Surly Summaries: Rokka no Yuusha

Ok so Rokka no Yuusha finished airing last Saturday, and I have to say I was a little disappointed.  Not so much with the series as a whole as with the actual final episode, I thought the ending was handled badly but overall the show was alright.  From here on there will be spoilers, you have been warned.

Let’s start with the broad list of things I liked.  I like the setting, both in terms of its lore, with the fiends and Saints, and with it’s clearly Mesoamerican character.  It made the show really stand out when some of the first settings we see are colorful depictions of the massive step-pyramids commonly associated with the Aztecs.  It’s not a setting I think I’ve ever seen before, so hat’s off to the creators.  Likewise I liked how the fiends actually had the same kind of Mesoamerican look and feel to them, although I was not a fan of how all the fiends were CG because they looked so fake compared to the human characters.  I also liked most of the environments and the lush colors used to bring the world and characters to life.  And speaking of the characters…

For the most part I’d say they’re pretty good.  Adlet occasionally gets annoying when he calls himself the strongest man in the world over and over, but I was big fan of how he was basically a normal dude who trained hard and fought with exotic weapons even though all of the other Braves were either geniuses or Saints.  A good touch.  As for the rest, I think Hans, Flemy, Chamot and Maura all did a pretty good job.  Their characters were pretty basic for the most part but they played their roles well and I loved the voice-acting for those 4 in particular.  Nachetanya definitely got me when she turned out to be the seventh Brave, but aside from that great twist I felt like her character was a bit too disjointed and inconsistent.  There were times when she was extremely emotional and naive, but then she could also suddenly go cold and observant even though it didn’t really fit with her character.  Goldov was just too bland.  Like the strong and silent type is fine but in a series this colorful, both in its color palettes and character behavior, the somber dude in black just doesn’t fit in well.

Now I expect some of you want to see me bitch about how the series was too slow and there wasn’t enough action or something like that.  But honestly I don’t have much to complain about on that front.  Yes some of the episodes were pretty slow but this show was mostly one drawn out game of Clue, the key to the show was never action but character interaction.  And on that front I think they generally did a good job.  The characters were generally pretty compelling, I always wanted to know more about them but I always felt like I understood them well enough to grasp the logic of their actions.   Also the less ugly CG the better.

But with all of this mostly in its favor how come I thought the ending sucked?  Ok understand that the twist with Nachetanya was good.  My problem is that the twist is the climax and in storytelling, the story should slow down after a climax, even if the overall conflict is not resolved.  Instead Rokka no Yuusha introduces a new Seventh Brave in last few minutes of the final episode, rendering the previous climax all but meaningless.  Now we have a drastic new plot development in the final scenes of the story.  You don’t want that, instead it would have made much more sense to add Rolina, the new Brave, in during episode 1 or 2 of the next season of Rokka no Yuusha.  Ideally it would have gone like this: Nachetanya turns out to be the fake, Adlet recovers, the six Braves go out to fight with the King’s blessing.  Season one ends.  Season two begins.  The six Braves kill a bunch of fiends as they make their way to the Land of Howling Demons.  Just as they reach the border, they find Rolina who wonders what took the rest of Braves so long to get to the usual rendezvous point.  Then Rolina notices there are already six Braves and the cycle of mistrust begins anew.  Instead Rolina enters with a few minutes to spare, everyone gets confused and then they say “Fuck it, let’s go to the land of Howling Demons with the second fake Brave in our midst”.  Now instead of the series climaxing with Nachetanya’s betrayal and the Braves recollecting their resolve to fight the Demon King, the series feels like it has no climax at all, which makes for a thoroughly unsatisfying end to the first season.

And that’s all, hope you enjoyed it.

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So I’ve Been Nominated for an Award… Yet Again.

wakuwafu award

So here I was settling down after a back to back challenge and award, when all of a sudden another award came my way.  This is the Wakuwafu award, created by the blog of the same name. Here’s the link for you guys: Wakuwafu 

A big thanks to Zaktaku of The Anime Analyst for nominating me for this award.  Let the proceedings commence.

Rules and Regulations

  1. Thank the person who has nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Choose any 3 things you would like to say about yourself to your fellow bloggers.
  3. Think up 3 questions you would like to ask the people you nominate.
  4. Give one piece of advice to your fellow bloggers.
  5. Make sure to tell us over here that you have been nominated (and/ or completed the award) so that we can put your blog up on the WakuWafu page! Make sure to put down your blog in the comments section!

The Questions 3 Asked of Me:

  1. Why did you start blogging?

I spent a fair amount of time watching passionate people make great reviews and videos about the things they liked.  Then I started to write some reviews for myself, just private projects for me to put my thoughts down on paper.  Then after watching more passionate people say more interesting things I thought “Fuck it, I’m one of those passionate people and I’m tired of just talking to myself”, so I started a blog.

  1. If you were making a time capsule, what anime would you preserve for the people who opened it?

This is a really tough question, there are so many to like and only one to save.  I would probably end up preserving Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, because our future youth needs to see how awesome we were back in the day.

  1. Where would you go if you could be anywhere in existence?

Another tough question.  I think I’d go back in time to let’s say Rome, right after the Coliseum was built.  I’d love to see what the world of antiquity looked like at the height of its glory.

 3 Mysteries of my Person Revealed:

  • I once played Halo 3 with a Pro StarCraft 2 player and won the round.
  • I have a pair of buoys in my backyard because my friends and I stole them from a nearby lake when the water was super low a few years ago.
  • I actually tried out kendo for a little while in an attempt to be more otaku-ish without resorting to cosplaying, fanfic or blogging.

My Sagely Advice to Other Bloggers:

Effort pays off, so even when you feel like nothing is going your way, don’t be discouraged and throw your all into your work.  Back when I first started blogging I had no hits for the first few days and then like 1 or 2 for the next couple.  But regardless of the results I wrote 2 posts a day for 2 weeks straight.  And now I’m on my third award nomination, I consistently get a decent number of hits and I’ve met a bunch of cool bloggers who give me support.  Hard work pays off, even when the results don’t happen right away, people will notice the effort and you will be rewarded.

My Nominees:

 Holysorrows

Akko Anime

DataportDoll

My Queries:

  1. What is your favorite genre of anime and why?
  2. What character or group of characters do you hate most?
  3. If you were suddenly attacked by an unarmed stranger and had the chance to grab one fruit or vegetable to defend yourself with, what would your food of choice be and how would you use it?

Letter of Challenge: Resolution

3 Day Quote Challenge

Day 3 of 3

First off I’d like to extend my gratitude to Akko Anime, who sent the challenge.  I was hitting some serious writer’s block and this gives me something fun to do, truly I can’t thank you enough.  I love quoting things and this has been a lot of fun.

Rules and Regulations:

  • Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
  • Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you

And the final quote is:

“Actually, I’m a deviant as far as Kyotouryuu is concerned.  But think of it this way, Chouchou-san.  Stances are useless to begin with.  If you change your stance in reaction every little thing that happens won’t you become slower?  I can read exactly what you plan to do next from your stance.  You’ve already revealed to me any mysteries your Kenpou might have had.  Just by taking that stance.  If I had to give mine a name it would be Kyotouryuu, zero stance: Fig Tree.  Or something like that.” -Yasuri Nanami from Katanagatari

Ok this quote needs a little context.  First off the character is talking about fighting stances (kamai) in case you couldn’t tell.  If you’ve done any kind of martial art or similar activity then you probably already know that stances are pretty important.  To give a simple example, anyone can throw a punch but not everyone is a boxer.  Why?  Because boxing requires you to maintain a certain fighting stance as you fight and that stance gives you an advantage, generally stances are designed to make your movements, attacks, and blocks more efficient.  It also takes a lot of focus and energy to maintain which is why boxing takes lots of practice and not everyone can do it.  So if a normal person told me stances were useless I’d call them stupid.  But Yasuri Nanami is anything but normal.

It might be hard to tell from the text alone but Nanami is saying all of this very nonchalantly.  I know anime characters generally rarely fear death in any series where battles are common and many get excited by the prospect of fighting someone strong, but it’s rare to find someone who is so comfortable and unconcerned just before a fight breaks out.  That’s usually a time for both sides to tense up and maybe trade some one liners before duking it out, not to stand there and talk with all the urgency of discussing the weather.  Not only that but what Nanami is saying is kind of terrifying, not only does she see one of the fundamentals of martial arts to be nothing more than a hindrance, she can turn what is supposed to be a strength into a weakness, stripping stances of all of their power with nothing but a glance.

As to why I chose this quote… have you ever seen a scene that scares you every time you see it?  Because usually when you know something is coming, that foreknowledge robs the scene or event of much of its power.  But not here.  I’ve rewatched Katanagatari many times but the scene where this little speech happens always makes my hairs stand on end and sends chills down my spine.  If anything my foreknowledge of the scene only enhances the power of the scene rather than takes away from it.  Unlike the other quotes I chose this one doesn’t have particularly noteworthy voice acting, in fact if all you had to on was the audio this quote would likely be kind of boring.  But it marks the rise of one the most terrifying fictional characters I’ve ever come across.  And in honor of that most auspicious occasion I figured that using the words which usher it in was fitting.  Also I can’t recommend Katanagatari highly enough, it is my favorite anime after all.

MY NOMINEES:

Rooster Illusion

Geekritique

Viewer Discretion is Advised

Unpopular Opinion: Nichijou

Warning, there will be spoilers for Nichijou ahead.  Note: this means very little in a practical sense because Nichijou is wall to wall insanity and trying to explain the plot is like trying to walk on the sun, you burn out long before it happens.  Joking aside, there isn’t too much to analyze in terms of plot for Nichijou so this Unpopular Opinion will be a little different from the norm.  I’m going to explore what Nichijou does and explain why I think it works, in comparison to your typical, everyday slice of life show.  Let it begin.

Understand first that I really like Nichijou, it’s one of my favorite slice of life shows and among my top picks for anime comedies.  This also means it’s not for everyone because I take a perverse pleasure in deviating from community consensus on what shows are good most of the time.  It’s also a show I think you will appreciate best if you are a proper otaku, I’m not putting down new or casual fans but I think this show was written with otaku in mind and that a lot of its success as a comedy hinges on the fact that the viewer is an otaku.  Ok that’s enough preface, time to begin for real.

In order to understand why Nichijou works you have to understand some of the basics of the slice of life genre, particularly slice of life comedies.  The basics are as follows.  An abundance of or reliance on tried tropes and archetypes like tsunderes and beach episodes.  The setting is usually high school and most of the show involves club activities or other day to day life events.  Typically the humor follows the common Japanese comedy model where there are members of the group who are somewhat crazy or lack common sense and it’s the job of one character to play the straight man, who reacts to their shenanigans with shock and some kind of rebuke or suggestion.  If you want to see how this model works very clearly watch D-Frag, that show masters the routine and even has a few fourth wall jokes about it.  For a normal slice of life show, the key is finding the proper balance between realistically depicting everyday life and throwing in enough anime hallmarks to please the anime fans.  This is an oversimplified generalization but whatever, it makes my next point look cooler.  Nichijou is essentially an inversion of the typical slice of life show.  If a typical slice of life show asks “how can depict everyday real life in a believable way and still have just enough ‘anime’ stuff to keep the fans coming back?”, then Nichijou asks “how do we make everyday real life as anime as possible?”.  And it answers its own question with daring and aplomb.

Basically it means that anything a slice of life show would do, Nichijou will overdo.  It will overdo it with Gurren Lagann levels of over the top animation.  Nichijou refuses to restrain it’s everyday events with realism, it makes them as awesomely overblown as it can.  For example there is a scene where two people run into each other and the result is a huge explosion.  In a typical slice of life the tsundere will get embarrassed and say things like “it’s not like I like you or anything… BAKA!!!”.  In Nichijou a tsundere will literally pull cannons out from thin air and blow away the target of her affection in her embarrassment.  This is part of the reason I think Nichijou is for otaku more so than newcomers or casual fans.  It plays up all the tropes we know and love to a ridiculous level and if your tolerance for such things is low, well you likely didn’t make it far in this show.  This style hinges on the audience knowing and to some extent loving the tropes of the slice of life genre and being sufficiently exposed to the weird and ridiculous parts of anime.

Another thing Nichijou does differently is that it generally doesn’t follow the conventional model of comedy.  Nichijou is more eccentric and prefers non sequitur humor over the traditional goofball and straight man gags.  It also has plenty of WTF moments and jokes or mini-stories that seem way out of left field.  But despite all this grab-bag of nonsense and insanity there is a common feature to many of Nichijou’s seemingly random jokes, they generally involve parts of Japanese culture that pops in more typical slice of life shows.  For example many slice of life shows feature a festival episode, in Nichijou they have a running gag with a particular festival stall and its attendant mascot.  A school camping trip is also common to many slice of life shows and Nichijou has great little spoof of a typical camping trip.  This is the other main reason I think Nichijou is aimed at otaku, it expects the fans to recognize the situations and settings being used in its gags and it’s way funnier if you can see how the usual trope is either spoofed or inverted.   This even extends to the characters to some extent.  Yuko is an extreme form of the usual genki character, Mai is dandere troll and Mio is a fujoshi.  If you’re an otaku you probably already know what them Japanese words mean and I don’t have to explain.  But in case you don’t here’s the translation.  Genki = energetic character, usually good at sports but kind of dumb.  Dandere = quiet lady type, think Rei from Evangelion.  Fujoshi = a young woman who enjoys Yaoi stuff, literally means “rotten girl”.  This is a show for otaku, probably made by otaku considering much of its style and humor.  What does this mean in a practical sense?

It means the show is both extremely well targeted but also narrowly focused.  It’s a niche show for a niche crowd and in that regard I think it did a really good job of marking itself out to its intended audience.  It also means the show is very unique and that’s not something I usually get to say especially where slice of life is concerned.  There’s a huge over-abundance of slice of life shows and more keep coming out every season, so I can understand why many of you out there would be tempted to pass this show up.  However I highly recommend it, provided you consider yourself a proper otaku and feel you are ready for the insanity you will find here.  Slice of life is not my genre of choice but Nichijou is something special and I think you owe it yourself to give it a shot.  Anyway that’s about all I have to say about Nichijou.  Hopefully you enjoyed it and I’ll see you in the next one.

Letter of Challenge: Rebuttal

3 Day Quote Challenge

Day 2 of 3

First off I’d like to extend my gratitude to Akko Anime, who sent the challenge.  I was hitting some serious writer’s block and this gives me something fun to do, truly I can’t thank you enough.  I love quoting things so this should be a lot of fun.

Rules and Regulations:

  • Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
  • Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you

And the second quote is :

“The word ‘general’ is no different from ‘squadron commander’ or ‘battalion commander’, merely the name for a rank and a duty.  Nevertheless, very few ever make it that far.  It is a place that can only be reached by those who have come back from death’s door many times and achieved many great feats.  In consequence, a general gets the responsibility and tremendous honor of fighting with the lives of millions at his command.  Therefore his presence is weighty.  Therefore he shines bright enough to dazzle.” -Wang Yi/Ouki from Kingdom.

This was a tough one.  Originally I was leaning towards Iskandar’s speech on the nature of kings from Fate Zero since it has a similar message.  However I switched to this one because the voice acting and delivery of this little speech blows Iskandar’s out of the water and that is no easy feat.  I’m also a big fan of Kingdom so that may have helped.  As for why I chose a quote like this one, it’s both inspiring and insightful.  Anime characters talk a lot but rarely do the best members of any given profession talk about their profession in any level of detail.  So hearing the opinions of a great general about what makes a general special is a rare treat.  It also speaks to the great heights individuals can reach, the trials they overcame to get there and what the rewards of their trials are.  If you want a scene that you can sit back and wowed by over and over, this scene towards the very end of episode 38, where Wang Yi gives this speech is such a moment.  Speeches rarely get much better than this one.

MY NOMINEES:

Holysorrows

Inspririomundus

FantasyandAnime

So I’ve Been Nominated for an Award… Again.

real-neat-blog-award

Well it’s been a bit of slow week for me.  So imagine my surprise when I receive both a challenge and an award shortly thereafter.  These are most fortuitous portents indeed, my readers.  I want to give a massive “Arigato gozai-masu” to Zaktaku of the Anime Analyst for nominating me for another award, your dedicated support is too generous.  Anyway on with the proceedings.

Rules and Regulations:

  1. Put the award logo on your blog
  2. Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  3. Thank the person who nominated you, link to their blogs
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, link to their blogs
  5. Let them know you nominated them
  6. Ask the bloggers 7 new questions

 

Questions:

  1. You are trapped on a tropical island, and must make it to land. Which 5 anime characters would be stranded with you to help?

Answer:  If I had five companions to help me get from a deserted island back to land my allies would be: 1-Gaudi from Nobunagun because he can basically build anything he wants from any material and that should come in handy. 2-Sakuraba Shu from Joukamachi no Dandelion because he can teleport and that should speed things up.  3-Ren Kougyoku from Magi because her Djinn Equip can summon tidal waves and I want to arrive from the sea in style.  4-Tendou Pain from Naruto because his gravity pulls would make fishing stupidly easy and I need food for the journey.  And 5-Hibiki from Fairy Tail because his Archive magic should have access to maps and maps are really, really important.

  1. What is your absolute favorite anime, and why?

Answer: Katanagatari.  There’s a lot to like about Katanagatari, interesting art style, great dialogue, memorable characters, well animated fights and one hell of an ending.  And if I’m being honest one of the reasons it’s my favorite is because I secretly enjoy being an elitist snob and I know it’s a show that isn’t for everyone, so being able to like it makes me feel special and important.  But for real though, it’s a show that basically does everything right and is super unique for many reasons, entertainment doesn’t get much better than that.

  1. If you went to sleep, and when you woke up, found yourself in an anime, which anime would you be in? Which anime would you NOT want to be in?

Answer: I would probably end up in Fairy Tail because I love magic a bit too much.  Well the second part of the question is a tough one but I would not want to be in Mirai Nikki, because sharing the same universe with Gasai Yuno is too much exposure to yandere for me.

  1. What is your absolute dream job?

Answer: If I ever had the talent and connections I would love to try making an anime, though I’d just do the writing and maybe the directing because doing everything myself would be a bitch.

  1. You and your arch rival are to duel to the death tomorrow. What weapon will you use in your fight? Can be from any media.

Answer:  Well if nakama power-ups count as a weapon I’d take that because they’re OP as shit.  Otherwise I’d settle for Sheogorath’s staff Wabbajack because it has a chance of turning my enemy into a rat, and those aren’t too hard to fight in my experience.  Or it could turn them into a menacing monster and that way I go out like a badass, I count that as a win-win situation.

  1. Which real life person would you want to see in an anime?

Answer: Julius Caesar, (and please dear God not the one from Nobunaga the Fool) because I’d love to see a good history anime set in antiquity.

  1. If your life was an anime, what genre would you want it to be?

Answer: Fantasy, all day every day.

Nominations:

 

Fujinsei

Akko Anime

DataportDoll

 

My Queries:

  • What is your favorite 1v1 battle (anime only)?
  • What is one of your favorite anime series and why?
  • If you had to be the protagonist in a harem or reverse harem show, which show would you pick and why?
  • If you could direct an anime what would yours be about?
  • If you could be any anime character who would you be and why?
  • If you could summon a Servant for the Holy Grail War who would yours be and why?
  • If you could perform a single godlike feat before using up all of your power what would you do with it? P.S.: You can’t use it to get more power because that would be lame.

A Letter of Challenge: Accepted

3 Day Quote Challenge

Day 1 of 3

First off I’d like to extend my gratitude to Akko Anime, who sent the challenge.  I was hitting some serious writer’s block and this gives me something fun to do, truly I can’t thank you enough.  I love quoting things so this should be a lot of fun.

Rules and Regulations:

  • Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
  • Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you

And the first quote is:  ” I am mad scientist.  It’s so cool.  Sonuvabitch.”- Okabe Rintaro/Hououin Kyouma from Steins;Gate

Ok as much as I like profound quotes there is nothing quite so special as hearing “Engrish” and actually enjoying it a lot.  I’m really big on the sound of language, for example I generally only watch shows subbed because I like the way Japanese sounds not because I’m a purist.  So for me Engrish usually falls somewhere around cringe-worthy and so-bad-its-kinda-funny.  And the above quote is some of the best Engrish I’ve ever come across and the delivery was perfect, here’s a clip of the scene, and the result was a great laugh out loud moment for me and my friends who saw it with me.  Silly as it may seem it was sort of a special moment and I love Steins;Gate so I need no excuses to use it.

MY NOMINEES:

Fujinsei

The Anime Analyst

DataportDoll