Monday, October 31, 2011

A poem

The power went out.
The East Coast snow storm did it.
Next post next weekend.

*bows* And that is my crappy attempt at haiku.

More specifically, the power went off here between 6:00 and 7:00 pm on Saturday. It was on when I woke up this morning (and chose to fall asleep again because it was still much toastier inside the blankets than outside of them). I'll post again next weekend. Thanks for your patience!

Update at 4:44 p.m.: Also, Happy Halloween to anyone celebrating it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween silliness

First fan art post in two years, w00t. I just felt like putting one together again for Halloween this year. (Here's the one from 2009.)


No surprise for Azusa's costume.

This one might be harder to identify. Hint: Shizuru and Natsuki are on the broomstick.

Nanoha and Fate riding Raising Heart and Bardiche like broomsticks = my favorite pic in this post.

If you can't recognize these three, you are not a true card-carrying girls with guns fan.

Someone needs to make a Kyuubey jack o'lantern.

I didn't find anything yuri-relevant for Penguindrum, but... gah, penguins... cute!! Couldn't resist. XD

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yuruyuri Anime Review (And more on the latest Penguindrum. Weird combo, I know.)

This might be the worst review I have ever written. Why? Because I really have nothing much to add to what I first said about the Yuruyuri anime. I hated the first episode, but from the second episode on, I became lulled into a blank, zen-like state of boredom. Kind of like how, if you stick your hand in near-freezing water, the pain eventually gives way to a lack of feeling.

I mostly remember the characters as an amorphous, candy-colored mass that I felt nothing for. The girl whose friends always made fun of her for being bland? (Because they're so much more interesting, obviously.) Nothing. The endless tsukkomi-boke routine by the magical girl-loving blonde and her brunette friend? Nothing. The girl whose gag was nosebleeding while slashing her friends? Nothing. Her twin who did the same thing, but with drooling? She actually creeped me out for getting turned on by the idea of her sister getting action. Ick. Well, I guess that's a feeling.

I was incorrect when I said that no two characters in this series have feelings for each other. I forgot about the two girls who are tsundere towards one another. But it's hard to root for them when all they ever do is have conversations like, "You think you're so great because you have huge boobs?" "Screw you!" I did think it was kind of cute when Ichijinsha created a marriage license for them, but also kind of asinine that they joked about how the government wouldn't accept it simply because one of the two characters filled it out incorrectly. It's similar to how eye-rolling it is when some female seiyuu makes a Katy Perry-like show out of how she "married" another female seiyuu, tee hee. But I'm getting off track.

The girl who likes the blonde seems to have genuine feelings for her, but I can't for the life of me see why. (Granted, that's part of the joke.) The student council president has a "forbidden relationship" with her mad scientist-like science teacher- meaning that she volunteers to be the subject of her experiments. The explanation of why their relationship is forbidden did elicit a chuckle. The one really funny gag was the one about the pink-haired pigtailed girl's macabre drawing style. Since she has the cutesiest character design while being the bitchiest character on the show, she had the most potential to be entertaining, but it was wasted aside from the drawing joke.

I actually turned out to have quite a bit to say about this show. Nothing that really surprised you, I'm sure.

Story: Zzzzzzz
Art: B-
Overall: D+

I'm really happy that there's more for yuri fans this season. You have:
  • A canon side couple in a crappy series. (Horizon) By the way, screw you, Horizon. Watching you feels like a weekly chore. Like, "Empty trash can and recycling container in the garbage and recycling area on the first floor, do laundry, watch Horizon." I'll do the same thing I did with Yuruyuri, and catch up to what's left of it after it finishes airing.
  • A character with a one-sided crush in a crappy series that I haven't seen. (Ben-to)
  • A character with a one-sided crush in an okay series. (Working!!)
  • A character with a one-sided crush in an awful series. (Shinryaku?! Ika Musume)
  • I'm still slashing Iris and Saber- or as I think them, "Iris and OMGSABER!!!" *shameless fangirl* (Fate/Zero)
  • A canon major character in a fantastic show. (Penguindrum) I hope 46 year-old Ikuhara lives a long, long life so he can keep producing weird, wonderful shows. (Even if he only does it every 14 years. I'll take quality over quantity any day.) Some commentary on episode 15 after the jump, for anyone who has seen it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

First Impressions for Fall

Chihayafuru (2 episodes watched):
This show's biggest strength is its protagonist. 

Chihaya is trying to recruit members for a karuta club at her high school. Her school mates are (and always have been) jerks who dislike her for being a non-conformist ("Yeah, she's pretty, but you'll realize that it's wasted as soon as she does something or opens her mouth."), but she doesn't care. 

Seven minutes into the show's first episode, it segues into a flashback about how Chihaya became interested in playing karuta. It seems like the flashback wrapped up in episode 2, and the show will hopefully return to Chihaya's high school years in episode 3. Chihaya and Arata, the class outcast who Chihaya sticks up for and learns to play karuta from, are the only truly likeable characters so far, but what little we see of the teenage version of the third lead, Taichi, doesn't seem bad. Younger Taichi is a raving brat, but he gets enough character development- mostly via his exchange with his mom and his admitting to having stolen the glasses- to elicit sympathy by the end of episode 2. It's hard to tell what the bulk of this show will be like from these first two episodes but it's interesting so far and, again, Chihaya is a delightful lead. 

Chihaya has one glaring moment of stupidity in episode 2, when she says that Taichi wouldn't do anything mean even though he openly bullied Arata and pushed Chihaya when she defended him. Hopefully there won't be any more of that. 

But yes, I'm looking forward to more.

Fate/Zero (3 episodes watched):
Color me surprised. This is my favorite show this season. Fate/Zero is more tightly paced than its predecessor from the outset (no surprise, since it's shorter), more sinister, and devoid of annoying or idiotic characters. Utterly deranged characters? Yes. Machiavellian? Yes. Clueless and overly do-goodery? No. As you can probably tell, I really didn't like Shirou. (Saber's new Master Kiritsugu was taken aback by the fact that Saber is a woman, but she called him out on it.)

For anyone unfamiliar with the premise: Long ago, the three most powerful mage families combined their power to summon the Holy Grail, which can grant any wish. Unfortunately, the Holy Grail can only grant one wish each time it appears. The three families fought over it, beginning the first Holy Grail War. The Grail normally appears every sixty years, sparking another war each time. The war in Fate/Zero takes place only ten years prior to the one in Fate/Stay Night. The Grail chooses seven mages, or Masters, who can compete in the war by summoning a Servant. Servants are the super-powered versions of legendary/historical fighters like Alexander the Great, King Arthur (who, according to the Fate franchise, is really a woman and the strongest Servant), Gilgamesh, Hassan-i Sabbāh, etc. The most chilling Master/Servant combo in Fate/Zero comes about when a serial killer summons Gilles de Rais. (I knew what the outcome of that scene would be, but it was still very...effective. I was like, "No, HE WON'T LET YOU GET AWAY THAT EASILY.") I really like the assortment of Masters, and the motivations, allegiances, and enmities among them. They're all adults, which is refreshing also. I've probably made it sound like the Masters are all unpleasant people. Kiritsugu is a mixed bag- which is what makes him quite interesting- but his wife Irisviel, who serves as Saber's proxy Master, is thoroughly sympathetic; one Master is a university student who intends to disprove the widely accepted idea that one's magical ability is limited by one's pedigree; and the younger son of one of the top three mage families trains to become a Master in the hopes of saving a young girl who his family "adopted" from one of the other top three families to make her represent them in the war.

If you haven't seen Fate/Stay Night, it won't be a negative if you try Fate/Zero. If you have seen F/SN, you'll know who dies, recognize certain F/SN characters as children, and have a stronger "Yay!" or "Oh, shit," reaction when certain Servants are summoned. If you're looking for an atmospheric action/suspense show or a fantasy series that isn't a joke, this is a good bet. Plus, Saber. Shame on me for forgetting how awesome she is. And am I the only person who really enjoyed her interaction with Irisviel in episode 3, as a yuri fan? (I swear to god, this show was my favorite of the season before episode 3, despite what the glut of Saber/Irisviel pics I'm posting indicates.)

Most perspicaciously, I have finally realized what the three hottest Type Moon characters have in common: ponytails.



Bam. I just wanted an excuse for posting these.

Guilty Crown (1 episode):
An average, bored high school boy finds a scantily clad girl who needs his help. Things explode, he saves her, and he learns that he can use a super-powered sword.

Guilty Crown is a very well-produced show. But it's not what I want from Noitamina.

Hunter x Hunter (1 episode):
My sugar-coated memories of Yuu Yuu Hakusho were enough to made me try this, but not enough to keep me watching. 

This is another hyper-energetic-boy-wants-to-be-the-best-something-so-he-enters-a-tournament series, with nothing that stands out. The biggest problem is that Gon is boring. One Piece's Luffy avoids being dull even though he's a plucky shounen hero by being eccentric. (Admittedly, I've only seen a few episodes of One Piece. They were definitely fun, but I cringed at the idea of committing to a 400+ episode series with no end in sight.) Yuu Yuu Hakusho's Yusuke avoided being dull by being a snarky smart ass with a heart of gold. Edward Elric was instantly empathetic because of his motivations. (He's actually my favorite shounen lead.) Returning from my tangent, rote premise + unmemorable characters = definite pass on this series.

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon (2 episodes):
Dear Horizon

To keep me from hating you, you'll need to give the yuri couple more screentime than the amount spent on the male lead groping another girl's chest before she slams him into a wall.



Mirai Nikki (1 episode):
If you find out that someone plans to kill you soon, shortly after you enter an empty office building, what should you do?

Run away from a busy street that's full of people (and likely to have a police box, which might be handy), into an empty office building in a desolate area?

That's what Yuki, the protagonist of Mirai Nikki, does after reading the details of his impending death from his future-predicting cell phone. (Like clockwork, he also follows the horror movie habit of fleeing his pursuer by moving to a higher floor.)

When Yuki later learns the rules of the battle royale that he and the other people who own future-predicting cell phones have to participate in, he protests that the future outlined on his phone changed even though he didn't do anything to change his future. So killing the person who the phone predicted would kill him doesn't count? Even though Yuki is an idiot, this episode has two interesting points: the other battle royale participants placing Yuki highest on their target list as a result of his being over-credited for 3's killing, and the only real ally Yuki has being his stalker. I predict that she will do some gut-wrenchingly immoral things to protect Yuki, whether they're necessary or not, freaking him out even more. Will he be willing and able to piss her off by completely rejecting her? As idiotic as Yuki is, I'll give this series another shot to see what the real survival game is like.

Tamayura: Hitotose (2 episodes):
My impression of the OVA was lukewarm, but I liked the first episode of the TV series quite a bit. It shows Fuu before she moves back to the charming, old-fashioned small town where her family used to live, when she's still grieving for her dad. She returns to photography, a hobby she hadn't pursued since her father died because he did it also. This was a poignant episode that could have easily stood on its own as a short film.

The second episode, taking place after Fuu moves, is about Fuu and her new group of friends deciding to have a sleep over. It was pleasant enough, but became heart-tugging again at the end, darn it. ^_^;

Admittedly, I still haven't finished Ikoku Meiro. Ikoku Meiro is a heart-warming show with likeable characters, but it hasn't compelled me to finish it. I probably will eventually. I just don't feel like adding another laid-back, feel-good Satou Junichi show to my watch list right now.

Un-Go (1 episode):
Boring, boring, boring, and the protagonist's sidekick Inga is as annoying as I'd feared. I appreciated that the outcome of the mystery presented in this episode wasn't obvious, but this series is still a pass for me.

I finished Blood-C. It became interesting towards the end, but pissed me off again when the entire series turned out to be a 12 episode long advertisement for the Blood-C movie. I would give Blood-C a D and No. 6 a B.

From what premiered this past summer, I'm still keeping up with Morita-san ha Mukuchi and Penguindrum. (I have watched episode 14 of Penguindrum. Holy crap, that ending.)

This will be my only post for this week.

Update on 10/22: Oh. D'oh. Just found out that Fate/Zero is planned for two seasons. The second season will air in the spring. Yay!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Like last year, I've decided to make a list of 5 yuri titles that include excellent examples of coming out.

What are they this year?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Go, Fumi, go!: Aoi Hana volume 6

It's official. No protagonist can surpass Fumi in loveability.

In the aftermath of Fumi's confession to Ah-chan, Fumi, Ah-chan, Mogii, Pon-chan, and Yassan go on a trip with Haruka to her grandfather's ryoukan during summer vacation. Haruka's older sister Orie brings her girlfriend Hinako along on the trip. This works out beautifully when Fumi passes out in the ryoukan's hot spring and, after waking up with Orie and Hinako looking after her, asks Hinako for advice about her feelings for Ah-chan.

Fumi makes it clear yet again that she deeply loves Ah-chan, and Ah-chan responds as one would hope- by suggesting that she and Fumi start going out. Fumi is simultaneously happier than she's ever been and afraid because, unlike her relationship with Yasuko, she has a lot to lose if things don't work out between her and Ah-chan.

When Pon-chan, Yassan, and Fumi are in the school library one afternoon, Pon-chan asks Fumi if she's gay. Yassan can't believe she asked that and Pon-chan backtracks and apologizes, but Fumi steadily replies that yes, she is. (What a difference from when she first came out to Ah-chan.) Because Pon-chan and Yassan genuinely care for Fumi, it doesn't make a difference to them.

Fumi and Ah-chan spend Christmas together alone at Fumi's house, with Christmas cake and a bottle of champagne. In the best scene in the book, a drunk Fumi decides to lay all of her feelings bare to Ah-chan and tell her that she's afraid that Ah-chan doesn't love her in the same way she loves Ah-chan. Ah-chan clearly loves Fumi, although the nature of her love is less clear. I'm on pins and needles waiting to see how this plays out.

This volume's "Little Women" stories are especially strong. One follows a closeted teacher from Fujigaya. The other follows a student at Fujigaya who gets bullied by her school mates after they find out she's a lesbian, and comes out to the friend who gets outraged on her behalf. Like the homophobic gossip about Hinako-sensei in volume 4, these stories establish that, despite the Fujigaya student body's tittering fascination with Sugimoto and the Class S ideal of girl-girl romance, knowing women who unabashedly like women is a different story to most of them. This reinforces the fact that the people in this series live in the real world- not an Astraea Hill-like fantasy land.

Story: ❤
Art: A-
Overall: ❤❤❤A❤❤❤

While there are writers who "get it" as much as Shimura Takako, nobody surpasses her level. The people accusing her of homophobia because of the Kyouko arc that's being serialized right now can go jump off a cliff.

But yes- yay, Aoi Hana! ^____^