Archive for the English Anime Category


Yuri Anime: Sailor Moon Crystal, Season 3, Episode 3 (English)

April 22nd, 2016

It’s not *quite* what I hoped, but the continued quality of the entire series is so generally elevated over…well, everything…that I’m inclined to be forgiving. ^_^

We’ve met Hotaru, and had some time with Kaolinite, yay! Eudial, you came and went and we hardly knew ye, but I can’t wait to spend time with you in the original anime.

I hope you all enjoyed the most crowded secluded mountains ever and this:
SMCS3E31

And this:

SMCS3E3

And then we got this:

And then we wrap up with this:


Which is about as good as it’s going to ever get in Sailor Moon.

So one more grin-making episode of what is turning out to be a really lovely season.

Ratings:

Overall – 9 Better than I expected, not *quite* what I hoped

Now that we’ve established that when pandering is for us, it doesn’t suck after all, we can settle in and watch the rest of the story develop! ^_^





First Look at Sailor Moon Crystal, Season 3 (English)

April 6th, 2016

sailor-moon-crystal-season-3I’m not going to mince words here – I grinned like a loon through the whole episode. ^_^

Here’s a few things of note.

Let’s start with the eternal message against fandelusion: Remember, the story and dialogue are known quantities, so arguing about wanting something that won’t happen is not something that I’ll waste time doing.

As in the manga, as far as we know in this first episode Tenoh Haruka is a boy. And it it is as a boy that the girls of Mugen Gakuen think he and Michiru make a great couple. This will play out a little longer in this version than it did in the original anime.

I absolutely loved, with all my love, a few of the individual scenes which strongly echoed their analogs back in the original series. I chalk this up once again to the director, who I just feel really gives a hoot. These scenes made me sincerely happy.

Voice actresses Minagawa Junko and Ohara Sayaka as Michiru and Haruka were lovely. I’m completely satisfied with them in the roles.

We only had a teeny taste of Kaolinite and Hotaru, that left us wanting more.

I have only one complaint and while it is not minor, it’s not anything that will change. I find the transformation scenes to be drawn rather unfortunately out of proportion. As those are scenes that will be played repeatedly, and are animated early on, I honestly feel that they ought to be the best possible animation that can be done. Attacks too. In Season 3, the attacks looks fine, but the transformations are a hot mess. It’s a shame, but we’ll live.

My final note is that I’ve already really come to love the ED. It checks off all the “songs by/about Haruka /Michiru” list items: Use of their names, mentions of wind and ocean, mirror and sword, eternity, moon. Check, check, check. Good song. ^_^

Can’t really do ratings after 1 episode, but who am I fooling? It’s a 10, because. ^_^

You can watch this season free and legally on Crunchyroll, Hulu or Nico Nico Douga, the latter, subtitled in 10 languages with global access, so go watch it!





GATE Anime (English) Guest Review by Jennifer L.

March 2nd, 2016

gateIt’s Guest Review Wednesday here on Okazu! (One of several coming up, yay us!) Today we’re welcoming back Guest Reviewer, Jennifer L.! Please give her a warm welcome. The floor is yours, Jennifer!

The anime adaptation of Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri, or Gate, is currently being released one episode per week on Hulu or Crunchyroll in the United States, and may also be available on other streaming outlets.  Erica has very graciously allowed me to return as guest reviewer to say a few words about it.

Gate has a fairly standard set-up in fantasy literature — indeed, the subtitle, which could be translated as “The JSDF fights like this over there” gives strong hints about what’s going on. A rift between parallel worlds has been opened in the Ginza area of Tokyo.  On the far side is a pseudo-medieval feudal society where magic works.  Convinced of their own invincibility, the ruling empire sends through a conquering army of goblins, armored knights, and dragon-mounted cavalry.  They rampage through Ginza, and have things pretty much their own way, until the Japanese Self-Defense Forces get mobilized, after which nothing really goes their way.

The viewpoint character, Yoji Itami, is a young JSDF officer.  He distinguishes himself in the battle of Tokyo, and subsequently gets included in the excursion through the eponymous Gate.  On the far side of the Gate, Lieutenant Itami and his Third Reconnaissance Platoon explore the terrain of the “special region” beyond, and encounter the populace of the Empire.

There are silly things about the situation.  The Imperial Princess who becomes the JSDF’s friendly contact with the Empire has the ridiculous name of Piña Co Lada.  The battle priestess who teams up with Itami and company has “ceremonial vestaments” which look like thigh-baring gothic lolita fashion; when people are dying around her, such as during a battle, she becomes sexually aroused.  Most female characters of the special region who are anything other than background peasants have costumes which are rather… skimpy.

But here’s what really caught my attention about the series.  While it has aspects of the harem anime trope, with various characters expressing attraction to the viewpoint character, Lieutenant Itami, it also has two Yuri couples: one implicit, and one explicit.  The implicit couple consists of the forest elf refugee whom the third recon platoon rescues, Tuka, and the platoon’s medic, Mari.  As of this week, episode 16 of 21, nothing has actually happened between the two, but Tuka’s eyes often follow Mari, and when the battle priestess teases her, “so, that’s the kind of girl you like?” Tuka blushes instead of denying it.

The second couple is explicit, and involves the battle priestess, Rory, herself.  In this world, we are told, priestesses become demi-goddesses, and after a thousand years of service (Rory is on year 961) ascend to become goddesses themselves.  One of the goddesses who has already ascended, the underworld goddess Hardy, wants Rory as her bride.

That’s it… in the whole series, there’s a teenage girl with a crush on another, slightly more mature girl, and a goddess who covets a demi-goddess as her bride.  Hardly a core Yuri series, right?  So why do I consider it worth talking about?  Precisely because it’s not a core Yuri series.  Bear with me for a moment.

As Yuri fanciers, we of course want more Yuri series.  We want to see girls falling in love with girls, not for the male gaze, not as a stop-gap until they meet the right man, but in love with each other for each other, and for us.  We want to see ourselves and our experiences reflected on the screen.  And sometimes, we’re lucky enough to get exactly that.  But as I’ve encountered recently, trying to sell my Yuri novel, there’s a perception that in the United States the only real audience for Yuri is women who are romantically or sexually attracted to women.  Straight women, the theory runs, will buy male/male romance, but female/female romance isn’t what straight men want.

So the inclusion of not one, but two female/female romantic pairs in the cast of Gate is an example of inclusion.  Among all these hetrosexual attractions, there are dropped a couple of girls who are attracted to girls… and no one makes a big deal about it.  It’s just a thing that happens.  It feels to me like this is social acceptance, an acknowledgement that there are girls who happen to be that way, and it’s just the way things are.

Nor is Gate the only series in which I’ve noticed this.  In Amagami, an anime based on a dating sim, the character Rihoko is in the school’s tea club.  Her senior students are two girls who are always together, and are depicted as still being inseparable in a flash-forward which is set years later. While they are never explicitly referenced as a couple, those with eyes will see.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if this kind of casual inclusion is truly culturally significant; if it really represents the beginnings of wider acceptance of female/female couples.  To me, it feels as if it does, precisely because no great fuss is made over Tuka’s attraction to Mari.  It’s not played for the male gaze, there are no steamy kisses or awkward fumblings… it’s just a thing which happens.  A local falls for a soldier, as has happened in every conflict throughout history, including my own parents.

Even if you don’t feel that casual inclusion is significant, however, Gate is an enjoyable series.  More depth is given to developing characters than you might expect… even characters with silly names. If you like fantasy series that don’t involve high school students, this one is right up your alley.  One word of warning, however: in one episode, there is a fairly explicit scene in which the Imperial Prince Zorzal sexually abuses his captive, the Bunny princess Tyuule.  The scene is not gratuitous; it serves an important purpose in establishing Zorzal’s character and Tyuule’s motivation.  None the less, if such abuse is a trigger for you, you should avoid the episode.

Ratings:
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 2
Service – 5

Overall – 7

Jennifer Linsky is currently seeking a literary agent for her Yuri science fiction novel Flowers of Luna.  More of her writing can be found on her sporadically updated blog.

E Here: Thank you again, Jennifer, it’s good to have you back. ^_^  Although I’m going to say that these don’t read as couples at all to me, just pretty standard Yuri-service included for people who enjoy that kind of thing.





Batman: Bad Blood (English)

February 17th, 2016

BatmanBB Batman: Bad Blood is a story of…actually, no. let’s back up before we jump into it.

Batman. When I was a kid, Batman was a semi-comic camp live action series and I was collecting Marvel comics. While I liked the gritty Dark Knight reboot, I also got really tired really fast of the obsessive Bruce Wayne and his childhood trauma. I enjoyed Batman the Animated Series (very much for the actors it featured, like Roddy McDowell and David Warner,) when I caught it on TV, but for the most part, in between Miller’s comic and the 2010 reintroduction of Batwoman, I basically ignored the series altogether.

I knew of Dick Grayson as Nightwing and of course knew about the reboot of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, but honestly had only vaguely heard of Batwing, because I wasn’t following the series, except as news headlines. I love David Warner as Ras-al-Gul and remembered his daughter vaguely from the 2005 cartoon.

I tell you all this so you understand my background when I began to watch Batman: Bad Blood. Not a fan, but not completely unaware of the cast in Gotham or the Bat-family.

I rented Batman: Bad Blood on Amazon Video, but it is also available as a BD/DVD combo set.

So let me start the review again. Batman: Bad Blood is a story of family and romance, cloaked in a bat-costume, with a little light emotional and physical torture and some rather good fight scenes.

In the course of a battle, Batman disappears and Dick Grayson, Kate Kane and Luke Fox have to band together with Damien Wayne, the newest Robin, and hold Gotham together until they can find Bruce.

The story has, I have to be honest, some of the most hackneyed writing I have ever seen. Laughably predictable dialogue, but it was still an enjoyable watch. But clearly, you must be thinking about now, there must be something about this that make it worth discussing on Okazu, Erica? Of course, there is.

Kate Kane, Batwoman, get a solid chunk of the 72 minutes to have her story animated. And not just her backstory – abbreviated in a brief flashback of socialite Kate being saved by Batman, which leads to her determination to become Batwoman, punctuated by Bruce’s insistence that she give it up. But also a moment when Bruce tells Nightwing that “something happened” to Kate in the military. “It broke her.” We, having read Batwoman: Elegy, know that what broke her was her country’s rejection of her because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and her removal from military service. These moments were necessarily brief, but so were the equivalent moments defining Nightwing, Batwing and Robin. So that was all interesting…but not what made this animated feature worth watching.

Kate – not Dick, and not Luke – gets a moment of off time at a bar, where she meets and clicks with the only other lesbian in Gotham City – Renee Montoya. (Joke, joke, there’s also Maggie Sawyer. Gotham’s a big city.) She leaves Montoya with a clear indication of interest.

Dick and Kate get a moment close to the climax where they discuss their own relationship. Dick admits he thought Kate pretty cool, but she thought he was a pain. “I wasn’t good with the whole girl thing,” Dick admits. “Neither was I,” replies Kate. And we’ve already seen Kate’s father ask if she’s met a nice girl. So in this version, it’s well known and accepted that she’s gay. That alone is notable. There is no coming out scenes, no “I accept you.” just – Kate. That was pretty wonderful.

So then the plot happens and it’s a Batman cartoon, so I don’t have to tell you we wallow in his parent’s death and the bad guy talks a lot and it all turns out to be a lover’s quarrel and some other shit. And then they win. and Batman gets over his bad self and accepts that the Batfamily is a thing. And…out of the shadows, we see the new Batgirl stepping into the light of gloom, ready to fight this same battle all over again, and I think, what a great fanfic Bruce dealing with his pain ending up creating a tribe would make.

But the end for us is again more interesting as Kate answers the door, to see Montoya, read to go on a date with her, while Colonel Kane beams approvingly. A far, far step forward from 2010, when Kate’s pain was the plot, not her joy.

Ratings:

Animation – crappy art, but excellent fighting scenes. Everyone’s hair was criminally bad. With all those Japanese and Koran animators, I expected better hair.

Story – Batman and enemies and his parents were killed, did you know? Right in front of him. zzzz

Characters – I liked Luke (he seemed to think everyone else’s issues were theirs to deal with) and Dick didn’t annoy me as much as expected. I kind of like Kate, more than I did in Elegy, even though this was the same Kate. Damien’s got no choice but to be annoying and Bruce was a dickhead.

Lesbian – Yes.

Service – No.

Overall – 8 Not bad and plenty good, better if you actually like Batman.

All in all, a very Batman Christmas. And worth the $4 to rent on Amazon. ^_^





Sailor Moon R Season 2 Part 2, Disk 3 Anime (English)

January 29th, 2016

SMR22-275x318 At last, we have enough information to piece the story together in Sailor Moon R Season 2 Part 2, Disk 3. And immediately upon doing so, the final battle is upon us. So, in time-honored tradition, I would like to digress completely to discuss Chibi-Usa and Sialor Pluto.

First, let us discuss Chibi-Usa. She is a near millennium-old 5 year old. This is a critical piece to understanding the things that go on on “R”. Children are pretty basic animals. They get how training works and then they turn it around on you. I throw this binky and start to cry, you retrieve the binky. I cry, you feed me, I cry, you change a diaper. This makes sense. And because most children exist in a bubble of one, they don’t really consider that their experiences are not utterly normal. So, when Small Lady cries and no one picks her up, this is a frankly shocking change to her life. She has no idea that this is normal or that being self-reliant is a thing. Like so many humans (often much older than 5) she presumes that the general is personal, so when her friends aren’t there for her, she imagines the worst.

All of this is not beside the point – it is the point. She cannot grow up until she has to grow up. And the worst part about this has to be that both Serenity and Endymion know all this and they have to let it happen. And that is the big UGH of the series.

Which brings me to Sailor Pluto. There are literally two things she may not do – open the Doors of Time and stop time, and in both anime and manga version, she does both. Worse, she knows she’s going to do both because she’s already done them when we meet her for the first time. I mean, how *annoying* is that?

So is Pluto the worst Senshi or are the rules idiotic? Obviously, the rules are idiotic. We can see that right away, because the rule “Don’t open the Doors of Time” clearly don’t apply to the Royal Family, so it now becomes “Don’t open the Doors of Time to anyone but us and anyone we bring with us” and BAM! security is breached. And “You may not stop Time or you will die” makes perfect sense, except she doesn’t. And remember, we first meet her 1000 years in the future when she has *already* done these things…and there she is. If the conundrum around Chibi-Usa is ugh, then this one is argh. ^_^;

But all of this resolves when it turns out, as we and Saphir suspected, that Dimande is an idiot. And Serenity, joined by Princess Small Lady (as opposed to Chibi Moon in the manga) defeat the Wiseman as we had no doubt they would.

I had become somewhat complacent about the quality in this remastered version of the 90s series, so upon completion, I pulled out the Pioneer (remember them? they became Geneon, then pulled out of the US completely) edition of the Sailor Moon R Movie. Holy crap do the Viz disks look a million times better. Color, quality, sound all better. So, once again folks complaining about the visuals – the remastered version is *way* better.

Viz will be putting out the R movie, so if you haven’t yet seen it, you should. It’s 1) surprisingly gay (Minako says in the background that there are two guys at her school that “are that way” and another major plot point, I’ll keep for a later review) and 2) has an awesome end scene in which we see “Moon Revenge” sung to it’s best advantage. (Another song I jog to, so it is constantly in my ears. It’s a damn fine song.)

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 7 In the end it actually makes sense
Characters – 7 In the end, only Saphir has a lick of sense
Yuri – 0
Service – 1 on principle

Overall – 7 I’m a sucker for “La Soldier.”

I’m really glad to have watched all of “R” and I am SO ready for “S”! The little clippy/trailer episode only made me want it more. ^_^ Ogata Megumi plays young Mamoru in the “R” movie, as well. I am on tenterhooks for the big “S” rewatch. Back in the old days we watched the entire series in one day by skipping the OP/EDs and all the henshin and attacks after watching them once through. It’s a testament to how much I like “S” that I didn’t hate it with a passion after that marathon. ^_^

Once again, many thanks to Viz for the chance to engage in all this fannishness!