Archive for the English Anime Category


Adventure Time Cartoon (English)

August 26th, 2016

front porchI’m late to this party, I know. It was last year or so when Dreiser (the very same Dreiser who coined “AniLesboCon”) sat my ass down and did an epic description of the Marceline x Princess Bubblegum (Bubbeline) relationship across all of Adventure Time. I’d seen some random episodes of AT and liked it fine, but up to that point, my favorite character was BMO. ^_^ I loved the happy-go-lucky stories, the anime references, the goofy way things played out, but never was caught up by the story overall.

I mean, sure we all like Jake makin’ bacon pancakes, but the show was very hit or miss for me. I did like Bubblegum Princess and Marceline quite a lot. When AT did a Marceline-focused arc, I promised myself I’d sit down and really watch it, but then just never did.

Recently one of my favorite lesbian sites on the Internets, Autostraddle wrote up a passionate review of their relationship and went so far as to detail episodes one should watch, in order, to see their story. Finally, I went and did the thing.

Start here, with “Adventure Time” Lets Marceline And Princess Bubblegum Grow Up (And Old) Together  by Heather Hogan. Even if you don’t watch all the episodes, the article is A level fangirling and worth reading for itself. ^_^

In 2014, Olivia Olsen, Marceline’s voice actress, stated that she had been told by series creator Pendleton Ward that Marcy and BP had been (and she thought they ought to be) a couple, but because queer programming might offend some TV markets, it was left as subtext.

There was some kerfuffle after this. Denialists aside, at this point, it’s almost *more* enraging for fans when absurdly obvious subtext stays subtext. Which is partially why Rebecca Sugar, who had worked on AT, created Steven Universe. She saw a huge need for overt text queer representation in cartoons. So yay Adventure Time for cracking that door open. I especially wanted to give this cartoon some props for that, before taking on the new season of Steven Universe.

I’m going to say that, plausible deniability be damned, no one smells another person’s t-shirt every morning, if they are just friends. ^_^ Marcy and BP get close from time to time to saying something important, but they aren’t going to because this is a show about people for whom romance gets in the way of watching a movie or going on adventures. Nonetheless, BP’s assurance that when Marceline dies, she’d be the one to bury her and Marceline’s request that they grow up and spend their lives together pretty much indicates exactly what you’d expect.

While in Japan in the spring I came across this little tote bag and completely lost my shit. ^_^

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I had no use for it and it was way too expensive but I went back 3 times to fight with myself about buying it. ^_^

So, with Marceline and Bubblegum, we have canon, but not overt text. Very close, but not quite in the gold. Adventure Time gets a silver medal from us on presentation and general audience reaction.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Even as goofy as it is, it’s sometimes good
Story – 8 It can be hit or miss, but more hit than miss
Characters – 9 Their self-awareness and honesty can take an adult’s breath away. Thundarr was never like this.
Yuri – 4 It’s subtexty, but sometimes gets really close to that line

Overall – 8

Possibly even more importantly, Adventure Time heralded a new age of amazing American cartoon storytelling, the likes of which I had not seen in decades. We’re in a really good place for cartooning in America and I, for one, am thrilled.





Yuri Anime: Yamibou, Disk 3 (English)

July 8th, 2016

YamiboWell, here we are at Yamibou, Disk 3.

The disk begins with an arc that immediately has the potential for being extremely good or extremely horrible, but manages to thread between them for something that doesn’t need to be in this series at all, but isn’t terrible; about a colonization ship that would have just failed in space if Lilith hadn’t been there. Hazuki is pretty much window dressing for the arc.

In the middle of the space ark arc, we digress into an extremely tedious arc with Gargantua and his trolls, that ultimately turns out to be the climax of the whole story. Eve/Jill/Hatsumi returns, sends Gargantua and Ritsuko to live happily ever after, while leaving Hazuki in an alternative version of the one she came from in which she has, at least, a mother.

We learn that Eve is not, in fact, Hazuki’s sister, but Lilith’s sister, who should have been tending the library, but was traveling through the books.

It’s not a great ending, but not just because Hatsumi leaves Hazuki with a weird obsession about the child she will one day bear or because we return to the most tedious service of the series, but because it could have been, with one tweak, a much, much better ending.

If the point of the series had been to tell Hazuki’s story, all they would have needed was to bring Hazuki to the library until she died. She’d have her Hatsumi and lived happily ever after, the end. But that was never truly the point of the series. Traveling through the stories was the point and Hazuki was merely the vehicle.

For an incredibly messy ending with loose ends all over the place, it wasn’t as stabbingly awful as I remembered it. It still think the incest and child thing is creepy at best, but your mileage will obviously vary.

I did quite like Tamamonomae’s floating compound, and the idea that if there is a library in which all the books are worlds, then there could be a compound which had access to them all. I would love to see someone with talent take a stab at that, although, on second thought, I think Borges already came close in the stories “The Library,” “The Garden of Forking Paths” and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, all in Labyrinths. (I strongly recommend this book if you have not read it. It deeply informs my writing and my reading. ^_^ So if you want to understand me, this book is a great place to begin.)

The art really didn’t hold up well. It was surprising to see that this was Studio Deen, although, they did get much better with time. As excruciating as it was to watch this again , I don’t think I hated it and maybe even can find some “like” in there for it.

Ratings:

Art – 5 Still crappy art
Story – 6 How *easy* it would have been to make this a good story
Characters – 7 How *easy* it would have been to make this a good story about good characters
Yuri – 6
Service – 8 It almost disappeared there for a bit, but then came back with a vengeance.

Overall – I’d give this series a 7, exactly what I gave it the first time around in 2004. ^_^

Hazuki is still gay. She’ll spend years falling for girls who look or sound like Hatsumi for a while, then settle down with a nice girl and have that daughter.

Once again, many thanks to Media Blasters for the review copy and for bringing this early Yuri Anime out in English!





Yuri Anime: Yamibou, Disk 2 (English)

July 5th, 2016

YamiboYamibou, Disk 2, is about as good as this series gets.

We learn a little about Jill/Eve/Hatsumi’s backstory, who Gargantua is and his relationship to Jill/Eve/Hatsumi and Hazuki has a few opportunities to be a little more than just a sailor-fukued Heathcliff. And, in doing so, brings humanity to the series, rather than just an unending string of fetishized tropes.

In the episodes with Quill and Fujihime, we get to see a glimpse of Hazuki outside of her burdensome desire for Hatsumi and she seems like a nice person. And, yet again, I find myself desperately wishing I could pluck the nice young lesbian out of the crappy story, take her home, talk to her about life and put in her a better story. ^_^;

Ratings:

Art – 5 It’s still crappy art
Story – 6 “Better” doesn’t mean “good.”
Characters – 7 Such brief glimpses, but you can imagine what it might be like
Yuri – 8
Service – a grillion and one

Thanks so much to Media Blasters for the review copy. It was nice to see the Fujihime episodes still didn’t totally suck.





Sailor Moon ‘S’ Trailer Screened at Anime Expo

July 4th, 2016

Viz Media held a special Sailor Moon panel yesterday at Anime Expo, where they announced the cast, timing and extras for the first part of the Sailor Moon S video release, ANN has all the details, as you might expect.

S was slightly delayed because, after complaints about the visuals and sound in earlier sets, Viz announced that they were changing the process.

Well, the new extended trailer, dubbed, is up on YouTube and I have an opinion about it. ^_^ If this is what we’re going to be getting for the dub – this may well be the best dub ever made. I do not say this lightly. I don’t much like dubs, but the video and audio quality here looks and sounds…well, terrific.

Watch the trailer for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments!





Yuri Anime: Yamibou, Disk 1 (English)

June 30th, 2016

YamiboYami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito anime was originally released in 2003. Based on an ero-game visual novel, in 2004 when I reviewed it, I said, Hazuki was one the “most openly lesbian character in all of 2003.”

It’s quite extraordinary how much changes in 13 years. There are series I loved when they debuted, that upon aging, never really held up. And there are series that I really loathed at the beginning but, as they and I aged, we both mellowed a bit.

It’s even been 8 years since Touka Gettan, the main selling point of which was that it was by the same team that brought us Yamibou (not much of a selling point, I thought then and still think.)

Somewhat surprisingly, Yamibou, which has been released by Media Blasters under their Anime Works imprint, is both better and worse than I remembered.

Let’s get the bad out of the way quickly. I had technical difficulties playing the disk. We had to dig out a computer with an old version of Windows Media Player to get it to work. Our DVD player and my several media payers failed to do more than open up the title page. The title page is slim, but typical of Media Blasters, you’re just never quite sure your choice has stuck, until the video starts. ^_^

The art is….well, of course, it’s all subjective, but it’s worse than I remembered. Obsessively male gaze, and the faces are the most absurdly big eyes – small mouth I’ve ever seen. Almost a parody of the worst bits of the genre.  Lots of high-contrast light and gel lens effects and do not get me started on the “shaky camera” that is so overused I was beginning to feel seasick. UGH, animators who use a shaky camera, there is a special place in hell for you.

The story is, well, it’s better than I remembered, if only because it’s got an actual story within all the story jumping. I only remembered dribs and drabs of the narrative.

The first part of the story is, of course, our introduction to high schooler Azuma Hazuki, who is in lust with her older sister , Hatsumi. On Hatsumi’s 16th birthday, she disappears, Hazuki follows her into a library in which millions of stories exist, all of which are a world that Hazuki, and the keeper of the Library, Lilith enter, ostensibly to look for Hatsumi, but more realistically so we can lasciviously leer at the sexual harassment of a variety of female characters.

We learn that Hatsumi is actually Eve and that the melodramatic Adam by the name of Gargantua, is looking for her…for reasons. Reasons which include being insane and obsessing over Eve’s ability to give life and therefore immortality.

Mostly we’re watching Hazuki wander through worlds in which she is cast as the strong but silent and broody type that all the girls fall in love with, including Lilith. She’s cool, if you like that type and she’s voiced by Noto Mamiko, which I hadn’t remembered at all. (Shimizu Ai plays Hatsumi, although admittedly, not a chewy part what with Hatsumi being mute for huge chunks of the story and all.)

If this anime was re-done to not work so hard to be appealing to a truly lowest denominator audience who imagine that young women objectify and sexualize their objects of desire the way a male audience is presumed to, it might not be bad. Instead it vacillates between deeply cringe-making and not-entirely-awful. ^_^;

Ratings:

Art – 5 what was I thinking in 2004?
Story – 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 7
Service – a grillion

Overall – 7 If you know what you’re getting into, it still has moments that are worth watching for.

Another thing that has changed, in 2003 I apparently didn’t like the music, but Aitai, the OP, has been on my MP3 player for a decade and I still like it, so in your face younger me. :-P

Thanks so much to Media Blasters for the review copy. It is truly a blast rewatching this.