X is a bad person even with everything that’s happened. The fans argue that, because the motivation is to elicit Y’s hatred for narrative reasons and not for sex and because X ultimately doesn’t get what they want, it’s more of a subversion than the trope played straight. Critics, in contrast, argue that its the trope played straight because they do ultimately become a couple and that the motivation is just an excuse to try and justify it.

So, what do I think? I think they’re having the wrong argument here. It’s illustrated quite strongly before the rape scene that Y is already in love with X, even if Y isn’t cognizant of that fact, and vice versa. Generally, the rape equals love trope involves the romance stemming from the rape or it has the couple getting together as a result of the rape. In this case, when the rape happens, it creates a conflict in the romantic dynamic between them that has to be overcome. Effectively, it’s being used as an obstacle for their already existent love. Which is neither a subversion of that trope nor a use of it. It’s in its own category.

I think the more relevant argument is over whether or not the series actually gains something from this being a rape scene that it couldn’t have gained through some other kind of obstacle coming between them. Honestly, I’m not sure if anything else would have done all of the things for the series that the rape scene does. Narratively, it creates a pretty large obstacle betwixt the two and, narratively, X needs to do something to Y directly as opposed to trying to get Y to hate them by doing something to someone else. That being said, the handling could certainly be better. Part of the issue is just the length. To reiterate, Kannazuki no Miko only has twelve episodes. So, when the rape happens more than halfway through, Y has to be able to emotionally recover from it unnaturally quickly for the progression of their relationship with X and the continuation of the plot. Maybe there’s more time devoted to the recovery in the manga, although it only has two volumes so that seems unlikely, but it’s certainly an issue in the anime. So, I’m a bit torn on the issue of whether the rape scene’s narrative purposes are balanced out by the handling of it. Whether or not it ultimately works is a highly contentious matter.

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Characters:

The biggest weakness with the characters comes from the antagonists. We have seven Orochi, not counting Souma and, though the series touches on the back stories for all of them, they really aren’t developed characters. As a group, their basic shtick can be summed up as “bad things happened in their lives that led them to resent the world.” Which is odd considering that Souma has very little reason to resent the world nor does he really seem to. So, is it just a coincidence that most of these people suffered significantly with the Orochi being pre-determined or does Souma actually hate most people & things but the series just doesn’t feel that that’s pertinent information?

Our three major characters, Himeko, Chikane & Souma are, in all fairness, quite interesting. They get fleshed out quite a bit and we see them develop over the course of the series. With the side characters, there are some good ones that possess verisimilitude and there are others that are more one-note, but there really aren’t any terribly written or annoying characters.

Art:

The art is good in this. The character designs are varied and interesting. The mecha look good and the animation is pretty smooth. The backgrounds are nicely detailed all around. My only major issue with it is that a lot of the mecha fights are kind of boring. Souma and his opponent will batter each other for thirty seconds. He’ll us a special attack and it’s all over or he’ll get ensnared by something, there’ll be some dialogue, he’ll break free and then end it really quickly. This is not how you do dynamic action sequences. Oddly enough, the non-mecha action sequences tend to be a lot more varied, fast-paced and visually interesting.

Sound:

The vocal cast in this is great. Kawasumi Ayako, Shitaya Noriko & Majima Junji particularly. Even the antagonistic characters are well acted. The music is really good Kubota Mina, who also worked on music in the Aria franchise & Sasameki Koto does a really good job.

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Ho-yay:

There is a lot. In addition to the major elements between Chikane and Himeko, which are mostly pretty strong, Chikane has fan girls and her maid, Otoha, is heavily implied to have romantic feelings for her.

Final Thoughts:

There’s a lot to admire about Kannazuki no Miko. It maintains a narrative that is, in many substantial ways, suspenseful from beginning to end. It has some strong major characters. Great art, acting and music. Its biggest flaw is that it really needed more time to develop its ideas and antagonists. The controversy is something I have mixed feelings to as well and, due to the content, it’s certainly not for everyone. Still, for me the factors that work are strong enough that I’ll give it a solid 8/10. Next week is Valentine’s, so I’m going to look at something romance focused. Gravitation.

Overlord: It offers potential

Overlord is based on a series of light novels by Maruyama Kugane. The anime version came out last year and was produced by Madhouse. Going into this one, about all I know is the basic premise and that opinions are a bit divided on the series. So, let’s take a look and I’ll put in my pfennig.

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Story:

In the distant future, virtual reality gaming is a thing and it’s given rise to a new breed of MMORPGs, which allow the users to immerse themselves in the game worlds. Our story takes place with a popular game, Yggdrasil, entering the end of its life-span and shutting down its servers.In spite of having strong tech to back it up it was published by EA so it was only a matter of time before terrible business practices did it in. That is my head canon explanation for that. Anyway, on the last day of the servers running, Momonga, a man with no life, is reflecting on all the good times he had with his guild mates before they quit playing. He watches the clock tick down but stays online, determined to enjoy the game until the last moment. The day finally rolls over and, much to his surprise, he’s still in the game. Not only that, but the NPCs that he and his former comrades made are displaying personalities and Nazarick, his guild base, has been transported into unfamiliar territory that still seems to follow game logic.

This opens up a lot of interesting story possibilities about how this happened and what’s happening with Momonga’s body. Is this still a game that his brain has somehow become trapped in, has he just lost his mind and been lost in delusions of the only thing he cares about or is it some kind of other dimension, one that he unwittingly helped create, that he was able to cross into? There are so many possibilities. The series then proceeds to toss that little plot point to the wayside and not really bring it up. Well, that seems a waste. But it’s fine, there’s another compelling story angle they could go with here, since Momonga and his NPC comrades are all monsters of various kinds. Stories about antagonists and/or beastly groups can be really good. Except that they don’t really do anything with that either. About the biggest impact it has is that they present themselves as humans and do some things that are semi-villainous. But that’s fine too. The NPCs keep bringing up the way they were created by Momonga’s comrades and that could be a really interesting angle from a philosophical standpoint & from a narrative, “how exactly is this working?” stand point. Except that they don’t do anything with that either. How do you have elements that could lead to three different strong stories and not take advantage of any of them?

That may be the biggest flaw with the series. It doesn’t properly take advantage of any of its potentially fascinating story ideas. The second biggest issue is a matter of tension. It’s established early on that Momonga is absurdly powerful when compared to the people/NPCs of this world. Not only that, but it’s established that he has ways to resurrect people who die. Which means that there’s no reason for us, as the audience, to be concerned about him or the other major characters.

That being said, there are some areas where I will give the series credit. The world building is quite good and, to be completely fair, they’re clearly setting up for a sequel so it’s entirely possible that the more compelling aspects of the story do get better built on in the later material. As such, I can’t really fault the series for prioritising the world building in the early stuff. Of course, that’s also assuming that they do give us more of the interesting aspects. I haven’t read the light novels so, for all I know, they may still be unaddressed after nine volumes.

Characters:

The characters are pretty under-developed in this. On one hand, you can somewhat understand it since this series focuses on the world building. However, we really need strong characters in a series like this where the main protagonist is so over-powered. We need compelling characters to keep our interest and all this series gives us is characters who might become interesting at some point.

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Art:

The art is actually pretty strong with creative designs for a lot of Nazarick’s guardians and action sequences that are really good. There are some designs that are quite typical, but it also makes sense given the context.

Sound:

The voice acting is pretty passable but also standard. Hino Satoshi’s performance as the lich, Momonga, is a bit odd and seems out of place. However, he’s also a regular person in a video game skin. As such it works to have his voice be a bit out of place for the character. The music is pretty good.

Ho-yay:

The series doesn’t really have any ho-yay.

Final Thoughts:

What Overlord ultimately gives us is potential. There’s potential for a compelling narrative. There’s the potential for interesting characters. As the first series in a longer franchise, it’s not a bad introduction. That being said, the series also isn’t good. Maybe if it gets renewed for a second series, that one will be. As is, it’s pretty mundane. The main protagonist is too powerful for the series to have any real tension. The good ideas haven’t been developed, nor have the characters and the voice acting is just standard. Overall, I give it a 5/10. Next week, I’ll take a look at Kannazuki no Miko.

Futari wa Precure: Max Heart: Surely, the most pointful of all sequels

Last year one of the magical girl anime I looked at was Futari wa Precure, the first in Toei Animation’s long-running Precure franchise. It was a strong start with endearing characters, a lot of good moments and strong, surprisingly physical fight scenes. Unlike many magical girl works, Precure believes in having their characters kick and punch instead of just tossing out stock animation special attacks. It also had a pretty strong ending that wrapped everything up. Which makes today’s material a little odd. Futari wa Precure: Max Heart is a direct sequel with the same characters, one of the only series of its like in the franchise. So, do they have something interesting for Honoka & Nagisa to do?

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Story:

After the events of the first series, Honoka and Nagisa have entered High School. It’s t this point where Honoka notices some feelings starting to well up, but she’s afraid to act on them since Nagisa hasn’t shown interest in girls like that. Thus begins their sweet and sublime love story.

Okay, so that doesn’t happen. The actual story takes place with the two of them in their last year of junior high. They’re living normal lives in the wake of the Dark King’s defeat. Unbeknownst to them, the Queen was critically wounded during their battle. She loses her cohesion, splitting into her life, her heart and her wills which take the form of tiny fairies called Heartiels. To make matters worse, the two heroines find themselves under attack by a new band of villains, Shampoo Advert, Moustache, Chin & Female. This time around they also have help, in the form of Shiny Luminous, Mai. In that fashion, Honoka, Nagisa & Saki find themselves in a race against time to find all the aspects of the Queen before their antagonistic foursome can bring back the Dark King.

Let’s start by looking at the big issue with the series as a whole. There’s way too much of a focus on Nozomi and Pollun. He’s as obnoxious as he was in the last series, except now there’s a lot more of him, and she’s just boring. Consequently, all of the emphasis on the two of them is tedious at best. Aside from that, the series just feels pointless. They’re back to fight the same big bad with the same major attack, except powered up while working towards gathering the pieces they need to get the same resolution. How very exciting for all of us.

On the positive side, there are still some strong moments, particularly when Urara stays on the sidelines and lets Nagisa & Honoka do their thing, and there are still some remnants of the good humour and generally entertaining moments that made the first series work. They’re just not nearly as prevalent or as strong.

Characters:

Nagisa and Honoka are still really good characters and there are a lot of colourful and endearing personalities from our reoccurring side cast. Unfortunately, most of them have much more limited roles in this series. That being said, there are a lot of issues with the new characters. I’ve already mentioned how dreadfully dull Karen is, and how obnoxious Pollun is, so let’s look at some of our other major characters. Our antagonists in this series, Shampoo Advert, Moustache, Chin & Female, are really one-dimensional. The Heartiels are also really dull. Although, in their case there is some reason behind it. Each one is supposed to represent one aspect of the Queen’s still non-existent personality. I guess it was easier to imply that she has these traits than it was to actually show her use any of them ever. We’re also introduced to Pollun’s sister, Lulun. She has all of the characteristics that make him such a nuisance, but she’s actually less annoying to me due to the simple fact that the one who suffers the most from it is Pollun and it’s a bit cathartic to see him get a taste of his own obnoxiousness.

Art:

The art isn’t as strong as the first series, oddly enough. It still has creative monster designs, although fairly bland designs for the main four villains. It’s action sequences aren’t as strong either. There are still some really good action sequences, particularly during the climax. The punches, kicks and grapples get used, especially in those stronger scenes, but they’re downplayed in this one. Komachi doesn’t even bother with them. She either uses special attacks or, at one point, she lets the light coming from her device deflect attacks while she just holds it up like an idiot. Speaking of Luminous, there’s also the issue of Rin’s facial expressions. With the other characters, they’re allowed to display a wide range of emotions. With her, most of the time she just has a blank look or an expression of dull surprise. It’s almost like the animators wanted to capture her lack of personality.

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Sound:

The strongest performances in this come, like the last series, from Honna Youko & Yukana. Ikezawa Haruna and, to a lesser degree, Tanii Asuka are the big weaknesses. To be fair to them, they did get cast as the annoyances and I doubt anyone could make those characters sound pleasant or emotionally complex. Even if they’d had Ishida Akira & Hayashibara Megumi voicing them they’d almost certainly still be cacophonous. To be fair, most of the actors sound fine. There are some, like Tanaka Rie, who sound like they’re not trying but I’m almost certain that’s a result of their characters having less emotional depth than your average paper-clip. The music is still good although, in some cases, a bit lazy. The opening theme is seriously just a remix of the opening from the first series.

Ho-yay:

The les-yay isn’t as strong in this series as it was in the first. Primarily because Setsuna acts as a third wheel, showing up whenever Honoka and Nagisa are having a moment and ruining the whole thing.

Final Thoughts:

Futari wa Precure: Max Heart is a pretty underwhelming sequel. While it isn’t bad and it does retain some of the good aspects of the first series, it also gets encumbered with a lot of pointlessness and suffers from adding a whole lot of trite characters with the most egregious being Miki. Yuru Yuri likes to joke about Akari’s lack of presence, but that girl is so unbelievably boring I’m not sure I even got her name right. It also suffers from excessive use of Pollun. All in all, I think the annoying moments and the good moments even out pretty well. In the end, I give it a 5/10. It’s an average series. Next week it’s Overlord.

How romance with young characters can work

just recently, I reviewed the bland film, Whisper of the Heart. My biggest issue with it was the overblown, zero chemistry, romance between Shizuku and Seiji. That whole thing got me thinking, what exactly makes a romance with younger characters work? For comparison purposes, let’s compare their weak romance to the really strong romance between Nanoha and Fate, specifically in the first two series when they’re still pre-pubescent.

After giving it some thought, I’ve come up with three significant factors that make Nanoha and Fate’s relationship work that aren’t present in Shizuku and Seij’s. The first of those is that they have obstacles to overcome together. In Whisper of the Heart, the two both have their own obstacles. Shizuku has to find her calling and immerse herself in it while Seiji has to deal with his parent’s objections to his learning how to make violins. The two go off on their own ways. As such, there’s no opportunity for them to develop their bonds.

In the first Nanoha series, Nanoha struggles to save Fate from her abusive mother, eventually culminating in the two of them working together to stop her plans. In the second, the two work together to stop the book of darkness. In sharing a conflict and aiding one another, we get to see their relationship strengthen and develop.

The second major factor is that the early Nanoha series don’t focus on their relationship as a “serious” romance. Rather, they put the emphasis on it as an innocent, blossoming love. There’s no talk of marriage nor does the series act like this is totally a grown up and adult relationship between two kids who just met. You can tell that Nanoha and Fate are attracted to each other and that they have a lot of chemistry, but you can also tell that their feelings are a bit naive and they don’t know what to do with them yet. Which gives them a much stronger and more believable relationship. You can buy that the two of them might eventually come together as a couple, adopt a child and have a lasting relationship. Once they’re older and they’re ready.

In contrast, Whisper of the Heart tries to persuade us that this is already a serious relationship and, ironically, that makes it seem more trivial since you just shake your head and think “whatever, Kids. You just met and you’ve barely started puberty. I’m sure that you completely understand what a serious romantic relationship is.”

The third major aspect that works in Nanoha and Fate’s favour is that they develop as friends first. Sure, even when they’re becoming friends you can tell that they’re completely smitten, but the fact that they start as friends and build from there seems natural and it lets the first two series focus on building their relationship without stressing the romantic chemistry but, rather, illustrate their strong relationship as a friendship with strong potential for more. We get an arc for the two of them that goes from first crush and fast friends to close friends with a strong attraction to, when they’re actually adults, a couple with an adopted daughter.

Obviously, Whisper of the Heart doesn’t have multiple series to do that much. So, let’s look at the arc we do get for Shizuku and Seiji. They meet, she thinks he’s a jerk and then… couple. Somehow. The point here is, we never really get to see them as friends, which only reinforces the idea that they’re a pair of dumb kids who will be broken up in a couple months at most.

So, there you have it. Three things that can make a young romance actually work. If you have anything to add, feel that I was too harsh on Whisper of the Heart or just have something to say feel free to post a comment.

Whisper of the Heart: Junior High romance is serious and very, very slow

I’ve reviewed a lot of Studio Ghibli films. In January of 2014, one of those films was The Cat Returns. During that review, I mentioned that it’s a spin-off loosely connected to this film, Whisper of the Heart. Now, that film was pretty good with plenty of strong elements. Let’s look at Whisper of the Heart and see if the same holds true for it.

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Story:

Shizuku has a pretty easy life. Her parents are easy-going and she has plenty of friends and lots of time to read obsessively. One day, she notices that all of the books she gets from the library seem to have been checked out by the same guy before her. She’s curious about what he could be like and, by sheer coincidence, meets a guy she doesn’t know. I’m sure these two plot points are completely unrelated. The film follows Shizuku in her daily life with the focus on two major facets, her budding romantic interest in the boy she barely knows and her coming of age and learning what she wants to do and trying her hardest to follow it.

The biggest flaw with the film is the romance aspect. Our two leads are still in their pubescent stage and, frankly, they have about as much chemistry as Argon has with anything. Yet the narrative treats their barely started relationship as important and serious. I give them a couple months together at most before they break up. The coming of age element, however, is pretty well done and it elegantly illustrates what it’s like for someone to discover their passion and immerse herself in it. Aside from those two elements, the film is pretty tedious with very little of interest happening. Honestly, it can be really mind-numbing to slog through.

Characters:

The characters in the film vary. Some of them are quite dull, having only a really basic purpose to fill before being banished to wherever trite characters go when they’ve done their bit. Shizuku is a pretty fleshed out and developed character. I will say, most of the characters have enough to them to have verisimilitude, even if they don’t ultimately contribute to the narrative all that much.

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Art:

The artwork and animation are the best aspects of the film. Both are really well done in classic Ghibli fashion. So, if nothing else it is a very pretty, nicely detailed film.

Sound:

The vocal cast and music are both pretty middling. They’re passable, but not good. The stand out performance has to be from Honna Youko, who is coincidentally going to be featured in next week’s series too. She does do a really good job, but you also have actors like Tachibana Takashi who just sound bored. The music is fine, unless you really love or hate the song Country Road. Which does get a bit over-used and could start to wear on your nerves, especially if you aren’t kindly disposed towards it to begin with.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any in this film.

Final Thoughts:

Whisper of the Heart is not a good film. It isn’t bad either. It’s just a film with a dull narrative, bland characters and excellent artwork. If you really like slow slice of life works, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, I can’t really recommend it. Especially when Studio Ghibli has so many really strong films that are filled with intrigue and adventure. My final rating is going to be a 5/10. So, this month we’ve looked at Nuku Nuku Dash in honour of Hyashibara Megumi month, Yuru Yuri San Hai in honour of yuri month and now this in honour of Ghibli month. Next week we harken back to last year’s magical girl month with a look at Futari wa Precure: Max Heart.

Q&A with Ktulu

Okay, here’s the deal. Miss Dana over at Crimson Daylight nominated me for the Liebster award ten days ago. If you aren’t familiar with her, she primarily posts book reviews. So, you can check her blog if you’re interested in that. I’m going to ignore the chain letter aspects of the Liebster award and just answer her questions and post eleven random facts. If you really want me to ask you a series of questions, or if you have questions for me, feel free to post a comment. Like the last time I did this, I’m going to give snarky answers followed by the actual, legitimate answers. Dana, I hope you aren’t offended by my cavalier attitude towards the Liebster award.

Question 1:

Favourite supernatural creature?

I’m going to say Reptoids because the mythos surrounding them is hilariously stupid.

In all seriousness, and I know this may seem cliché from someone who reviews anime, I like Kitsune. The whole concept of hyper intelligent fox spirits who can take on the illusion of humanity is really interesting to me.

Question 2:

Favourite characteristic about yourself?

My epic red beard. This thing goes down to my chest.

Honestly, this one is tough because I don’t really like to praise myself, but I would have to say either my intellect or my creativity. Those are the facets of myself that I would most admire in someone else and they’re also the aspects of my personality that I would absolutely not be myself without.

Question 3:

Least favourite characteristic about yourself?

My nose. It is really large.

If I’m being honest, the biggest thing I don’t like about myself is that I tend to fixate on things, particularly when they’re outside of my control, to the point where they plague my mind and it’s a real problem for me to let them go.

Question 4:

What’s the type of character (in books, films etc) that you absolutely cannot stand?

The generic love interest. Sitting there being all generic.

In all seriousness, as annoying as the generic love interest can be, I’d have to pick the Frank Miller style hero for this one. You know, the macho man who acts like a dick towards everyone, frequently in racist and misogynistic ways, (but it’s treated as okay because he’s always right), monologues to himself and just acts like an unpleasant, self-righteous arsehole.

Question 5:

Dogs or cats?

Whichever one is better with sauerkraut.

No, I would never eat a dog. In my opinion, dogs are much cuter, make better companions and I would vastly prefer them to cats.

Question 6:

How would you choose to spend a lazy day?

The same way I spend every day, Pinkie. Try and take over the world!

Honestly, I’d prefer to work on my writing but I’d probably also spend some time reading, watching anime and with my games.

Question 7:

The last thing you watched on TV?

People still use TVs to watch things?

You know what, I’m just going to count watching TV shows using the Internet. In which case, I watched some Doctor Who yesterday. To be specific, I watched a reconstruction of The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve. 

Question 8:

Favourite Harry Potter character?

The one from Hufflepuff.

Honestly, and I know that some people are going to get mad about this, I don’t care about Harry Potter. And I mean at all. Maybe I was too old for it when it came out and I’d just seen all the tropes it uses used before and better, but I never got into it.

Question 9:

How would you kill your arch enemy?

*shifty look* What are you a cop?

being completely seriousness, I would only kill someone to protect myself or someone else. Even then I’d probably try to severely wound if possible. So, the answer would be by accidentally hitting him too hard/hitting a vital area when trying to protect myself or someone else.

Question 10:

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Tim Curry films.

Honestly, I don’t have anything I like that I feel guilty over. Even when it’s a cheesy film starring Tim Curry or an IDW comic about cartoon ponies. Maybe I just lack shame or maybe I realise that there’s nothing wrong with liking something just because some people don’t or because I’m not part of its target audience.

Question 11:

The most embarrassing thing you’ve done (that you’re willing to share)?

I played Kingdom Hearts for a whole hour before I noticed how bad the story and characterisation were.

Actually, this is a tough one. I usually over-think things, so I don’t really do  a lot of things that end up being embarrassing. I guess I would have to say that it was the time, during my teenage years, that I miss-spoke and introduced my step-father as my father in law.

On to the eleven random facts about me (I can’t remember what I put down the last time I did this, so there may be some overlap):

  1. I have the Fourth Doctor’s scarf and sonic screwdriver.

2. I’ve spent more time on Fire Emblem Awakening than any other 3DS game

3. I sometimes act like I’ve prematurely gone senile to avoid dealing with annoying people.

4. I refer to grim and gritty stuff done well as Mooreish and grim and gritty stuff done badly as Milleresque.

5. During my University days, I once missed classes because I got caught up playing KOTOR and completely lost track of time.

6. I leave the spiders in my apartment alone.

7. Sometimes, I read bad fanfiction for the sole purpose of mocking it.

8. I’ll read a book a week.

9. I learned many moral lessons from Captain Picard.

10. I consider Vicki, from Will Hartnell’s run, the first great Doctor Who companion.

11. I sometimes buy clothing items to dress up my dog for pictures.

I guess that’s everything for today. Thank you, Dana, for the questions.

Yuru Yuri San Hai: More Quirky Les-yay

Namori’s Yuru Yuri has had two fairly strong series from Dogakobo. My biggest issue with the second was the overuse of Akane and her single unfunny joke. From early October to late December of last year, there was a third series, this one from TYO Animations. Yuru Yuri San Hai. Does the studio transition work to the series’ favour?

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Story:

Like the other two series, San Hai doesn’t have much in terms of a narrative. A group of junior high girls go about their everyday lives having quirky, and highly Sapphic, fun. It’s primarily a comedic work so the question we have to ask is how well does the comedy fare in this one?

My biggest issue is with Akane, again. We get it, she has incestuous feelings for her little sister. It’s really not funny. It was funny the first time when you used it for a horror parody. Ever since then it hasn’t been funny, it’s just been an unnecessarily creepy element in a light-hearted comedic work. To be fair, though, her role is downplayed in this series and the stuff with her and Tomoko is actually pretty decent. Aside from that, the series is really entertaining with a lot of strong comedic and cute moments. One of the interesting things they do is emphasise the interactions between characters who haven’t had much, if any, time together and it actually works really well, demonstrating a fuller range of comedic possibilities with the set up they have. Overall, the comedy almost always works well and it is quite charming.

Characters:

The cast of characters in Yuru Yuri isn’t the most complex. However, they are largely charming and they have good interactions for comedic purposes. Sakurako is probably the strongest in this particular series since a lot of the funniest moments, and some of the cutest, revolve around her. Ayano also gets a lot of strong scenes in this one.

Art:

The artwork is bright, vibrant and suits the series well. TYO does a good job of replicating the look of the prior series and backs it up with solid animation.

Sound:

The cast remains a strong point of the series. Ootsubo Yuka, Mikami Shiori, Tsuda Minami, Ookubo Rumi, Mimori Suzuko, Katou Emiri and the other actresses all deliver strong performances. The music is really good too and suits the series well.

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Ho-Yay:

There are a lot of cute yuri scenes. Chinatsu’s crush on Yui is still a big thing. Kyouko is still flirting with all the girls. Ayano and Kyouko get some really good scenes. Sakurako and Himawari get a couple good moments of their own. Chitose’s fantasies are as vivid as always. About the biggest addition to this series, in terms of yuri, is that Chizuru gets some scenes with her classmates. The girls in this are homo-erotic that I think it may be heading for a future where they’ve started a poly-amorous coven. I can’t decide whether that would be the greatest or the dumbest sequel of all time. Given the franchise as a whole and its atmosphere, I’m leaning more towards the former. 

Final Thoughts:

Yuru Yuri San Hai is an entertaining series with a lot of charm and endearing characters. My one complaint about the series is only really a major problem in one episode. All in all, I think it’s the best instalment of the franchise thus far. Overall, I give it a 9/10. Next week I’ll take a look at Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart.