Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Non Non Biyori, and Unbreakable Machine Doll

I put myself on the record this August saying that Arpeggio might be the Those Who Hunt Elves of the modern era, with the potential to sell well enough to launch an industry trend. Only this time with all-CG animation instead of late-night TV timeslots. The CG is still a tad weak when used for big movements, or presentation that would be more exaggerated in a hand-drawn series, and it took me about halfway through the episode to get accustomed to. But once I did, there was very little not to love. Kishi Seiji is doing a good job of keeping most of the body language to more small, natural-looking motions and making every frame of that count. The big flourishes were, as expected, saved for the naval battle sequences, which looked mighty fine. The story, a large-scale ambitious beast and looking to create a sci-fi world without putting everything in space, also appears highly intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the crew, presumably a Nadesico-style quirky bunch of doers, gels together as a group as the series goes on. I’ve got at least 3 weeks worth of interest in this one.

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Especially since these sub battles are going to be regular things

Oonuma Shin is sitting this season out, but one of the prospects at studio Silver Link got his crack at being in charge today. And the result was just as backgroundy as I could have hoped for. The intro was spiffy thanks to the scenery, and the rest of the episode carried on with a fun, slow pace with echoes of Hidamari Sketch and Yuyushiki. It’s getting 2 more episodes from me to see if it stays fun and consistent.

Speaking of typically one-director studios branching out, Unbreakable Machine Doll would be the only the second Studio Lerche project not helmed by Kishi Seiji. But it didn’t show much of a dropoff, and packed a mean punch with an early, fresh-feeling train action sequence. The steampunk setting seemed to offer some depth, but it turned out to be ostensibly just a battle academy series in the vein of Yugioh GX or Phi Brain, albiet with pretty action. I might have kept up with it in a less busy season, but right now I don’t see a strong appeal. Dropped.

First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episodes 11 and 12

Sorry for the incredibly late updates. I’ve had a busy time lately that I’d like to claim is all work’s fault, but it really has as much to do with Valkyria Chronicles 2 and the general greatness of Gatchaman Crowds. Which I’ve rewatched episodes of for hours episode 10 specifically, and is definitely the turning point pushing Kenji Nakamura past the ranks of very, very good situational directors into the tier of “watch me nail this magic trick I’ve never done before,” greats.*

Anyway, I’ll be getting back to writing over this weekend, skipping pics and just dishing my thoughts on the shows I was supposed to be covering** until I’m caught up. Also, look forward to some more crunched numbers; I’ve been running some data on anime adaptations of award-winning manga and the frequency of mecha anime pre- and post-3D mech animation techniques that should be ready relatively soon.

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 9

Togami’s been an unremarkable character for most of the series. I say that because this episode he really stood out, pulling a Barry Marshall and drinking what was ostensibly poison to prove his point. Even before I knew what that point was, I was hooked on his presentation there. There’s levels of differences in the body language between a sip and a chug, and this was the latter.

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Where Might Future Changes in Anime Lie?

I just spent the past week and a half or so writing about how the anime industry responded to various changes in technology over the years. While I was writing those articles, I noticed that the changes occurred roughly every five years or so, and, going by that observation, we were “due” for another change soon. While the notion of things being “due” in general is a fairly foolish one, it did serve as the spark for a brainstorm about where that change might eventually come from. Eventually, I came across two possibilities that I felt were worth talking about: Web Anime and 3DCG anime.

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 7

Without a doubt, the most impressive thing about this show is the sheer number of ways they’ve managed to work in a Monokuma enjoying himself in the background. This time might have been my favorite, because you can just barely tell he’s now using the Oowada butter on his pancakes.

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Hot-blooded, so it melts in your mouth

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 5

Monokuma’s background antics made this episode. But there was definitely a lot to like elsewhere.

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Somewhere out there, a terrible writer is making a joke about not being allowed to bring pot in a courtroom

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 4

One of the big draws of this show is its varied character designs, and up till now it’s mainly been letting each personality tell its own story. This week, it kicked things up a notch and really gave us a lot more of the characters spending time with each other. The scene showcasing the rising tension was as solid as the early episodes were, but the comedy was vintage Kishi Seiji.* Between numerous scenes proving that Shoukiin Kagerou would have a field day with every one of them and the sauna scene proving that Ishimaru and Oowada were bad enough to be right at home being captains in Kaiser Reinhard’s fleet, pretty much every joke was a dead-on critical critical. What’s even better is that including all that didn’t disrupt the series’ appreciably fast pacing.

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 3

Dangan Ronpa is so damn campy. But I love campy. So I love it. In all seriousness, there was a choice to be made when this anime was adapted. The staff could take the source material and turn it into a serious work about a bunch of teenagers forced to kill each other in a sadistic game they’ve been trapped inside of. Not that that genre is at all saturated. Or they could just make an anime that celebrates the already zany source material and went wild with the game-adaptation portion. There were plenty of points this episode where I found myself thinking “oh yeah, this is a game adaptation”, but there were exactly zero where I found myself minding.

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Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Dangan Ronpa, Go-Home Club, and Servant x Service

After sampling a bunch of try-hard comedies, it’s time to get to the real meat of Thursday’s crop. Or at least the stuff that was top-3 on himawari douga when I kicked up the streams.

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First Reactions: Devil Survivor 2 Episode 9

The thing about a Kishi Seiji series is that each moment is like casting a die; it could be great or it could be garbage. This episode was a pretty good example of that principle in a nutshell, as it suddenly pulled competency out of nowhere and ended up being pretty fun to watch.

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