Archive for the English Anime Category


LGBTQ: Steven Universe, Season 6

September 8th, 2017

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In Season 1 of Steven Universe we met and learned about the Crystal Gems, friendly alien invaders from space. In Season 2 we began to really understand their history. Season 3 deepened our understanding of all the series’ characters and Season 4 brought the first major plots to fruition…and expanded our cast. In Season 5, Steven and we begin to understand that Rose Quartz was not necessarily the beacon of Good that she had been held up to be. As we learn about her flaws, Rose becomes exponentially more interesting.

In Season 6, we begin, at last to put all the pieces we’ve been given into some kind of picture. And the picture we’re getting is nothing like the one we expected.

We’re introduced to Blue Diamond in person. With the chance to directly compare her and Yellow Diamond, we start to get a little bit of a picture of an imperious royal class that understands little and cares not at all about the beings it rules. We spend a lot of time in space this season since, realistically, having neutralized The Cluster, any further contact with the Diamonds would have to be in space or on Homeworld, or Earth would be at risk. Space it is, then.

Several really significant things happened this season – Greg was introduced to just how vast the story in which his son is embroiled actually is. Steven is now very visibly showing signs of super strength, and becoming more confident with his powers. We visit Homeworld and learn that in a strictly defined hierarchy, there’s still an outcast underclass. Amethyst meets her family and finds that she’s just one of the gems after all.  I learned about Holly Blue Agate , a stone I had never heard of before. (Fairly remarkable, as I’ve been collecting semi-precious stones for decades…) and Lars…well…no,that’s a spoiler, I will not spoil.

We get to see that both Yellow and Blue Diamond have genuine affection for Pink Diamond (and I can’t help but wonder what White Diamond, who has never once been mentioned, but whose symbol we’ve repeatedly seen, is like.) In fact, during “What’s the Use of Feeling Blue,” we get the distinct feeling that Yellow Diamond surprises herself when she speaks of missing Pink Diamond.

But once again, the climax of the series is unexpected in ways that we couldn’t even have predicted. Once again we learn that the truth isn’t what we we were told it is, and it isn’t what others think it is, either. So…what is it? The fan theories are flying, thick and fast. ^_^

The last significant thing that happened is that my wife is hooked. Hah. ^_^ Now I can obsess and she’s totally into it. Gotcha. Hee Hee. Hee.

Art – 8
Story- 10
Characters – 10
Service – 1 on principle
Queerness – 7 Fluorite is a lovely nod to polyamory.

Overall – 10

Can’t wait for Season 7. Seriously.

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Yuri Anime: Yurikuma Arashi The Complete Series, Disk 2 (English)

August 25th, 2017

While watching Disk 1 of Yurikuma Arashi, the collaborative effort between Ikuhara Kunihiko and Morishima Akiko, I spent most of the time searching for meaning. While watching Disk 2, I gave up on that and just let the story play out while I stared at it.

For once, the confusion wasn’t a surfeit of plot, but an excess of same. Kureha, Ginko and Lulu all had their own fairytales, all of which overlapped at moments that they met, but were otherwise wholly different and unmanageably massive. The Severance Court adds to to confusion by adding restrictions on all of the characters that served no purpose other than creating plot complications so that the several fairy tales can’t possibly all have happy endings…until they do.

The happy endings were the surprising twist at the end, since we’d all have a reasonable expectation of at least one of them ending alone and miserable but, no, this fairy tale was going to end with the two princesses living happily-ever-after, goddamn it. Even if we had to kill a few other people to make it happen.

Unfortunately, the translation on this disk was distractingly bad, with at least one gaffe that my wife protested. “Oh, for fuck’s sake!” was a thing that was said a number of times this disk, which makes me think the team they assigned here got confused and just gave up and no one checked their work.

Equally annoying was the technical side, which I suppose must have been the same for the first disk, but for some reason didn’t affect me as problematic. The controls on the menu were beige, and would light up light pink when clicked. I had to get up and lean over the TV to see the color change. I’m old and my eyes are crap, but the one thing I am very sensitive to is color and this was brutally bad. Please run title screens by someone over 40, Funimation. Thanks.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Weirdly happy, but still weird.
Story – 7 …and they lived happily ever after, somehow.
Characters – 7 Bears all the way down
Yuri – 14 million
Service – 7

Overall – 7

It wasn’t bad, but it was so service-y and creepy in places that I can’t call it “good,” either. It was certainly a thing we watched, wasn’t it?

Thank you Yuricon Superhero Dan P for giving me a chance to relive my adoration of a wonderful evil psychotic lesbian in Yurika.

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Discovering New Yuri 2017 Presentation

August 21st, 2017

At Yurithon 2017 I did a presentation called Must-Read/Must-Watch Yuri.  At Flamecon 2017, the same presentation was presented as Discovering The Best New Yuri Anime and Manga.

I promised to put the entire presentation up here, so folks could draw on the links, rather than taking photos of the screen. Not that I didn’t want them to do that, but this is SO much easier, I hope! For reasons, the videos were making it impossible to upload as a Powerpoint (and not everyone has that, so I’ve taken out the videos and converted the presentation to PDF. The links should work for you. Only the Utena Blu-Ray and Citrus anime have no links, as they currently have no ETA. 

 

 

 

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Yuri Anime: Yurikuma Arashi The Complete Series, Disk 1 (English)

August 17th, 2017

In early 2015. Yuri fans were treated to a dream collaboration – Morishima Akiko and Kunihiko Ikuhara were working on a blatantly Yuri anime and manga series, Yuri Kuma Arashi. I reviewed the anime in Spring 2015, and the manga (Volume 1Volume 2 | Volume 3) between 2015-17.

As we were watching the anime I came to the conclusion that we were watching a “Cards for Humanity” Yuri edition. The word Yuri was repeated so often, with such little context, that it quickly ceased to have meaning. I quite like non-linear, multiple perspective stories. Ikuhara’s Mawaru Penguindrum kept me riveted right through the end.  But the service, the repeated footage of an uneeded naked transformation with use of both lily and phallic imagery, as well as the Court scenes that established little, made for tough going in this series. It was a relief, in fact, to be able to read the manga, in which a coherent story was built up, even if it did end symbolically. There was no such story here in Yurikuma Arashi: The Complete Series,Disk 1.

Which gives us time to ponder things, like why are bears considered so ferocious in Japanese folklore?

It’s not hard to grasp the place that, in every culture, the apex predators own in stories through the ages. Wolves, bears, lions, tigers. No one has to “explain” why Robin Riding Hood is threatened by the Big Bad Wolf or why Shere Khan ruled the Jungle.

It might be heard for someone looking at this to really think about the ferocity and power of a bear. 

We’re just forced to remember Colbert’s warning that bears are not our friends.

And we are reminded, repeatedly, that bears eat humans.

BUT. We’re also told that bears are only allowed to eat invisible girls – girls that have been “excluded.”

And maybe in that oft-repeated footage of the court that makes little sense, except to provide us with boy bears (there are no male humans in this world, only mothers and female teachers)…maybe…we can see a parable of bullying, of ostracization, of the kind of othering that homogeneous groups are prone to.

Or maybe it’s all a really sloppily-conceived series of fairytales that uses concepts like “bears,” “Yuri” and Stalingrad Fuyu Keshiki all mushed together.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Two great tastes that tasted deeply odd together
Story – 7 Once upon a time…oh fuck it.
Characters – 7 Bears all the way down
Yuri – 14 million
Service – 7

Overall – 7 

Ultimately the two things about this series worth seeing are Morishima-sensei’s art animated and the obviously Evil Psycho Lesbian bear (Spoilers. But surely it was the most obvious thing ever.) Yurika.

Many thanks to Okazu Superhero Dan P, for sponsoring today’s review and the fetching gift bag in which it arrived!

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Yuri Anime: Riddle Story of a Devil, Disk 2 (English)

June 21st, 2017

The second disk of Riddle Story of a Devil: Akuma no Riddle, brings the plot to it’s conclusion, adds in post hoc ergo prompter hoc exposition and a climax which is semi-satisfying. 

Tokaku and Haru dispatch the second half of Class Black without much ado. The school festival production of Romeo and Juliet gives us a chance to move quickly towards the series’ twelfth night. ^_^ (Come on, that one was acceptable. I’m done now.)

We’re given a chance to see that Chitaru and Kirigaya, despite themselves, are clearly in love and are allowed a happy end to their story.

And so it goes; a horrible assassin goes after Haru with no remorse, only to turn out to be not so terrible after all. Who could hate Isuke for instance, when it turns out that her gay parents rescued her from a life of neglect and abuse?  

Until we hit Hanabusa, the rich girl who has remained aloof from the beginning, where we get a pile of foreshadowing dropped on us as subtly as a ten-ton weight. We are also treated to multiple displays of Haru being resourceful and intelligent, something that pleased this viewer. Despite the story damseling her, and her optimistic personality, which could lead one to assume she’s helpless, the final fights shows clearly that Haru is not a hapless victim, waiting for death. She shows some quick thinking and a solid grasp of tactics.

Finally, we learn the real story behind Class Black…sort of. I’m left with a number of questions, primary among which is what is Kaiba in this series for, anyway? He really does nothing at all and could easily have been replaced to little effect. 

The end comes, poignant and touching, and we find that almost everyone has a happy ending, several of them leaving assassination for something more socially acceptable. 

The ending of the series does not include the epilogue of the manga, but it is nonetheless heartstring-tugging and we’re given to believe that Haru and Tokaku will live happily-ever-as-long-as-they-both-can-when-targeted-incessantly-by-assassins.

This is all followed by an additional episode OVA, which is a vehicle primarily to show breasts jiggling unrealistically as Class Black is intentionally stranded on a desert island and forced to tug at each other’s bathing suits for reasons.

Ratings:

Art – 7 
Story – 7 
Characters – 7 
Service – 6 
Yuri – 5 for Chitaru and Kirgaya  (3) + Haru and Tokaku (2)

Overall – 7 

I do not doubt that 10 years from now few people will remember this series, but for a thing to watch, with some Yuri, it’s not bad at all. Haru upping her game really made the final fights work.

Once again, my sincere thanks to Okaku Superhero Dan P for his sponsorship of today’s review!

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