Initial Results: Revolutionary Girl Utena

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I have spent a lot time thinking about this series, not because I have any real connection to it myself, but rather because of how widespread its influence seems to be. Not only have I heard this show cited in a number of video essays, even ones not about anime, but but also from western creators of other animated series, like Rebecca Sugar of Steven Universe/Adventure Time, and Michael Dante Dimartino, one of the creators behind Avatar: the Last Airbender.

Seeing as how my journey with Wolf’s Rain came to a close not too long ago, I figured it a good a time as any to get back into another relatively older series. After all, given its influence within the medium of animation, its worth at least having as a point of reference, right? So, after the first six episodes of the series, here are a few of my thoughts.

I will say this first because it has nothing to do with the quality of the series, but the modern anime season really made me forget that series did not have to be 12 or 24 episodes, and could literally just be however long is needed to have a satisfying conclusion. Seeing 39 episodes for this series really threw me for a loop is all.

Now, as for the series itself, there is certainly a lot to like. I have never been overly crazy about the aesthetic of a lot of 80s or 90s anime series, but Revolutionary Girl Utena is one I can get behind. A lot of the colors are fiery and bright, including those on the members of the student council. The overall vibe of the school is very regal and upper-class, showcasing very intricate designs on the outfits of its primary cast, which itself begs the question of why any of the main characters are there to begin with.

Speaking of, Utena and Anthy, the show’s lead characters, offer a nice contrast both in personality and design. Utena takes on a more masculine role, subverting the the damsel in distress trope by vowing in the series intro to become a prince herself, though she does say specifically that this desire still exists within her own identity as a girl. Anthy, meanwhile is apparently what is known as the “rose bride,” who will help “revolutionize the world.” At this point, all of that still feels a bit esoteric and clouded in mystery, which is appropriate because Anthy herself feels much the same way, opting to take a more passive role in the opening episodes.

The two have yet to build a ton of chemistry, other than the fact that they just look cute together. I suspect, though, that will come with time, as the series is divided into four main arcs, of which I am barely halfway into the first. It will be interesting to see both how the contrast in their personalities is shown, and how that contrast will then affect their relationship.

Series creator Kuniko Ikuhara has been praised not only for his work on this series, but also for his previous work on Sailor Moon, as well as a number of other projects later on the in the 2010s. It is clear even from the show’s opening episodes that there is a strong creative drive that went into Revolutionary Girl Utena as a series.

While I cannot say my my attention has been fully retained at every point so far, the show is fascinating, and I do want to see where it ends up. So yeah, I will probably keep watching.


Have you seen Revolutionary Girl Utena? Maybe not? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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What I’m (Probably) Watching for Fall 2022

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I know, I know, it is a bit early to be talking about fall, but honestly, I had nothing planned for this week other than maybe talking about Revolutionary Girl Utena, but might as well save that until a bit more progress is made.

While I am still mostly excited for this season, part of me is also not. Most of this is to do with the fact that I am graduating this semester which has brought with it another set of problems, but also because I was hoping to find something a bit more under the radar this season, but that does not seem to be the case. With that being said, though, here is what I am probably watching for fall 2022.

Chainsaw Man

I think it would be a mistake for anyone, including myself to miss out on what could potentially be one of the better adaptations in recentl history. It is clear based on the names attached to the series and the absolutely gorgeous trailers that Chainsaw Man has the potential. The question now is whether those working on the series can follow through.

Mappa has often been a source of inconsistency when it comes to the quality of shows they put out, but their recent offerings, including Jujutsu Kaisen and the latest season of Attack on Titan have inspired a lot of confidence. If Chainsaw Man is even a fraction as good as those series, than their will definitely be something worth looking forward to.

Spy x Family Part 2

Me, watching the other most popular show of the season, whaaaaaat? Listen, can you really blame me for wanting to finish one of the most consistently entertaining series to come out in the last few years? Spy x Family not only has a killler premise and great characters, but consistently executed on them for all of its first part. There is not really much else to say other than that I look forward to another amazing bit of this show.

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Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War

Bleach will always have a special place in my heart as one of the first anime I watched that I truly recognized as anime. It, and Fullmetal Alchemist, were also the first anime series recommended to me by a close friend. However, as the years have gone on my interest in seeing Bleach continued slowly decreased, not because my opinion of it changed significantly, but rather because some many other blips have popped up on my metaphorically radar that I could kind of live without it. Still, I am happy to see the series get the resolution it rightfully deserves. Also, I know this is a pretty big arc, so chances are if I do not watch it now it will be gone from my mind forever.

My Hero Academia Season 6

I know people like to project the incredibly strange fandom onto the actually quality of this show a lot, but it honestly remains a pretty enjoyable series. Certainly not the best thing since sliced bread, but good enough that I would be disappointed if it did not conclude, especially after season five. The stakes in My Hero have always been relatively high, but scale of the fights has larger and more interesting, and even the league of villains has turned out to be much more than stereotypically evil people doing evil things.

Now would be the part where I talk about Golden Kamuy season four and how most of what I am watching this season is just sequels, except that the chances of me actually finishing the series in time to watch season four are pretty low. It sucks, too, because Golden Kamuy is one of those shows that feels like it does not get enough attention for how good it is, but unfortunately I just do not have the time to do all of that while also covering the other stuff I want to.


So yeah, that is what I am (probably) watching for the upcoming season. There is always the chance I pick up one thing or drop something on this list, but we will just have to see.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Nine

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Welcome back, everyone, to another edition of our weekly seasonal review, where this week showed a lot of promise, but also some lows that were maybe a bit lower than last week. With that being said, let us get started.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 8

Honestly, I was expecting a bit of a change of pace after the way the last episode ended, but it appears the series is still on a temporary job arc. Seeing as how McRonalds is still under repair, the boys accept an offer to work on Chiho’s family farm, accept that Emi and Suzuno have brought Alas Ramus and are ready to work with them.

This episode was…fine. I appreciate the attempt this season to seriously question the nature of Emi and Maou’s relationship, given the events that have already transpired. Sure, they have to take care of a kid, but that by no means negates what their relationship was previously. On top of that, Chiho still has to deal with the fact that they are both literally from another world and are always going to be at odds. Not particularly amazing, but not especially bad either.

RWBY: Ice Queendom Ep. 10

I usually try to be polite, but sometimes that is really hard because when I talked about lower low points, I definitely meant this show. Time is of the essence, and with the chances of rescuing Weiss becoming slimmer than ever, Blake resorts to a dangerous plan: infecting herself with the nightmare and using its power to fight negative Weiss.

Honestly, my complaints have not changed much from episode to episode, as the weakest and most obviously bad part of Ice Queendom continues to be the series’ animation. Some look incredibly well coordinated and movie-esk, while others look like the work of one animator who was given an hour’s notice. This is not to say that the results are the fault of any individual in a literal sense, but the inconsistency is notable because of how obvious it is.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 10

Am I ready to admit this show is good yet? no, I think I will just wait and see how they wrap it up first. While Chisato is saying her goodbyes and coming to peace with herself, Takina is engaged on the mission to catch Majima, while herself looking for answers to where Yoshimatsu could be hiding.

Look, it is not like I am saying Lycoris Recoil is bad, far from it. However, where RWBY has a problem with inconsistent animation, this series has had some real ups and downs in its story. So much about the world just feels poorly explained or underutilized. To its credit, this episode did do some much-needed addressing of the show’s underlying philosophy, with Majima arguing with the head of the DA about why the organization should even exist. After all, it operates with seemingly no accountability to any other form of government. Idk, something worth thinking about in there.

Call of the Night Ep. 9

Things are certainly heating up this week, especially for what I would still consider the two best shows on this list. Though their relationship has been…strange up until this point, Kou decides to spend some time with Seri, noticing that she seems to be bothered by something. This turns out to be the case, as one of her stalkers shows up at their karaoke bar, and Kou has to stop her from killing him.

This was definitely not the episode I expected this week, especially after the reveal at the end of the last episode. Yet, It still managed to be emotionally engaging, just in a very different way. Seri, who exists as a vampire, has for a long time only been able to look at relationships with humans through the lens of romance, which for her has become tiring.

She is introduced just a few episodes earlier as a foil to Nazuna, and yet the two seem to have a lot more in common than what the series lets on. Giving the stalker dude a happy ending was maybe a little bit questionable, but it seems like even he had a similar problem to Seri, in that he was only able to view his relationship with her through romance. So, from that perspective, it at least makes sense.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 9

Have I mentioned that I like this arc a lot? While it certainly has its share of stomach-turning moments, even those have contributed to a world that feels even more its own now compared to just the first season. While Riko finishes learning about the secrets of the village from Vueko, Reg brings home one of Faputa’s limbs because…ok imma be honest I already forgot the reason. Regardless, a monster appears to protect the village, and Reg has to blast a hole in the wall to kill it, letting Faputa come inside.

That ending…sheesh. Granted, it was heavily implied over the last few episodes, but that does not make it any less exciting. Though, exciting feels like a weirdly inappropriate word what is at stake in this story. After all, the literal child of a living village is taking revenge on its inhabitants for abusing said mother in order to survive. It is heavy, but in a way that makes total sense given the events that have transpired. It is a conclusion I do not want to miss.


What are your thoughts on the shows this season? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Sports and Romance in Blue Box

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I feel like this is cheating since I briefly talked about Blue Box in a secondary findings post a while back, but I actually managed to catch up all the way, which as of the writing of this post is chapter 65.

For those who are still uninitiated with this manga, allow me a brief summary. Taiki is a freshman badminton player who has found himself crushing on his basketball player senpai Chinatsu because they see each other every morning before their respective practices in the gym. Upon learning that she will be moving abroad and thus will not be able to compete in her final year of basketball, Taiki works up the courage to tell her to do what she wants, and not what is dictated by her parents. Chinatsu then ambushes him with the fact that she actually is not moving, and is instead staying with a family friend. Except, that family friend is actually Taiki’s mom, and so the two begin to live together.

Whereas most authors would take that setup, let harem shenanigans ensue, and then promptly cash their checks, Koji Miura has taken a different approach. Well, I say different, but in reality, it is much more standard fair, just done really well.

Romantic comedy and sports is a weird cross-section that I have never taken much time to explore. Like, there have always been elements of it in other shows, with one character centering the sports activities because they themselves are on a team (see Lovely Complex) but I honestly cannot say much for shows where the sports and the budding romantic relationships between those players take center stage. Luckily. Blue Box manages to capitalize on this fusion in a way that, while definitely nothing innovative, is great in execution.

What strikes me the most about this series right off the bat is just how unassuming it tends to be. Taiki, for all his teenage gawking at Chinatsu, never puts his own feelings above hers, and Chinatsu is much the same way. The two very obviously develop feelings for each other, and yet they do basically nothing aside from exchanging some witty dialogue and a few awkward glances. However, where a lot of series would chalk this up to just teenage awkwardness, Blue Box subverts this trope with its focus on sports. The whole reason Chinatsu ends up staying in the first place is so she can finish school and her last two years of basketball, and part of why the two even find each other attractive to begin with is their willingness to dedicate themselves to their sports. Where characters in other high school romances get lost in their aloofness and unwillingness to admit their feelings, Taiki, Chinatsu, and to a lesser extent Hina, are much more focused on accomplishing their own goals.

I was initially going to put the word sports in huge, sarcastic quotations in the title of this post because my impression of this series is that sports were just a mechanism for having these characters meet at specific times and locations and miss each other at different times and locations. That is wrong, though. The matches and competitions that our main characters take part in are exciting and well drawn. Still, sports also serve an important thematic role, one that teaches the ideas of patience, hard work, and dedication, things that are necessary for a healthy romantic relationship. We even see this reiterated in Haryuu’s relationship with his girlfriend Karen later on in the story, which is seemingly built on the idea of putting their own pursuits ahead of their relationship, a sentiment that has become increasingly popular with younger generations.

Despite the fact that I just complimented two of them, If I could point to anywhere this has maybe been lackluster so far, it would probably be in its side characters. Kyou is probably the most immediate example of this, as his role for most of the story thus far has been one of an observer. Rarely does he intervene in any conflict, and oftentimes he is just a mediator between Taiki and Hina. Recently chapters have given him a bit more development, and even hinted at his own romantic feelings for Hina, but he still feels like an afterthought in most cases. I feel like it would have been more interesting to get a bit of backstory on the relationship between Taiki and Chinatsu’s mother at this point, but at the same time, the series is also not over yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.

So, yeah, go read it. Why are you still here?


You can tell I really mean it because I even went through the trouble of avoiding major spoilers (partly because I am also incredibly tired this week, but that is less important). Have you read this series already, though? What are your thoughts? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog and being incredibly awesome.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Eight

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Apologies again for the delay folks. Sometimes you just get tired, crack open a couple of drinks and then decide it is a bit too late to finish a post. It has certainly been a week for me, but it is also been a week for summer 2022. With that being said, let us get started.

RWBY: Ice Queendom Eps. 8-9

My opinion on RWBY has gone up and down quite a bit, but these last couple of episodes have been all around really good. The rest of the gang plus Jaune are still fighting, but once again fail to destroy the nightmare. Still trapped inside the dream, Ruby is forced to deal with her own nightmare while Blake and Yang are banished from inside the city to someplace much darker.

The scenes that involve Ruby’s dream within a dream are a real awakening into her character. They visualize her worst insecurities in a way that almost feels genuinely horrifying in a way that feels similar, but maybe slightly more hopeless than even “Congratulations, Shinji” did for Evangelion. Even more central, though, is Weiss’ internal struggle, which is also well done. Even in this dreamt-up city, there is a visible sense of collapse and decay which furthers episode to episode. Still a lot of potential, but I will wait to hand out any more praise.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 7

While I certainly understand and agree with some of the criticisms surrounding this show’s second season, there is still a good bit of fun to be had with The Devil is a Part-Timer, and this episode shows that its focus on narrative doesn’t have to be boring. Maou and friends fight off a demon army only to find out from its commander that Olba has been working with Hell, after which Maou and the others promptly send them back alongside birdman, but not before finding out their temporary boss is incredibly powerful. She then disappears in order to protect the ghosts which inhabit the beach, leaving everyone incredibly confused.

How does Amane have a sword made of Maou’s missing horn? Why is it suddenly canon that their landlord knows about Maou literally being the devil? IDK. Is it possible I am forgetting something incredibly important? Possibly. Again, a more narratively focused season is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean the show has to operate at a much faster pace if it wants to maintain any forward momentum.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 9

I really wanted to say that this show was bad, or maybe even just “mid,” as the kids say. Much like Ice Queedom, though, it has enough good moments through all of its confusing sub-plots to warrant sticking around, even if its just to see how this weird mess unfolds. We get a pretty emotional episode, however, as an attack from an Alan Institute “nurse” leaves Chisato’s artificial heart unable to be recharged, meaning she only has two months left of her already likely short lifespan.

I could tell from episode one that, despite a strange setup, Chisato’s and Takina’s chemistry would go beyond a simple “cute girls doing cute things dynamic,” in part due to the nature of said story, but also because of their constant working together allows them to see things about each other even her teacher (father) might not. Takina’s attempt to put Chisato’s mind at ease before heading off to fight Majima shows growth both in her character and her relationship with Chisato.

Call of the Night Ep. 8

Speaking of good character dynamics…

Call of the Night is so damn fun. I know I have been saying some iteration of that for the past month and a half now, but it becomes no less true with each passing week. This episode is a bit more serious, however, as we get the revelations that Kou must become a vampire within the year or he will be unable to, and thus will likely be killed by the others. In light of this information, he turns to Akira, and the newly introduced Mahiru, another person that Kou decidedly considers his friend, but one who is revealed to also potentially be involved with a vampire.

This was a much more reflective episode, and rightly so given recent events. Still, rather than spiraling into a moody atmosphere, it takes the occasion to make fun of Kou’s middle school attempts at romance, which Nazuna initially rejects before ultimately deciding to save his ego. Also, I have no idea what is going to become of Kou and Mahiru’s relationship, but the show isn’t shy about poking fun at how obviously obsessed Kou is with his approval, so I guess we will see.

Made in Abyss Ep. 8

Every time I think this show can’t get more disturbing, it says “hold my beer” and horribly mutilates a child. In all seriousness though, the golden city arc has been one of the most endlessly fascinating pieces of media I have seen this year. We get the rest of the island’s origin story from the perspective of Vueko, who, even in the present, shows great concern for Irumyuui, with her only wish being that she remembers her. Importantly, we also find out that Faputa is Irumyuui’s last living daughter.

Wazukyan has become a complicated figure over the course of these last few episodes, and the characterization of him and the rest of the original crew has been genuinely fascinating. Vueko, while being largely shrouded in mystery up until this point, is equally so, though arguably a bit less morally reprehensible. At the end of the day, though, it perfectly encapsulates Made in Abyss: a story about adventure and finding hope even in the most brutal of environments.


How did you all feel about this weeks episodes? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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I’ve Been Nominated for an Award?!

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It would appear I have been nominated for an award…a blogging award that is. I am nonetheless grateful to have been tagged by the amazingly wonderful Moya of The Moyatorium for the Liebster Award. It has been a while since I have done one of these, but I sometimes like answering oddly specific questions about myself. So, the Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Answer 11 questions given to yoby the blogger.
  3. Nominate 11 more bloggers.
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions too.
  5. Notify the selected nominees you chose after uploading your post, like commenting on their post.

Moya has provided such a list of oddly specific questions, and so I will try my best at the end to do the same. With that being said, here they are:

1. What is your best tip for a good night’s sleep

I’ll start by saying that (obviously) I am not a sleep expert, so I can only speak from experience. Usually, the best nights of sleep I get are after a long day of either work or studying, and going to bed immediately without scrolling social media or looking at my phone at all. Lots of devices emit a certain kind of light which can reduce melatonin, the thing that helps regulate sleep. So yeah, at the risk of sounding like a boomer, get off your phone.

2. if you get to own three plants that magically never have to be watered and always thrive on their own, which three plants would you choose?

The answer to this question probably depends on my living situation tbh, but right now I would probably say Rose, Hydrangea, and Daffodil since they all look very nice.

3. What’s your opinion on the true crime genre

I don’t really have anything against it, it is just not for me. Personally, if I am going to listen to a podcast I would rather it be something a bit more immediately entertaining like 2-4 people just talking about random stuff and making jokes or something more politically informative.

4. if you had to doodle a sun, how many rays would you typically give it?

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…3

5. Do you like chocolates with caramel inside (why would anyone like those)?

eh, If they are the only thing around and I am craving something sweet they will do the job, but generally not the first thing I go to. I would rather eat ice cream of some kind or a Mound bar if we are talking chocolate still.

6. Do you like Blueberries?

I suppose so, rarely if ever eat them though outside of being baked into a muffin.

7. What Diet Trend can you never imagine yourself trying?

Keto, without a doubt. Had a lot of IRL friends and coworkers try it and they almost never looked happy.

8. What’s the worst nickname you’ve heard someone call their significant other?

I do not think I have a good answer for this. I use to think people calling each other Bae was kind of cringe, but then I grew up and stopped caring.

9. Tie or Bowtie

Ideally neither, since I think most of them look tacky. If I am picking one though, probably Tie.

10. Are you a good liar?

oh yeah, totally, pffttt…*yawns literally every time I lie*

11. What Kind of cake should I bake for your birthday?

tbh, idk how inconvenient it would be to ship a cake to the States, but I do really like a good coconut cake every once in a while.

Thanks again Moya for the tag and the questions. I did a number of these in the past, and the people I would typically tag are probably busy, so I’ll try tagging some bloggers I’ve found in the last year or so. If they are so inclined, they can use this to introduce/reintroduce themselves, but obviously, it’s no big deal if they don’t feel like it.

Tagging

The Questions

  1. Worst airport/taxi experience?
  2. Weirdest encounter with a stranger?
  3. Hardest test you’ve ever taken?
  4. Is water wet?
  5. Highest number of sodas you’ve mixed together and drunk?
  6. What day-to-day task would you consider relaxing?
  7. You are making a list of your 10 favorite anime. What show gets close, but doesn’t make the cut?
  8. What is manga/comic series you would not like to see adapted into movie/television?
  9. How many pieces of media would you say have significantly altered the trajectory of your life?
  10. If you could pick any job, but you had to give up retirement before 75 no matter what, would you pick a new job?
  11. Where do you see yourself next month?

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Seven

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 7

To repeat what I said earlier this week on Twitter dot com:

This week’s episode gives us the payoff to the backstory which was established at the beginning of the season. The adventurers are indeed successful in securing their place in the Golden City only to be met with the harsh reality therein. Their water source is essentially poisoned, and fearless leader Wazukyan is forced to make some hard decisions.

Primarily the hard decision of eating dead babies, and potentially Irumyuui, but based on the wording of that last line it is not exactly clear. As far as effective payoff goes, this episode definitely delivered. I honestly am not sure why I expected it to be less dark considering 1. It is Made in Abyss, and 2. the show already implied it pretty heavily considering the state of the hollow village.

The show’s obsession with human fecal matter will never not be weird, but at least in this case it kind of makes sense. Nobody normally drinks poisoned water and has a good experience coming out of it. Still, the graphic nature of it is hard to get used to. A great episode to be sure, but maybe one you don’t watch while eating food.

Call of the Night Ep. 7

Up to this point, Call of the Night has largely been episodic, focusing on the budding relationship of Nazuna and Kou while occasionally introducing new characters. This episode shifts gears a bit, instead drawing attention to the vampire politics of this world as Kou gets abducted by a group of other vampires after meeting a strange new girl.

The opening for the series teases these characters in every episode, but it was never clear how or even when they would be introduced. In regards to these characters, there are two things this episode does pretty well. First, it gives them each distinct personality even though they only have a single 20 minutes between five new characters. Second, it does the former without trying to immediately info-dump the entirety of vampiric lore.

Far too many shows have fallen victim to the “tell don’t show” idea of storytelling, a tendency probably made worse by just how awful anime production can be. Even anime greats like Fate/Zero have made minor mistakes in that regard. Dropping a 14-year-old in the middle of a room full of vampire ladies and telling him he needs to convert or die is about as direct as you can get, so good on them for that.

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RWBY: Ice Queendom Ep. 7

Another episode and…yeah the cracks are beginning to show with this one.

In all fairness, this was a pretty solid episode. Jaune now joins the rest of team RWBY and utilizes his previous nightmare infection to sneak around the castle base. On top of that, we see that Weiss, for all her attempts to act mature, is secretly desperate to enjoy life as if she were a kid again.

I have yet to make this connection, but the thing that really cliques for me about this arc in particular, and why I am still rooting for the series to do better, is because it reminds me a lot of Persona 5. Instead of dealing with the outside danger that is the other Grimm or the white fang, the group is forced to deal with the corrupted mind of one of society’s elite, who also happens to be their teammate.

It is genuinely fascinating, and for what it is, I enjoy it. It is a shame though that the animation is not quite there to consistently match it. Shaft has definitely done a lot better, including my literal favorite anime of all time. But, I am here for the ride now, so I will see where it goes, at least.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 6

Lots of interesting development in this one, huh? The fog which was worrying our protagonists produces not one, not two, but three demons, one of whom is the former strategist for Maou. The gang begins questioning this new addition but is interrupted by their new job working at the beach. The end of the episode leaves us with a worrying Twist: that their new boss may just be another enemy.

As an individual episode, this was very solid. Not only do we get some good comedic moments between basically the whole cast while they are working at the restaurant, but it also does a lot for the forward momentum of the plot. While I have no idea what Camio’s introduction will mean for the rest of the show, I do hope it doe not turn into a simple mascot for the season, especially since the show already has one. Still, really solid, cannot complain.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 8

Honestly, I could say a lot of what I just said for Devil is a Part-Timer Lycoris Recoil, as this was also a really solid episode. The whole of the still feels a bit incoherent, but this felt significantly more focused. For some reason, literally no one realized that their business was failing, and so Takina decides to step up as their financial advisor, to great success. The shop becomes a lot more popular as a result. Meanwhile, questions about Makima and the Alan Institute become much more complicated when he reveals that he too was helped by them.

This episode has basically everything you could want out of this show: Funny bits not built on weird sexual humor, touching moments between Takina and Chisato, solid animation, and action scenes that look incredibly badass. If every episode was as good as this one, I would feel a lot better about the series as is. Hopefully, next week’s episode can capitalize as well as this one did.


How are you feeling about the shows this week? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, shout out to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Wolf’s Rain

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Where do we all come from?

I do not mean in the immediate sense of parenthood or biological relations, but rather in a much broader philosophical sense, as in, where does the origin of humans come from. The most commonly accepted answer, and the probably correct one, is based on the theory of evolution. However, what if that was not the case? Bones’ 2003 original series Wolf’s Rain attempts that very premise, engaging with questions not only of origin but even some of the end.

The world of Wolf’s Rain is one informed by legend, a legend that says humans were originally descended from wolves, some naturally through a process like evolution, others who actively revoked their humanity. Most, though not all, have cast aside this legend as nothing but heresy. Kiba is a wolf who one day decides to stroll through Freeze City, drawn in by a particular smell, and in search of Paradise, the supposed promised land for wolves that none have yet to reach. En route to this strange aroma, he meets others, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe, each of whom decides to join him on his journey to paradise. Still, this journey is not without its various interruptions and detours.

This is a series like nothing I could have expected, with twists and turns at every stage of its narrative. With that being said, let’s talk about it.

Wolves are the World

By far the most defining characteristic of Wolf’s Rain is its focus on religious myth. The existence of Wolves as it is written into the world functions a lot more like a creation story than anything else. The difference, in this case, is that in this world, those myths are real, the evidence being our four, later five, main characters and the various others we meet in the background. The text which informs this myth is the Book of the Moon, a book that was banned nearly 200 years ago from the beginning of the story. It describes the process of wolves becoming humans as well as the origin of the wolves themselves.

This wolf religion, so to speak, and how it is expressed in the lore of the series, is endlessly fascinating. It draws on a variety of influences, from its more western conception of Paradise, a word often used as a synonym for Heaven in Christianity, to its eastern focus on reincarnation and rebirth, and even its more “pagan” focus on nature the life that exists within it. I will stop right here to say that I am not at all a student of religion or religious history, and this analysis is based purely on my general pre-conceptions of these belief systems, so if you are someone who is better versed in these subjects and has also watched this series, feel free to better inform me in the comments.

Even outside of big foundational ideas, however, the series has a lot of unique bits of lore. An important in terms of the plot is the Wolves’ ability to disguise themselves in human form. The first arc of the show even has Kiba dealing with his own prideful nature, refusing to turn into a human, and only doing so at the behest of Hige. Because most living creatures, not just people, are descended from wolves, others are able to awaken to their true identity and take on a human form as well, most notably the character of Blue.

The World is Theirs, or So It was Thought

The YouTube channel Mother’s Basement recently made a joke in their Kaguya-sama essay (which you should all go watch if you like long video essays since it is very good) about video essayists relating everything back to socialism. It is a good joke, like all good jokes are because there is a bit of truth in it. Now, allow me to continue that stereotype but for anime bloggers.

Kidding, except only kind of. A large part of the story in Wolf’s Rain is the battle against the Nobles on the journey towards Paradise. There are two important bits of context in understanding why this series could be construed as a socialist, or at the very least anti-capitalist narrative.

The first is the nature of the nobles themselves. It is said that nearly all humans are descendants of wolves. The exception to this is the bloodlines of the nobles. It is for this reason that one noble in particular sought out Paradise for himself.

The second is the organization of society. The world in which everyone currently inhabits is one of catastrophe and decay. One might even call it the end times. People are confined to cities, with little outside of them except for a vast wasteland, which are divided up into jurisdictions. These jurisdictions belong not to any formal government, but to the nobles. It is stated by multiple parties throughout the series that the wars engaged in by the nobles are not ones of necessity, but rather ones of dominance

It is also these nobles that have simultaneously maintained the ban on the Book of the Moon while trying to create Paradise for themselves. The way that people have been alienated from their origins and led to believe otherwise for hundreds of years seems like a decent, albeit maybe slightly confusing, allegory for the ways that capitalism has separated people from their work and created feelings of nothingness.

The Grunge

The music of this series is very much bathed in the era that birthed it. At least in the States, the late 90s and early 2000s were very much a high point for alternative rock like the famous Nirvana. I am also not versed enough in music history to say whether a similar trend existed in Japan or not, but regardless, the soundtrack is very much of its time.

This is true both of the soundtrack and the series’ famously over-the-top opening Stray, which was written by Tim Jensen and performed by Steve Conte.

The compositional mastermind behind all of it, though, is Yoko Kanno. Kanno is by far one of the most brilliant artists to touch anime soundtracks, and she holds punches when it comes to Wolf’s Rain. The series can go from heavy guitar-based ballads to heavenly orchestral arrangements at the drop of a hat. I honestly do not think I could find a bad track even if I went through it multiple times, as every one of them has a place.

Video and Audio Formatting

Technology has come a long way, even in just the past 20 years. Better hardware and software have meant significantly better quality for both live-action and animated media. Some media, like video games, have gotten the treatment of HD remakes, meant to improve the quality from when it was released on less powerful machinery.

Anime is not often on the receiving end of such treatment, as is the case with Wolf’s Rain. I mentioned in my initial reaction to the series that part of what made it hard to get into it was the 4:3 aspect ratio and the oddly quiet latent audio found on the physical release. Now, I am still of the opinion that this should not be knocked against the show itself and is simply a reality of the time. However, it is slightly annoying that any time I wanted to watch it I either had to put on headphones or put the tv on max volume.

There is the outside possibility that this is a problem with my PS4, which is the only DVD/Blu-ray player I have access to at the time of writing. I do kind of doubt this since I have watched more recent disc-based media on it without the same problem.

Conclusion

As sad as it is to say, the series creator Keiko Nobumoto passed away just last year after a battle with cancer at just 57 years old. Not only did she create this amazing series, but wrote others such as Cowboy Bebop and Tokyo Godfathers. Her work has undoubtedly touched the hearts of many, it would be a shame to see a series as amazing as Wolf’s Rain be left out of that conversation.

91/100


How do you feel about Wolf’s Rain? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Six

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It is time once again for our weekly seasonal highlights, talking about the good, the bad, and the mid. The season is about halfway over now, and I would be lying if I said my feelings were not mixed. All of the shows I am still covering have had their share of fantastic moments, but not without some strange ones as well.

Call of the Night Ep. 6

This show gets weirder and weirder every episode. But, like, weird in a good way…mostly. The majority of the episode involves Kou giving a massage to/interacting with one of Nazuna’s clients, a young woman whose unhealthy connection to her work is causing her severe stress. Later on, the two go late night swimming, only for Kou to get jealous when Nazuna gets approached by other guys.

This was not an episode I expected to be as powerful as it was. I’m not gonna say it is the most amazing thing ever or anything like that. However, the way it conflates the absurdity of working a job she clearly hates with the absurdity of Kou wanting to become a vampire, along with fully committing to the “flawed” logic of it all is genuinely a heartwarming moment.

Meanwhile, Kou’s jealousy later on in the episode seems to imply that his feelings for Nazuna are developing in a genuine manner. It is one thing to watch a traditional romance show, it is another entirely to watch someone develop those feelings for the first time, all while barely understanding himself, to begin with. The series really excels at these little moments of intimacy, and hope it will continue with them going forward.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 6

Made in Abyss also excels in its character moments, but also has the benefit of building an incredibly diverse and unique fantasy world that most writers only dream of being able to create. We get a bit more action in this episode, as well, as Riko’s rescue of Nanachi gets interrupted by a stranger creature who attacks the village. As such, Riko and Company are forced to devise a plan in seeming record time in order to save everyone.

This was another banger of an episode, which really should not be a surprise given the quality of the season thus far. We get to see yet another aspect of the hollow village, one that I honestly was not thinking about when it was being introduced. The monster, much like many of the other creatures in the series, has a unique design and explanation for its existence.

It is also interesting that, for an arc about a city in the abyss whose main draw is its enate beauty, it has largely been contained within a small, kind of depressing village. This is not a complaint, mind you, only an observation about where the series might be going from here.

RWBY: Ice Queendom Ep. 6

I know some of my fellow bloggers have started doing charts for their seasonal coverage as a way of tracking their feelings week to week. While I have not done that for this season, If I were to do it, Ice Queendom would probably be in the bottom half more often than not. It is enjoyable, do not get me wrong, but it only feels consistently ok as opposed to being amazing, and this episode is a good example of that.

The main appeal of this show, at least for me, has always been its great fight scenes. Despite that, the show has resorted to using some less than stellar 3D animation, even during scenes with minimal movement. On top of that, it does little to blend into the scenes even when the characters are not moving, and as a result, looks incredibly awkward.

The story of the episode, at least, is sufficiently interesting. The group executes their plan to save Weiss, only to barely make it out alive when negative Weiss comes and beats them. The frustration with Weiss’s inner thoughts clearly affects them all emotionally, long enough at least that they need a break in order to clear their heads and regroup.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 7

Speaking of shows toward the bottom of my theoretical list…

I wish I did not have to say that, and there was a point a few weeks ago where I might have even put this above Call of the Night for potential alone. However, Lycoris Recoil has done little outside of throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. In this episode, though, the focus does narrow a bit. Chisato and the gang find out that their teacher is going on a date, and naturally, they stock him out of curiosity, only to find out something major: that her donor is also her shop regular.

Despite this reveal, though, Yoshimatsu’s role in the story still feels ambiguous, which is both interesting but also concerning, as the series already has a major villain in the form of Majima. This means that his character could be significantly more complicated, or they would write him out of the story as unimportant. I did think his relationship with Chisato’s teacher was a bit weird, but it makes a lot more sense now, at least.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 5

The best way I could describe this season of The Devil is a Part-Timer is unexpected, not just in terms of its plot structure, but in terms of which elements of the series I actually have enjoyed thus far. While the comedy has been mostly on point, as discussed in previous posts, the comedy seems to be taking a back seat. That is also the case in this episode, as repairs to the now destroyed apartment and renovations at work force Maou, Ashia, and Ureshihara into temporary jobs.

The more serious tone of this season, while definitely part of the unexpected, is certainly not unwelcome. If something like this had happened in season one it might be different, but because these characters are already well established, seeing them deal with the serious problem that is the battle between heaven and hell is fairly interesting. I am not saying it is the best the series has ever been, but it is refreshing if nothing else.


How are you feeling about this week’s episodes? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Blog Update: Finishing College and What’s to Come

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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My Last Semester

By the time this post is released, there will likely only be a few weeks left until the start of my final undergraduate semester. Seeing as how I have no immediate plans to pursue graduate-level work, it is also going to be my last semester of college for a while.

I definitely have some conflicting feelings. After all, I have met a lot of important friends in college, especially after the last year and a half to two years, and leaving them behind, even if it is only temporarily, is going to sting. Still, I am excited for what the future has in store, which hopefully includes being able to pursue my interests, even if it is just in my free time.

As far as how that affects the blog, well, I say this every time, but hopefully, it will not, though I cannot make any promises as far as post volume. Still, two of my total four classes are online, so hopefully, this one will be a bit calmer.

Website Re-design

I feel like re-designing the website is more or less an annual occurrence at this point, but I have never been fully satisfied with how it looks after any given re-work. I will skip the whole “Guess I’m just a perfectionist bit,” because I do not necessarily think that is true, but I do feel like my tastes change has something to do with it.

This is going to be one of my goals before things get busy again, and so I figured it would be better to at least let everyone know before that happens. At the very least my logo could use some serious updating. After all, if I am being completely honest, I have never felt like it looks particularly inviting.

Flaking on my Writing

This may sound weird considering this blog has been going strong all summer, but I don’t feel like I have lived up to my goals. I really wanted to work on a collection, be it a full collection or even just a chapbook. However, three months since the end of last semester and I barely worked on a single poem all break.

I did make some progress on a short story/potential novel, but that still does not feel like enough. It is difficult to not be hard on myself considering the amount of free time I had, but most of it just amounted to playing video games. No time like the present, though, so I’ll be trying to get back into the grove soon, alongside trying to update Solidly Liquid as well.

What I’m Watching

  • Arakawa Under the Bridge
  • Wolf’s Rain (I haven’t finished it since the last update) 🙂
  • Attack on Titan (Now waiting on the last part)
  • Various Summer Seasonals

What I’m Reading

  • My Alcoholic Escape from Reality
  • My Wandering Warrior Existence
  • Blue Box (officially caught up)
  • Blood on the Tracks
  • Chainsaw Man Pt. 2 (officially caught up)

How are you all doing recently? Have any more questions for me? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Exploring Anime and Entertainment