2018 was a long year for me. I moved to another city and started law school. The Winter Olympics happened in South Korea and the FIFA (men’s) World Cup happened in Russia, but unfortunately, I don’t recall much of what transpired in either of those sports competitions other than the U.S. women’s hockey team winning an Olympic gold medal over Canada and France winning the World Cup.
New anime series I watched most during the year included Pop Team Epic, gdgd Men’s Party, Takunomi., Laid-Back Camp, Crossing Time, Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood., and Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san. You might notice the majority of those are slice-of-life comedies or series with short episodes.
I also watched many older anime series and movies with a group that I likely would not have watched on my own: Genesis of Aquarion, Simoun, Crest of the Stars, Mononoke, the first season of Minami-ke, the 1985 Night on the Galactic Railroad movie, the 1979 Galaxy Express 999 movie, and the Birdy the Mighty OVA series as well as re-watching Beck, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and Ouran High School Host Club. (You can read more about some of these in the “Check-In” posts I wrote earlier in the year.)
There were many buzzy new series I didn’t get to last year that I’d like to sample this month, particularly A place further than the universe, Cells at Work!, Darling in the FRANXX, FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative, Golden Kamuy, Hinamatsuri, Planet With, Wotakoi, and Zombie Land Saga. Add that to the unwatched and unfinished series carried over from 2017 & earlier and I suppose I don’t have an excuse if I claim I’ve got nothing to watch.
The San Jose Convention Center during Crunchyroll Expo 2018
Hi there. I’ve been busy with my first semester of law school and with work projects, so I haven’t had a lot of free time lately. I was able to watch some anime series and go to an anime convention, though.
In the three months since my last post, I finished watching Aquarion and Ouran High School Host Club (a re-watch for me) with an anime classics watchgroup. Aquarion was an interesting mecha action series with character-building episodes and goofy moments. Some parts of the Ouran anime series don’t hold up well 12 years later, such as when the club meets Haruhi’s cross-dressing father the first time, but I still enjoyed hearing Maaya Sakamoto play the snarky “commoner” Haruhi Fujioka and revisiting back stories about the host club members. I’m thinking about reading the manga sometime.
I also attended Crunchyroll Expo in San Jose during Labor Day weekend and had a good time re-connecting with friends and making a few new ones. I made a Twitter moment that you can scroll through with pictures from that weekend. Continue reading
I have never been able to fathom the Japanese obsession with robots and all things mecha. I am sure that if you did a run-down of anime themes, that genre would be at the top of the listings. I can’t go a week anywhere without seeing (or hearing) of another mecha show. The problem is that we have honestly seen this before. “BBK/BRNK” (also known as “Bubuki/Buranki”) is our latest venture. Let us go back ten years, but only to visit, OK. And no souvenirs, either!
Have you ever been to New York City, so great, they had to name it twice? I was there recently and it is everything they say it is and more. As “The Town That Never Sleeps”, it is a magnet for all kinds of movies and shows based there. Although never officially named in this anime, it takes place in The Big Apple, or, as they call it, Hellsalem’s Lot. You see, Hellsalem’s Lot was created when a portal to the “Beyond” opened, becoming, in the process, a paranormal melting pot of monsters, magic and the everyday mundane life. Three Card Monte was never like this!
“Blood Blockade Battlefront” (“Kekkai Sensen” or “Bloodline Battlefront”) tells the tale of Leonardo Watch (to the left, grasping a beer mug), a photographer who has come here to help his ailing sister. But for some strange reason, a mysterious entity gave him the “All-Seeing Eyes of God”, granting him a variety of ocular powers (he normally wear a special set of goggles). He ends up being recruited by the organization “Libra”, who is tasked to clear the streets of trouble and prevent the horrors of this city from spreading to the outside world. Now, it does help that NYC….I mean, HSL, is blanketed in a perpetual fog, so you can’t really see what’s going on or going down or going away, but it makes for overall dreary days. Continue reading
Rakugo is a performance art that I really don’t fully understand. The closest we would have would be a stand-up comic who tells a long and involved story, potentially exploiting the foibles and failures of people. Possibly the best example would be Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”. But rakugo is done in a very specific way, telling very specific stories with almost no variance from one telling to the next.
“Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū”(“Shōwa Era, Genroku Era, Comic Storytelling, and Double Suicide”) is a double story. The first few episodes tell the story of Yotaro. He was recently released from prison and wants to become a rakugo performer (no, you don’t see him up there). In this time and place, being a barista might be a better career choice. Anyway, he tracks down the best rakugo performer, Yakumo Yurakutei (the one on the left, when he was younger; he was also known as Kikuhiko). Well, Yurakutei does NOT take apprentices, but the man is so earnest, and annoying, he takes him on, but with a lot of provisos. Continue reading