Back in black

A new season of Black Lagoon is coming.

;

That is all.

EDIT: Aww nuts, the trailer is for a new volume of the manga.

Real lives of fictional characters

Okay, I just had to share this manga, Family Fight, translated here. It’s about a shoujo heroine coming up against real life. The manga is deliciously absurd and only six pages long, so why aren’t you reading it already? 

Anime on the go

I don’t have much to say about any specific anime series, but I do have a bit to say about many series.

First is Argevollen, a show about two countries locked in a war mostly fought through the use of giant robots. The series just throws you into the middle and then kind of keeps going, like someone continuing a story that got interrupted earlier. There’s no single scene that you can point at as evidence of the show being good, no "fuck yeah" moment where you pump your fist in the air. But when you stick with it, the whole thing just kind of gets at you.

You do have to accept this world as being one where airplanes apparently weren’t invented and all the resources devoted to aerospace were diverted into making something as patently ridiculous as mechs into viable war machines. There’s a reason why the Cold War didn’t see its own version of the Maginot Line being built, after all.

But when you get past that you find a surprisingly realistic war story. Unlike other giant robot anime, which focus almost entirely on the officers and mech pilots, this series shows that every soldier is important. The spear carriers do their bit, like in the episode where the mechanics are hurriedly putting the Argevollen back together while the town is under attack. Also, everyone hates the stereotypical hot blooded male lead for being a stereotypical hot blooded male lead. I don’t foresee any battles being won just because the protagonist shouts into his mic really loud and pulls a laser sword out of his robot’s ass. Also, the enemy ace is named after the Red Baron, which is a nice reference. I think there were some more military history references but I can’t remember them offhand.

And I get why the "bad guys" are dressed like European armies from the classic age of imperialism but dammit, modern armies don’t dress like that anymore for practical reasons. That Grande Armée stuff sticks out like a sore thumb out on the battlefield. Anyway, I’m glad that this season is only half done. The 12-13 episode seasons we mostly see nowadays do tend to feel a bit squished sometimes.

Second, while Log Horizon sounds like a reprise of Sword Art Online, with the premise of players being stuck in a multiplayer fantasy world that’s somehow become real, it thankfully manages to say something halfway intelligent. The first episodes are very clichéd about the party of adventurers rescuing a damsel in distress from a cartoonish villain. Plus, as someone who’s never played an MMORPG, the premise never spoke much to me. But once the story turned into building a society out of antisocial loners in a fantasy land then it started getting interesting. There were even clever justifications for the tropes of RPG games (respawns, XP, etc).

I also just watched the first episode of World Trigger, a show about superpowered teenagers fighting off interdimensional alien invaders called Neighbors. You might be able to guess that most of the episode takes place in a high school. I swear, the high school series is the equivalent of the procedural drama in anime. The show itself is no great shakes, plus the name of the aliens makes me think that the fights are just stupid arguments over who knocked over the recycling bin and it better not have been your goddamn kid again, Bob. There’s a twist in the end that may make me come back for the next episode, but that one better knock my socks off.

Finally, I am most impressed at the latest instalment of Monogatari. This time the story revolves around one of the supporting characters while the protagonist from earlier parts just makes a brief cameo. I just love the way the series refuses to let its problems be solved by violence. “Teenagers resolve supernatural happenings” sounds very Buffy the Vampire Slayer but this show always fixes problems through everything but punching. Emotional and spiritual maturity is what really stops you from being haunted by the ghosts of your own guilt and regret, and damn if the climax doesn’t externalize this realization in superb fashion. Plus, there’s a one on one basketball match that I watched three times just to admire the artistry of the animators.

So it seems I’ve had three in the “yes” column and one in the “maybe but probably no” column. I’d say these are good results for trying out new anime.

Hail to the king

Some peeps were sharing stories of video game dickery at a certain place online, and while most were so-so, this one managed to class up the joint:

In an online 8 player free-for-all in Age of Empires 2 I secretly made separate alliances with every player, then got them all to give me some resources to build a wonder so that we could win a team victory.

Wonder built, I waited until the victory timer was at about 15 seconds, and then broadcast to all "The Lannisters send their regards." and de-allied them. I alone won and they were defeated.

Da Durarara

Damn you, Mass Effect trilogy, why were you on sale on the PSN store? I’m doing nothing but playing Mass Effect 2 as soon as I get home and up to when I fall asleep with the controller in my hands. I finished the first game years ago and I quite liked it, but not enough to deal again with some of the wonky aspects that set my teeth on edge the first time around (i.e., driving the MAKO, dealing with the inventory system, the endless elevator rides, and so forth).

So to refresh my memory on the plot, I read the fanfic Of Sheep and Battle Chicken. I would have been pleased if it were the official novelization of the game, instead of the rather bad spin-off novels that were actually published. It explores and expands upon stuff from the game, and where necessary it invents things wholesale. The story also isn’t shy about changing things drastically from the game’s plot to make the narrative flow better, which I quite liked. It’s by no means perfect, since small but persistent annoyances such as mixing up “its” and “it’s” and slipping between past and present tense happen quite a bit, but they weren’t enough to stop me. The fic’s writer really poured a lot of creative juice into this endeavour, as evidenced by the reams of text about this fictional world’s setting, akin to Tolkien’s volumes full of hobbit apocrypha.

Anyway, that’s what’s been up with me lately.

Also, guess what? Hello Kitty is promoting Durarara. Ain’t that adorable?

How Crunchyroll works

So, Crunchyroll: you pay the subscription fee and you get to watch the shows in the catalogue that are licensed in your region, right? Simple enough. But how exactly is your money divvied up among the different studios whose work Crunchyroll streams?

Apparently, your subscription fee is allocated according to the anime you watch. Quoth Crunchyroll’s CEO, “[T]he money is split proportionately among those shows depending on which ones you watch the most”.

What this means for me, personally, is that I’ve paid money to support right wing military porn, a show about Lovecraftian monsters if they were teenage lesbians, and one where antisocial shut-ins prove their superiority as leaders and as human beings.

Sorry, everyone. I’m the reason the industry sucks.

Stop the presses!

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is getting a second season.

MY TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY SNAFU IS GETTING A SECOND SEASON.

In other anime news, apparently Russia invaded the Ukraine. Did anyone else hear about this? Do you know what anime this is from? I’m guessing Axis Powers Hetalia but I’m not a hundred percent on that.

War of the Worlds Part II

What’s this? An unofficial animated sequel to The War of the Worlds set during the First World War?

And it’s from Malaysia, too. Hmm . . .

Well, the CGI war machines look good but the animation of the human characters looks kind of like it’s from a late 90s or early 2000s cheapo cartoon show, like that Saturday morning Stargate one. I suppose it’s nice to see animation from countries besides Japan or the US. We’ll see if the animation industry in Malaysia is a going concern from here on.

Absolutely no panty shots

Via Crunchyroll: Anime director promises that his new anime will not feature gratuitous shots of the female characters’ underwear.

Seriously, it’s a sign of what the industry is like that this is something that has to be specified. I mean, what the hell? So it’s exceptional when cheesecake isn’t in an anime? Jeez.

Cool summer

The weather this summer has been unseasonably cool in Hogtown, much like there hasn’t been anything that hot in this season of anime. And yeah, I’ve been watching Aldnoah Zero every Saturday morning, but normally I’d have more than one series occupying my viewing.

My malaise has been somewhat allayed, though, since I just saw that a new episode of Monogatari has come out. I think I’ll let the episodes pile up a bit before plowing through them, but I’d forgotten how much I liked this show. Yay for capitalism’s demand for constant production.