There were six

Three months ago I was following six new shows, the most ever at one time. So, how did the winter season pan out?

Gosick — Victorique and Kujo both annoyed me in different ways, and the first few mysteries weren’t that interesting. It takes more than a blonde Leningrad Cowboys haircut to sustain my interest. Dropped.

Fractale — Even mediocre Miyazaki beats pretentious, incoherent imitations. Dropped.

Yumekui Merry — I dropped it when it was licensed. I’ll probably pick up the boxed set in a year or two. It’s not high priority. I skimmed ahead in the manga; there’s possibly a good story there, but I doubt that it could be wrapped up neatly in 26 episodes, let alone 13.

Kore wa Zombie desu ka — Any show that makes a guy in a frilly pink dress a exemplar of manliness deserves recognition. Still, it felt like a small fragment of a much larger story, and at the same time, it seemed that the writers had no particular goal in mind but were making it up as they went along. I almost made it all the way through the series, quitting ten minutes into the last, irrelevant episode. It’s a possible buy if it’s licensed for DVD, but it would be low priority.

Level E — The oddest show I’ve seen in a while. The central character, a hyperintelligent alien bishie prince and a complete jerk, torments and plays practical jokes on his staff and on earthlings unfortunate enough to catch his attention. Surprisingly, it’s watchable and sometimes even fun. It gives Takehito Koyasu a chance to chew the scenery as the prince’s much-put-upon assistant. If it’s licensed, it might be worth buying when the boxed set is on sale. The opening theme is my favorite from the winter season.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka?Magica — The last two episodes were more than worth the wait. The show has had me thinking of Divergence Eve/Misaki Chronicles; the last episode strongly reminded me of Serial Experiments Lain as well. Every episode surprised me; even when I had some notion of what was coming, Shinbo and Urobuchi consistently exceeded my expectations. I don’t declare anything a “classic” until it is at least ten years old, but I think that in 2021 Madoka will join Cardcaptor Sakura, Lain and Shingu on my very short list of true anime classic series. ((Haibane Renmei (2002) and Dennou Coil (2007) are also probable classics.))


I got half-way through the sixth episode of Fractale tonight and said the hell with it. Take away the Ghibliesque veneer, and what’s left is a ho-hum dystopia with annoying inhabitants. I’m mildly interested in learning just what exactly Nessa is, but not enough so to endure six more episodes of Clain, Sunda, Phryne and Enri.

Instead, I watched some more of Gurren Lagann. One indication of how busy I’ve been lately is that I started it earlier this month and am currently barely past the midpoint. It’s a completely absurd, over-the-top show with ridiculous mecha, bellowing macho men, macho women and no respect for the laws of physics, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything so exhilarating.


Sometimes it’s not easy to call your attacks:

(From Level E.)


Which of the fansub groups working on Madoka produces the most accurate translations? I watch the first sub available of each episode so I can see it before the otakusphere is rife with spoilers, but for rewatches I want to view the one that best catches the shades of meaning in the dialogue.

Steven has an interesting hypothesis about Madoka:


Madoka was a mahou shoujo before, and a really good one. But she was utterly miserable, having lost her family and nearly everyone she loved to the witches. Homura was her last remaining friend, and decided to become a mahou shoujo so she could use her wish to make Madoka happy.

Homura’s wish was to give Madoka back the life she had lost, the family and friends and places that were gone. And that’s why Madoka’s life is a bit surreal, with the strange house and the school built of glass walls and everything seeming just a bit off. It is real, in a sense, but it was created by Homura’s wish.


At this point it is very clear that Madoka is a horror story involving children, closer to Bokurano than Sailor Moon. It’s an interesting exercise to watch the opening and note the misdirections and outright lies.


Since Funimation is streaming Fractale, I am not downloading the fansubs. This has been frustrating. How many more times will the broadcast be delayed? Will I live long enough to see the final episode? Similarly, I am not downloading Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, Level E or Gosick since they are on Crunchyroll. This has also been frustrating. I get very tired of playback stopping every 45 seconds while the buffer reloads.

This illustrates two reasons why streaming is the least desirable way of making anime available. I really do want the videos on my computer or on DVD so they will always be readily available, regardless of the whims of the licensors or the vagaries of internet traffic.


Just wondering: was there some sort of big sports event this past weekend? The “Stuporbowl,” I think somebody called it.


Gotta catch ’em all.


Humor and horror are closely related, as anyone who has read Saki or followed Akiyuki Shinbo’s career knows. Or who follows politics. Both are responses to the perception that something isn’t quite right. Consequently, abrupt shifts in tone from comic to horrific to WTF? in shows like Kore wa Zombie desu ka? or Level E rarely bother me. Both series remain on my watch list.

Gosick, however, I am dropping. Victorique is too abrasive to be sympathetic, even if she is literally a prisoner of the library, and the perpetually flustered Kujo is not a good foil for her. The mysteries aren’t interesting enough to compensate for the lack of chemistry between the characters. ((It’s a bad sign when I know the solution to a “locked room” mystery before the writer finishes presenting the problem.))


Today’s Sailor Moon crossover:


Perhaps relevant to the neverending fansub debate:

(Via the other Steven.)


Anthony Sacramone, formerly Martin Luther’s assistant, is starting a new religion:

1. We believe that Pantu Baba, the Vile, the Irascible, the Arbitrary, eternal and almighty god of all that is was or ever shall be, has created all things in a fit of pique. Which explains Detroit. And Comcast.

It does make more sense than Scientology.


This post is brought to you by the letter “I.”

(Via Zontar the Enormous.)