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Re:Creators, Uchouten Kazoku 7, Sakura Quest 8, Saekano2 7

May 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Would you lie to this girl?

In Re:Creators 7 it looks like Souta was the one who created military arms girl, or should I say, Altair, but we can’t be sure. He says “Altair is my …” but stops himself. He might have gone on to say “My friend’s creation.” We still don’t know who the pigtailed girl is. On the other hand, there’s that earlier scene where Masaaki and Takashi ask to see his drawings, and he abruptly leaves. (And, sigh, I went onto Wikipedia to check on a name and accidentally learned the truth. Sigh. Well, I won’t say it here). Meanwhile I want to slap him around for not telling anyone anything about his connection. It also meant lying to Mamika, who, in her earnest search for answers, had begged him for the truth.

Mamika kicks a lot of butt in the battle scene.

And I don’t like the idea of lying to Mamika, not because she’s such a nice girl, well, she is, but her simplicity and earnest desire to do the best thing is one of her greatest assets, not to mention Yuuya’s thought that creations here, cut off from the things that drive them, might be looking for another purpose in life now, exactly what she is doing. Telling her a lie isn’t going to help her development, especially after she almost single-handedly stopped the various factions from fighting in the first scene, using both her powers and common sense.

Meanwhile, we get that fight, enjoyable because we get to see how each character squares up one-and-one against each other, at least until Mamika gets tired of it and kicks some ass. We also get to see Yuuya and Rui bond, which was also fun. And we get the usual speculation and discussion. Is Altair really controlling who gets across? What is Magane going to do with the info she overheard at the Ufotable Cafe? Did she figure out what the show is only teasing us poor people at home? And why Ufotable? Are they involved in the production?

As for Uchouten Kazoku 7, I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

I thought for sure Soun’s new maneuverings would be the focus of the show’s main story arc, but instead he’s shot and bleeds to death in the forest, while Yasaburou tries to comfort him and wonders where all his rage went. Interesting to note that Soun had suggested last episode that he was no longer a tanuki, and when he tried to kill Yasaburou this week he did so in a demon form, yet when he dies, he’s the furball that he had tried to deny he was. It changes everything for the story of course. Just where is the story going now? Will there be a single, main villain? Tenmaya? Jyurojin? There’s still plenty of jerks in the Ebisugawa family, I suppose, but I can’t see any of them stepping up.

Yasaburou’s reaction to Benten’s latest scheme.

These newest events also put a damper on what had been another, delightfully unpredictable episode just minutes before. Weird enough that Soun, a tanuki, would try to join the Friday Club, a group that eats a Tanuki every year, and I think Jyurojin was just toying with him. Yasaburou’s impassioned speech towards Yodogawa about hot pots was a strange moment. I suspect he was just talking to stall for time until a better idea came along than Yodogawa getting shot at by Jyurojin, but his subject matter had me scratching my head. But it worked. Then, heh, Benten decided to have some fun. And so while it was good to see Soun rejected, and intriguing to have Yasaburou(!) join the Friday club instead (the look on his face!), the final five minutes changed everything.

Sakura Quest 8 has the tourism board screwing up big time, holding a regional dish unveiling on the same day as the area’s annual festival, and worse, not telling the merchants board, especially baa-san about it. So Shiori, who baa-san actually seems to like, says she will take charge, after earlier saying she likes to work in the background. So there’s that, and a love-plot going on with Shiroi’s big sis Sayuri and a gourmet chef named Bear, er, Kumano. But really the episode is about eating. Most of the early scenes involve eating food, at home and in restaurants, munching on snacks, coming up with original, weird dishes, and even harvesting. It would have been nice to have more of that and less plot, but I’m hungry at the moment anyway.

Saekano Flat 7, after the publishing of the game, goes into a holding pattern. They make more copies, Utaha prepares to graduate, Eriri finds herself unable to create, and Megumi is still pretty much ignoring Tomoya. The questions on Tomoya’s mind, after chatting with Iori (loved the eavesdropping sale clerk in the background), was what the next project would be and how to get everyone involved in it again. I figured Utaha, who is graduating, would be the biggest problem, but she’s fine with it, and so, I assume, is Eriri, who overhears her. The biggest problem turns out to be Megumi’s hurt feelings, and that links to the next project question–I assume, because Tomoya starts working on it after a Megumi guilt-trip. In the biggest meta moment of the series yet, he calls it “How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend.” So is the new work going to be the story we’ve been watching for nearly two seasons? Well, this show handles its references well, so it would probably be interesting to watch.

Re:Creators 6, LWA 18-19, Uchouten Kazoku 6

May 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Meet Magane.

Re:Creators 6 introduces a new character, I didn’t get the name but Wikipedia calls her Magane. A nasty free-killing sort who will happily turn a lie into a lie and then a nasty thing shows up and slaughters whoever her opponent is. Aliceteria and Mamika, after a conversation between themselves over the type of people they want to fight with, meet her, Selestia and Meteora show up, along with beard-guy, Blitz, and soon everyone’s squaring off against each other.All of them apart from Mamika wanting to fight but for different reasons. By now we’ve got just about everyone’s motivations clear, and we see why Aliceteria is siding with Military Arms Princess–her world is a terrible place and she wants to put a stop to it. Meteora brings up the point that the “gods” of this world are just as mortal as anyone on their own worlds. Magane, alas, uses the stale “You’re the same as me” argument. Maybe the best moment apart from Rui chatting up girls on the street is Mamika coming to a decision about when she should fight, and that is to stop the fighting. Stopping Blitz’s bullet with a heart-thingy and a cute “pop!” noise jarred me with its stylistic clash, but was very effective. However, I hope they’re more or less finished with the talky character-establishment they’ve been doing. Oh, Souta cops out and doesn’t tell anyone about what he learned last episode. Idiot.

I fell behind with Little Witch Academia, so I didn’t watch the wonderful magical mecha battle until now. On the other hand, apart from that and another Croix experiment, there wasn’t anything in the episode that moved the story along. I suppose you could argue that Akko befriending Constanze does, but as a perso who likes being alone a lot myself, I kind of felt Akko’s refusal to not interfere annoying. Well, it was still fun to watch.

#19 might be getting closer to the main story. Diana has decided to leave Luna Nova and become the head of Cavendish, because if she doesn’t her Aunt Caryl will continue to sell off the family’s (and perhaps the story’s) important artifacts, including the Beatrix Tapestry left by either Beatrix or Sybilladura Lelladybura, I got confused there, one of the original Nine Olde Witches. That is to say, the Cavendish family is yet another victim of magic’s decline, and the sooner Akko can mix the traditional magic with modern … whatever, the better for Diana. Unfortunately it took the entire episode to spell this out and we’ll have to wait for more next week. It’s good to notice, however, that Diana has completely accepted Akko’s role of gem-getter and magic saver.

That’s the sugar bowl talking.

The thing about Uchouten Kazoku is that you’re never quite sure where the story is going. This episode looked to be about Yodogawa being forced out of the university, and while the episode follows that for a bit, Yasaburo is soon off to Arima Onsen for reasons I forget, and discovers, by following Benten, that the nasty Soun is back and to be inducted into the Friday Club, meaning a tanuki will eat tanuki, though he considers that he has been cast out of tanuki-dom, so it’s okay. There’s more than one person this season who is trying to deny their origins, Nidaime acting like a gentleman and the idiot twins imitating him, and the twice-made comment made this week that Souichiro didn’t smell like himself after an onsen, or when Soun tried to impersonate him.

Yasaburo hangs out in Hell for a while.

Anyway, Soun shows up and casts Yasaburo into a picture of hell, Tenmaya might have something to do with that, and suddenly he’s impersonating an oni and getting hit on by a female oni and being told about Hell’s industrial revolution. While we’re absorbing this he goes to a sumo match and finds a person there taking on all comers. Maybe you can guess who it is. In other words, once again the show has taken a couple things out of its bag and tied them together in ways you would not expect. Oh, the artwork for hell is as amazing as the show’s artwork for Kyoto, not that I’m making a connection there.

Saekano2 4, Hinako, Re:Creators and Kazoku 5

May 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I think Tomoya got promoted.

Saekano Flat 4 has Utaha’s expected rage over Tomoya’s rejection of both her endings, and then tears. What I liked about it is that Tomoya doesn’t back down. He has solid, clear reasons why her stories won’t work–they’re too wordy, novelistic, and because he’s so obsessed about the game, he’s not about to let the scripts slide. Once Utaha settles down she accepts this and they work together to improve both her scripts, now routes, and even add a happy route because Tomoya doesn’t want the characters to suffer.

This scene was very strange.

In doing so, Tomoya, at least in Utaha’s eyes, becomes a full creative partner and not simply the gopher with a dream. Naturally these scenes are sexy and the final talk when it’s done, post-coital, Utaha’s lack of clothing (which only freaks Tomoya out once) helping to that effect. Some odd business at the end, where Utaha seems to be giving Megumi the green light to move on Tomoya, then Megumi actually playing her game character, which, in spite of the dreamy school festival bonfire atmosphere, felt out of place. Megumi’s never seemed to consider Tomoya a love interest. Next week we’ll probably move on to Eriri and the writer’s block they’ve been trying too hard to set up.

I’ve about lost my patience with Hinako Note–did I say that last week? This week it was Hinako screwing up at dance rehearsal and crashing into Yua every time, and she practices more and maybe gets better. This damn festival is only a week away but she doesn’t even know her lines yet. Then there are dithering scenes where she and other characters all imitate animals, with fanservice included. I’m a little curious about how the play will turn out, but if the show doesn’t show signs of life in the story, or get less dull in the cute scenes, it’ll be time to drop it.

Re:Creators 5 only gets interesting in the final minute. I had wondered during the cabinet meeting “Why is Souta even there? How is he involved?” Turns out he was thinking the same thing, and then we get a minute of realization, with scans and flashbacks thrown in, to military-arms girl’s probable origin, and a pig-tailed girl he apparently knew. But the show leaves it at that for now. Now I wonder if he’ll rush to his fictional buddies, or maybe calm-voiced investigator Kikuchihara, with the news, or if he’ll go off on his own to find out. Right now, with us knowing so little about him, it could go either way. Elsewhere, the government finally noticed all these strange people flying around (the giant mecha was a giveaway) and rather clumsily brings everyone in for yet another infodump scene. Good to have the government’s backing, I suppose. Meteora makes another probably telling comment about how humanity will solve this problem in the end, not the fictional characters. Oh, and we meet a boy-pilot, an impetuous kid named Kanoya, who acts up but is forgiven because that’s the way he was written, to the author’s regret.

I really must visit Kyoto for the bonfire this year.

Uchouten Kazoku2 5 has assembled plenty of story bits as it moves along, tossing them into a bag, and now they can create an episode just by pulling one or two out, hanging them on an event, and putting them back in again. Last week the event was a shogi tournament, this week the bonfire festival, and we remember what happened last time … But first the show has to get cheerfully strange by having Gyokuran sucked into that hole on the shogi board, followed by Yasoburo and Yaichiro, whereupon we discover the whereabouts of fathers shogi shack … I’m sure there’s some meaning to it all, but I just giggled. The whole Yaichiro/Gyoburan romance gets officially started in a sweet scene on board the flying tram Yajiro, and while I smiled at it, I knew the serenity wouldn’t last since it was only halfway through, and it was, remember, the bonfire festival episode. The last bit pulled from the bag was the Benten/Nidaime business. As usual, plenty of events, and they still have plenty of things in the bag.

Re:Creators and Hinako 4, Sakura Q 5

May 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Re:Creators 4 is a series of infodumps. The first one, another long Meteora speech, is the more interesting. She’s concerned that this world can’t take too many fictional characters running around in it, screwing around with our physical laws, and that if it continues, our world and theirs may have to be “reset,” which doesn’t sound pleasant, though he says nothing about who or what would do the resetting. There’s also the concept that our world “has to make things make sense,” an interesting idea that he doesn’t expound on. Still, apart from that last bit it’s all stuff we could easily speculate ourselves. There’s also speculation from military uniform girl, that she might simply want to have the world crash down on itself out of spite. We later turn the mystery girl, who is conning the valkyrie-figure Alicetaria into causing trouble for her sake, though Makina seems to have her doubts. But the best part of the episode goes back to Meteora, who , in a touching speech, announces that she had not taken a side until she played her game and was satisfied that her (deceased) creator obviously cared for her and her world, even if she smilingly refers to her game character as a cariacature of herself. I sort of wished she had used the word “2D.”

As for Hinako Note 4, I’m beginning to lose my patience. I’m a little concerned because this show has developed a plot–putting together a show for the cultural festival, and getting Hinako confident to perform in it. To this end they bring back the absent advisor, who turns out to be a nine year-old prodigy with big boobs. She sees Hinako fail to dance, but also sees her sing brilliantly, Hinako’s moment of triumph for the episode, and promply chooses her to play the lead in her own script. At the end of the scene she gives a hidden, evil grin, which is enough extra plot-fodder for me to keep watching … if I WANTED a plot. My favorite Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows don’t have one, or there is a minor story each week which is dispatched around cute moments. While the show does aim for cheerfully aimless from time to time, these scenes aren’t as good as in, say “Is the Order a Rabbit?”. Maybe because none of it is weird enough, well, apart from Kuina.

My opinion about the show these days.

Sakura Quest 5 gives us a low-key end to this story arc, but then again, Sanae’s troubles, running away and now maybe running away again, isn’t a problem you solve with big dramatic scenes. Instead she picks up what she needs to go on from Tatsuo and his shoe, an incidental funny anecdote that gets the wheels in his turning, and a not-so-great speech from Yoshi about how all work is made personal, even if some people don’t realize it or give the worker the acknowledgement he or she needs. So Sanae’s taken care of. It’s on to Yoshi’s great plan, to decorate the town hall with hand-carved wood, a ludricrous concept that is happily fiddled with and embelleshed into a 100-year project to decorate the train station with Ranma. Much more sensible, though I wonder if their descendents will follow through, and It’s not a bad idea to think of town revival as a long term thing.

Categories: Re:Creators, Sakura Quest Tags:

Catching up with Re:Creators and Saekano2

April 29, 2017 Leave a comment

It was necessary for the story, dammit.

Three episodes in, Re:Creators hasn’t has bobbled the ball a little, but hasn’t dropped it. If there’s a problem right now it’s that everyone is too busy speculating on why these fictional characters are arriving on our world, or they’re reacting to the “real” experience here, like coffee. Meteora is doing most of the speculating, because of his nature, the way he’s been created, a fact that itself leads to more speculation, and it could go on and on. Most of the talk is okay; it’s honest discussion about important things, and it’s done intelligently. But there is an awful lot of it, and near the end of episode 3 I was coming to hope that Meteora would get tired and fall asleep for a bit.

Or that we’d get another weirdo battle. I’m not really sure why Selesia and magical girl Mamika started battling in episode 2, and I’m even more confused by the outcome–not that Yuya and that horse girl showed up, that was fun. Mamika discovers that her cute heart-shaped weaponry act like bombs here, and draw blood. And then Selesia starts talking about the danger of achieving ideals by force, while it was obvious that Mamika was shocked by the extent and violence of her powers here (and why are only her powers changed?) and probably won’t use them again … well, she did just that, but you might take that as lashing out in a panic. That scene could have been clearer. And while the show has started to bring the creators in, a logical thing to do, the even more logical thing, characters reading ahead to find out what happens next in their own world, is teased in a brief scene, then forgotten: Selesia doesn’t want to know her future. But the threat is there with anyone who’s read the books and blurts out a future event by mistake, and surely other characters will be tempted by it. Still, overall the show is doing a good job with a tricky scenario.

Looks threatening, but …

… Megumi shows up.

When I wrote about Saekano2‘s first episode I thought it strange that they would begin the season that way. Turns out I missed an episode 0 that turned out to be EXACTLY what I expected. Fanservice, commentary on the game their making that was also meta-commentary on the series itself, and more fanservice. Anyway, that out of the way, the show has settled in on its big arc, as Lori and Izumi have a confrontation and veiled-threat scene where Lori’s bigger, more famous team will almost certainly beat out Tomoya’s scrappy bunch, and would have been very serious except for Megumi disarming dramatic moments, not to mention everyone’s awareness that this was all kind of cliche. Now Tomoya has to choose which Utaha ending to use, and that too has profound importance because Tomoya’s decision might affect her future and their relationship. Episode 3 is more or less ridiculous in its setup, but brings us Tomoya’s interesting conclusion: neither ending works. So I think back on what Utaha said she’d do if someone told her that, and hope Tomoya has a helmet on.

Categories: Re:Creators, Saekano Tags:

New shows Spring 2017 4

April 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Not sure what that is …

Sekai suru Kado dumped two episodes on us in one week, but I don’t have the time for both at the moment, so I watched episode 0, probably a preview. We meet two government flunkies, first Shun, your average lazy young guy, and then Shindo, who’s a bit weird. Together they are assigned to negotiate a buyout of a plating factory that has seen better days, but Shindo gets interested what they’ve been toying with. Then he brings in a scientist and chats up a few bigwigs, and they create a “supermetal!” Everyone is happy because no one really wanted that general purpose hall they planned to build, anyway. So maybe we’re going to watch a show about real government suits changing lives? Sounds a bit dull. Then this happens.

At this point, a flying cube wasn’t what I expected.

Yep, episode 0 was a precursor to main fun, which starts with the other episode. That cube is fascinating and great to look at, though the CGI they use for everything when it’s around looks fake. As for the story, it looks like ace negotiator Shindo is going to negotiate the best possible outcome for his side and the other (an important point for him, though his reasons are less moral than practical) in outer space, or another dimension, or something. “Why?” is left unanswered for now, and now I suppose I’ll have to watch the next episode of thing thing to find out. It had better be good.

Re:Creators’ rather self-important, movie-like opening.

Re:Creators, after an artistic and confusing opening bit where a girl might jump in front of a train, we don’t know, has Sota, your average high school boy, talking about narrating a story, then has him checking his tablet for his favorite show, but the tablet gets weird on him and suddenly he’s in another world where a girl in a mecha fighting another girl, who has a great rotating sword routine going on. Then he’s back in his home and so is the mecha girl, Selesia, and the other girl shows up and there’s another fight, where another inappropriate character shows up. What’s going on is that Selesia is the heroine of the boy’s favorite show and light novel, and she’s stuck here for the time being, with the third character and god knows how many others.

Selesia discovers she’s fictional.

In other words, fictional characters are finding themselves in our world, which sword girl says is the world of the gods, and these gods, i.e., us, are cruel people who must be stopped. The sword girl is quite amusing in her description of us. It’s an interesting premise, not the first to bring fictional characters to earth to be sure, but one with potential. But if I was sent here, I would find the person who created me and ask them why he/she made my own world such a shitty place. The answer is of course that the creators are trying to tell a good story with conflict. I wonder what the characters will do if they discover some smutty doujin written about them. Interesting premise aside, this show goofs with some of the usual tropes, beautiful girl in a boy’s room, that sort of thing, and that worries me a little. We’ll have to see how it pans out.

Eromanga-sensei starts with a finish.

Eromanga Sensei gives us Izumi, a pen name, a high school boy who’s been writing successful erotic light novels for a while. He has never met his illustrator, “Eromanga sensei,” and is distracted by the shut-in little girl, Sagiri, who’s been living with him for a year, not sure why. He cooks her meals, etc. Well, I’ll give you three guesses as to the identity of the narrator.

She says that a lot. Gets a bit annoying.

It all sounds ecchi, and the show occasionally gives us a little too much of Sagiri body from time to time. But the show itself goes light on the ero stuff and focuses instead on Izumi and Sagiri’s relationship, siblings not by blood, living under the same roof, having a shared interest, but Sagiri is too shy and traumatized by her past to truly open up. When she finally lets Izumi into her room we get a sweet but possibly too long scene where he coaxes a little out of her, and wisely stops when she reaches her limit. If they continue with this path, with a little eromanga silliness mixed in, this could be a nice little series. Not sure I’ll have time for it, though.

Uchouten Kazoku 2 begins with some typically lovely background art.

For me the biggest surprise of the season is the return of Uchouten Kazoku, a wonderful show that did its job three years ago and had absolutely no need for more, yet here it is. As for the story, well, like first season, it kind of spreads over the place and yet remains familiar. Yasaburo continues to look after Akadama-sensei, when Nidaime (I guess) returns to do harm to him. But it’s mixed in with brother Yaichiro wanting to revive his fathers shogi tournament, hunting for something called tsuchinoko, and even Nidaime’s return is complicated by tengu politics. Meanwhile Yasaburo happily walks through it all in his inimitable way, happily talking with both sides of the conflict.

I wasn’t sure I wanted another season, but this episode reminded me just how good the original was, the quick, witty bits that refer to other moments, things like the Hawaii room in a proctology clinic, the furniture falling everywhere (tengu stones), and Yasaburo’s devil-may-care attitude. The only things I missed are Benten, who is mentioned a lot but is on a world tour, and that tanuki girl that they kept hidden through most of season one. Also, I’m also happy to report that the show is still gorgeous to look at, particularly the background art of Kyoto. This season already has a lot of possible winners in it, but I might have to find room for this one.

Some fake european history to start off Zero.

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho is euro-style fantasy, set back in the days of witch hunting. After a brief lesson which basically told us that life sucks for witches, we quickly discover that they also suck for beastfallen, half-man half-animal. Plenty of rewards for anyone who can bag either a witch or a beastfallen, and our unnamed beastfallen (so I’ll call him “Beast”) hero is well aware of it. He meets up with a young, cute witch named Zero, and after some bickering and soup-stealing they team up, to watch each other’s back until Zero gets the Book of Thirteen back, else it’s the end of the world, I guess. Also Zero will transform Beast back into a human.

Straightforward show. Both Beast and Zero are types, but not annoyingly so. It helps that Beast is afraid of witches and sorcery. Also, while sorcery is well-known and feared, magic is still pretty new to the world, and Zero gives us few interesting infodumps on the subject, having written the book on it, so to speak. The kid they bring in at the end looks annoying, I hope he’s not a regular. So the show has a decent backstory, an interesting goal, and a couple of decent characters. Decent start. By next week I’ll probably have forgotten it exists.