Fushigi Yuugi 11-12: Priestess of Seiryuu/Only You

STRONG content warning for sexual assault, self-harm, and attempted suicide

Episode 11: Priestess of Seiryuu

There’s a lot of plot happening in this one, folks, so buckle in.

Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Miaka narrowly avoided getting killed, despite making a lot of terribly irresponsible decisions, and found Yui. Funnily, the opening narration says it’s “as if through the divine intervention of Suzaku”, making it quite clear that this plot contrivance is a huge stretch!

The first rule of entering enemy territory is to be careful and keep your wits about you. Miaka has fairly little in the way of wits to begin with, so she makes the careless mistake of dropping her bag on the floor and revealing that she has the scroll marking her as the Priestess of Suzaku. The emperor calls for the guards, so Miaka shows self-preservation instincts for the first time in several episodes, grabs Yui, and takes off running. Continue reading “Fushigi Yuugi 11-12: Priestess of Seiryuu/Only You”

Interviews with Monster Girls: Succubus-san is Guilty until Proven Innocent

Content Warnings: Ace erasure, sexual assault, victim blaming

When Interviews with Monster Girls premiered two months ago, it surprised many fans by treating its subject, demi-humans, as an allegory for disability rather than fetishistized harem material. The first episode treated the concept with unusual sensitivity for the genre, highlighting how the girls’ unique needs must be accommodated to ensure equality, rather than treating everyone exactly the same way. Since then, the series has made a number of missteps, despite what I can only assume are the best of intentions, but its well-meaning sincerity generally makes up for it.

The seventh episode, “Succubus-san is Inquisitive,” features Sakie Satou, a succubus trying to live in the mainstream as a teacher despite how she involuntarily arouses men simply by existing, and Detective Ugaki, the police officer who has been tracking her for most of her life. Because of the poorly-handled inclusion of real-life issues such as covert photography and train molestation, this is easily the most awkward and uncomfortable episode yet.

Continue reading “Interviews with Monster Girls: Succubus-san is Guilty until Proven Innocent”

Fushigi Yugi: Enemies Unseen/Looking for Yui

Episodes 7/8

Episode 9: Enemies Unseen

Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Miaka jumped back in the book in order to make out with Tamahome rescue Yui, and finds that relations between Kutou and Konan have gone sour, while her best friend is nowhere to be found. HMMM I WONDER WHERE SHE COULD BE????????

The episode opens just after the touching reunion between Miaka and Tamahome, when lights flash from the trees and a pair of hands reach out of the woods and pull her… somewhere? There’s literally no background drawn so it looks like she’s in another dimension. She bites the hand of her supposed attacker, hard, proving once again that she does have some fight in her when convenient. Her abductor, a fox-faced, goofy-voiced man informs her that she was under attack – in the English version he snarks that he should have asked before rescuing her, while in the Japanese version he just says he doesn’t blame her. Why is the dub so mean? He disappears into his hat, and despite all the strange things Miaka has seen, she’s confused.

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Continue reading “Fushigi Yugi: Enemies Unseen/Looking for Yui”

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Sukeroku Hen 1-5: The Why and What of “Wa”

Thank you to Michelle for your help in researching female rakugoka!

About a year ago, I wrote about Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu’s Konatsu. A young woman born into the all-male performing art of rakugo, she was cursed to be an outsider in the only world she knew. Her bitterness was further fueled by her toxic relationship with Yakumo, her emotionally distant foster father whom she believed killed her biological father. However, the show’s first season focused on Konatsu’s father and Yakumo, so we didn’t get to see how Konatsu’s arc would play out. The show’s sequel, Sukeroku-hen, is running this season. It brings the focus back to Konatsu, her hapless husband Yotaro, their son Shinnosuke, and the bitter, elderly Yakumo. The Konatsu of the second season, thus far, is recognizable, but a major shift in her attitude makes me wonder where the show is going.

Continue reading “Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Sukeroku Hen 1-5: The Why and What of “Wa””

Fall 2016 First Look

Sigh.

It seems like every other season, I tell myself that I’m going to find a new way to keep current on the blog, to find a way to discuss my thoughts and impressions of the shows I’m watching that week, and it somehow always falls through. It may be because life happens or I get busy, or because I decide that I don’t have something new to say about each show each week, or I decide I’m going to work on my backlog that season, or I just don’t have it in me to write 1000 words each about every show I’m watching. No matter what, I end up struggling to keep up with the shows that season.

So, of course that means it’s time to try again with a new format!

So here’s the new format: every week, I’ll post my thoughts, impressions, and predictions of each new episode that I’ve watched. If something relevant happens in the anime news, I may post my take on that as well. I’m not wasting my time sampling every new show; last time I tried that, it was exhausting and a lot of time and effort for not much reward. Instead, I’m only going to watch the ones that pique my interest and I think the readers of this blog will be interested in. Let’s see how this goes. So without further ado…

Continue reading “Fall 2016 First Look”

Please Tell Me! Galko-chan: The Grossest Educational Anime You’ll Ever Watch

More often than not, the new anime season has a surprise. It could be a highly anticipated show that ends up dropping the ball in unexpected ways; it could also be a show no one was paying much attention to that ended up being unexpectedly funny, thoughtful, or otherwise high quality. Last year had a number of the latter sort, such as Osomatsu-san and Maria the Virgin Witch. Winter 2016 has been going pretty much as expected – the shows everyone expected to be good are good, and the ones generally expected to be crap are. This season’s biggest surprise is Please Tell Me! Galko-chan, a short series made up of seven-minute episodes. Based on the promotional art – specifically, the main character’s enormous breasts vacuum-packed into her cardigan – it looked to be an unremarkable fan service show. However, the positive word of mouth it was getting after the first episode intrigued me, and I decided to check it out despite my better judgment. I’m glad I did, because rather than perverse, male-oriented comedy, I got a charming series about three teenage girls frankly discussing their bodies without shying away from the grosser parts of the human experience.

Continue reading “Please Tell Me! Galko-chan: The Grossest Educational Anime You’ll Ever Watch”

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju 1-2: It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World

Note: As always, this analysis assumes the reader has seen the episodes being discussed.t224

Rakugo is a traditional form of Japanese theater in which a lone performer, aka the rakugoka, sits alone on a stage with only a small cloth and fan for props. They tell a story, usually comedic, involving multiple people, distinguishing the characters using only their voice and mannerisms. Rather than making up their material, rakugoka have an established body of material to work with but are expected to put their own spin on the story. These days, it’s considered the domain of fussy old people, but it was once populist entertainment.

Like most traditional performance arts, rakugo is completely male-dominated. Once it was the sole domain of men, since most of the characters in the stories were male and it would have been odd to hear women using masculine speech patterns. Nowadays the field has opened somewhat, with women and foreigners (and occasionally both!) among top performers. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu takes place before that shift, however, and the gender dynamic inherent in such an unequal system informs much of the show.

Continue reading “Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju 1-2: It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World”

Winter 2016 First Look: Part 2

Sekko Boys

Miki Ishimoto hated art school. She hated sketching geometric shapes and sculptures and she hated her teachers for criticizing her for deviating from the models. She’s excited to leave that whole world behind when she gets a job managing the hot new idol group, Sekko Boys. Much to her dismay, she discovers the members of Sekko Boys – St. George, Mars, Hermes, and Medici – are all marble busts. Available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Well, that was silly! The premise of Sekko Boys is utterly surreal, and well-aware of it. The episode opens with the boys performing to a stadium full of glowstick-wielding screaming fangirls. They shout their catchphrases, setting up their personalities: Mars is a warrior but also a passionate lover, Hermes is beautiful and multitalented, St. George is a protector of the weak, and Medici is charming and innocent. Yes, this is a world where marble busts are alive sentient, retain the personalities of the the ones they represent, but also are still heavy statues that must be carried and carted from place to place, injuring their handlers’ backs in the process. Working in a profession where back pain and other stress injuries are a major occupational hazard, I felt for Yanagisawa, their chief manager.

Artists, on the other hand, will doubtless feel for Miki’s backstory. Her frustration at endlessly copying the masters in the name of developing fundamentals, without her teachers ever allowing her to put her spin on things, is a common complaint, as is her resulting burnout. Much of the episode’s humor, other than the sheer absurdity of the premise, stems from her shock and horror at being confronted with the exact subject of her anger at a completely separate job.

The verdict: Sekko Boys’ premise is unlike any other, to be sure. I look forward to seeing how the silliness develops.

Likelihood of weekly coverage: Low. It’s too light to really warrant any heavy discussion.

Continue reading “Winter 2016 First Look: Part 2”

Winter 2016 Anime Roundup: Part 1

A popular thing to do among anibloggers is to watch the first episode of every new show each season. Me, I don’t roll that way. I simply don’t have the time or energy to watch four or five new episodes of anime each night – I tried it once and I didn’t even enjoy the ones I felt like I should have, because I burned out so fast. I prefer to watch whatever catches my eye and/or is getting good word of mouth. Sometimes they’re everything I was hoping for, but just as often, they’re duds… but at least I didn’t waste my time watching shows I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. This season, I’m also on the lookout for shows that would be worth giving weekly coverage from the point of view of the blog.

Without further ado, let’s look at the shows!

Continue reading “Winter 2016 Anime Roundup: Part 1”

Fushigi Yugi: Going Home/Brief Parting

Trigger Warnings this installment: Blood, Homo/Transphobia

Episode 7: Going Home

Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Three idiots almost bleed to death, Nuriko is the only smart one.

Taiitsukun, after trying to murder all three of them, appears! Miaka and Hotohori are both extremely rude to her and make fun of her for being a wrinkled old woman, instead of giving the literal goddess the goddamn respect she deserves. Even powerful women are worthless if they’re not young and cute!

Taiitsukun reveals that yes, she was the one who sent Mirror Miaka after them. She wanted to “test their willingness to help one another.” This really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If it was just a test, why did she cackle and say they “wouldn’t reach Mt. Taikyoku in one piece?” That smacks of malice. And how was Shadow Miaka supposed to create a willingness to help each other? She mostly sowed the seeds of strife in the group by outing Nuriko and flirting with Hotohori instead of Tamahome. This isn’t Persona, where they have some means of battling the shadow as a symbol of emotional support. Sure, they realized she wasn’t the real thing, but that’s not helping, that’s just knowing each other. And Taiitsukun herself said she was shocked by Miaka attempting suicide to stop her. How else was Miaka supposed to break free? Was she only one whose willingness to help the others being tested?

Continue reading “Fushigi Yugi: Going Home/Brief Parting”