Breif Reaction to Tiger and Bunny’s Fire Emblem Movie-Episode

I just got back from a screening of Tiger and Bunny: The Rising. I don’t have the articulation to review it in full, but there is a point I’d like to get off my chest. While it was generally about the caliber of an average episode of the series (the fight choreography was a little sloppy, and it never felt like the villains were particularly threatening) it shined for two key reasons. First of all, that cast, with all their quirks and human aspects, is still extremely likeable. Tiger and Kaede’s father-daughter tension, Rock Bison’s fruitless struggles with unpopularity, and newcomer Golden Lion’s best Gilgamesh impersonation all made for some prime-time viewing outside of the action bits.

Second of all, the significant portions of the movie where Fire Emblem was in a coma confronting his personal demons were heavy, complicated, and absolutely engrossing. The nightmares he was having, aside from being effectively creepy, also doubled as a way of delving into his (perhaps unsurprisingly) harsh past, doing so in a non-obnoxious yet very direct way. Too, his character had both the best dialogue and best one-liners in the movie (a brilliant translation pun and an ass-kicking mini-speech). As the only hero not to get an episode devoted to him in the TV series proper, he was due for some attention. The Rising isn’t the crown jewel of the franchise, but it did his character justice; I didn’t expect that to be my main takeaway, it just ended up that way.

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Get Behind the Bandwagon: The Added Fun Value From Loving Shows Some People Hate

To some extent, I’ve always been cogniscent of the fact that I’ve gravitated towards of a variety of indicators for the success of anime, rather than just word of mouth, because I have idiosyncratic tastes and using said variety of indicators helps illustrate that the case for or against many shows isn’t as clear-cut as many narrative-spinners would have you believe.

For the record, If there’s a worse anime blogger than Rick Reilly is a sports columnist, I’ve never met them. But I’ve read too many terrible columns by sanctimonious 70-year-old baseball writers about how Yasiel Puig has zero class and too many terrible columns by sanctimonious anime bloggers about how Kill La Kill is somehow “saving” an anime* industry that isn’t actually dying or lacking for fresh content not to see a lot of similarities between the two groups. I’m not saying that all writers who take a critical perspective on anime are like this, but far too many of them are more interested in grinding an axe against a genre rather than actually having a serious discussion about it.

But something hit me after I read this recent Andrew Sharp piece (he’s also the writer of the #hotsportstake series that mocks the aforementioned type of writing) about the appeal of bandwagoning on playoff football teams. One of his criteria that jumped out at me; “Does this team piss off Phil Simms and Jim Nantz?” I hadn’t thought about it for a while, but the Rex Ryan Jets were some of my favorite bandwagons for that very reason (plus the fact that those Jets played a defense best described as a shower of linebacker-shaped meteors backed by Darelle Revis eclipsing the sun). While my appreciation of a show is maximum when a show is great, my enjoyment of a show in a holistic sense is more of a 60-20-20 combination of 3 factors:

1. How much I enjoy it.

2. How well it performs commercially, usually in disk sales but potentially in other categories. It has to at least be a lock argument for having had break even sales.

3. The presence of a persistent group of (for lack of a better word) haters. Not just people who sort-of dislike and avoid it, but people who can’t resist taking paragraph-long potshots at it any time it gets mentioned.

This means that, as good as Attack on Titan was, it’s not a max-entertainment bandwagon. No one of any consequence particularly hates the show, and it’s just done really well. By contrast, Girls und Panzer was a near-perfect bandwagon show, putting up megahit numbers in the face of a number of vocal and hilariously ineffectual critics (it would be on my shortlist already if I weren’t currently watching it). There is really nothing sweeter in fandom than watching a show pile up vocal critics and subsequently both be good and sell well in spite of them. This post contains my personal shortlist of series I’ve had the privilege of being a fan of long enough to watch them do the Shaq thing and dunk all over the place.

To clarify before I actually get to the list, I don’t believe it’s a bad thing to hold any particular set of opinions. I do believe it’s a bad thing to constantly spend time talking scrap about stuff you don’t enjoy, and more generally about the way things are, rather than actually doing something about it. If you’re so upset about the majority of anime that get made nowadays, put up and post links to the BDs of the series you do like on your blog, or just buy them yourself. It’s trivially easy to use amazon for that sort of thing in this day and age.

That said, here are my personal bandwagon favorites of the past several years:

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First Reactions: Free! Episode 12 (End) and Quickie Scores (8/10)

The two biggest unresolved plot threads of Free going into the final episode (Rin’s suspension from the relay team and the effects on his and Haru’s burgeoning rivalry) closely shadowed one of the show’s bigger strengths (its strong cast) but weren’t exactly playing to the show’s big strength; its kinetic visual sense. Given that, the direction the ending went wasn’t a huge shock. Though it was admittedly not one hundred percent something that I had anticipated, it still went down the right pipe.

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First Reactions: Free! Episode 11

Before the episode, a point: Free’s first volume posted a combined BD/DVD sales figure of 25,000 volumes. If this stays above 20,000 copies per volume (it will), it’ll log in as Kyoto Animation’s best-selling TV title since Houkago Teatime planted their feet in London. If it gets a decent second week boost, there’s a non-negligible chance it passes Clannad’s 24,808 average and goes into the studio’s all-time top 5 behind Haruhi, Lucky Star, and the K-ons. Oh, and that mark is generally good for somewhere between the 40th and 60th best selling TV anime of all time. Those are some legit numbers. By accounts I’ve heard, the farm-system novel that birthed Free, High Speed, is playing out fairly directly on the screen and doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. That said, if I were an exec at Kadokawa I’d be doing my best trying to see if I could finagle one in. Remember, ignoring whether or not the ending is open or closed, 50 percent of anime that sell 4000 copies per volume or more get a sequel. I did some garbage calculations with a smaller sample of the 27 non-sequels to sell 20k+ volumes, and found that all but 8 eventually got movie or TV sequels of some kind. That said, 2 of those 8 were Kyoto Animation products.*

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First Reactions: Free! Episode 2 (Plus Too-Long Footnotes on Why Summer 2013 Will End Up Being a Better Season Than Spring 2013)

Based on what I’ve seen of reactions to Free on the internet, it seems like a large quantity of people are ruling it out with one glance at the promo material rather than 20 minutes of episode time. It’s becoming increasingly obvious how much of a shame that is, because this show is complete in ways it didn’t even have to be to be an enjoyable ride.

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Lists Are Fun to Make: Favorite Anime Episodes by Title

Full Disclosure: I like making lists. This particular list is the result of an afternoon of me sitting down and trying to list all the anime episode titles I remember. This correlates pretty well with my actual favorite anime episodes, because I’ve seen most of them enough times to remember their titles. When making this one, I set myself a limit at 60 and reached it fairly quickly. After making the list, I actually ranked them. So yeah, had a lot of fun with this one.

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Adventures in Sound Direction: Your Folk Blues Are Real

So a while ago I wrote about veteran Sound Director Katsuyoshi Kobayashi’s wizardly handling of Space Brothers’ audio. At the time, I had to look up his name on ann, but I didn’t check his specific creator page. The other day, I went back and finally did. It turns out this isn’t the only anime-of-the-decade candidate* he’s worked on with a director named Watanabe. In celebration of this individual who’s handled a number of sublime auditory anime experiences and yet has to date zero comments or favorites on his myanimelist page, I’m going to spend this column by talking about the musically crafted battle sequence to trump (almost) all others, the last 6 minutes of Cowboy Bebop.

(This post contains obvious ending spoilers for a 15-year-old show that you either have watched or will find yourself watching the moment you inform someone who has that you haven’t. So there.) Continue reading

The Greatest Introduction: Anatomy of the Chase Scene

Here’s a somewhat open-ended question: what’s the best way to open an anime with a complex plot?

There’s a lot of information the user needs to absorb, so maybe they start with a quick opening narration to offload info about the world? If not, then what about a character going about an average day in this complex world, to make it seem more normal? Is it possible a battle right off the bat would make things more exciting? I argue that the best method is none of these, though it does take some of the better elements from each.

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