Tuesday Check-In: August 22, 2017

I read volume 1 of Kore Yamazaki’s The Ancient Magus’ Bride tonight, partly because Yamazaki is a guest of honor at this weekend’s Crunchyroll Expo in Santa Clara, California. I had heard praise for that manga over the past couple years but didn’t know much about it. This first volume engaged me with its characters (mage Elias, his apprentice Chise, and Elias’ various acquaintances), fantastical creatures, and recurring talk about magic gradually fading out of practice.

Kore Yamazaki is scheduled to talk on Saturday afternoon about her career & other projects and she will also participate in a Sunday preview event for the upcoming Ancient Magus’ Bride anime series. (The three-day schedule is available on the official website and through the Guidebook app.)

I’ve been thinking about how Crunchyroll Expo appears to be organized more like a media expo than like a fan-run convention. Many of its guests have prior connections to Crunchyroll or its parent companies (Otter Media and Ellation): Rooster Teeth and Cartoon Hangover appear on the VRV video service (operated by Ellation); some of the YouTube “influencers” have Crunchyroll free trial affiliate links or sponsored videos; and upcoming anime series Kino’s Journey, Juni Taisen, URAHARA, and The Ancient Magus’ Bride have already been announced as simulcasts on Crunchyroll. Please note that I’m not implying any of the guests are not worthy of being invited; I’m just being conscious of its promotional aspects and how different my experience might be compared to Fanime or Otakon.

Anyway, I plan to be in Santa Clara all weekend so if you’re also going to be there, please say “Hi!”

Tuesday Check-In: August 15, 2017

One of the few non-violent scenes in the 2000 Battle Royale film

I re-watched the first Battle Royale film, accompanied by a Giant Bomb subscriber-only audio supplement. (That website’s staff has enjoyed playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds a lot in recent months and that game has some noticeable Battle Royale influences.) I think I appreciated the movie more now compared to when I first saw it in college.

There is a flashback scene involving two students and one of them is reading manga while lying on a bunk bed. He’s holding a volume of Slam Dunk and there are a couple stacks of manga behind him. I was watching on a stream through Shudder so it was hard to make out some of the titles in those stacks, but I think the tall stack in the far back with red titles on a white background as a Young King Comics series, thanks to the gold “YK” at the top of the spines. Continue reading

Monday Check-In: August 7, 2017

Hiroko Katsuki, her son Yuri, and Minako in Yuri!! on ICE

I began watching Yuri!!! on ICE over the weekend because I figured I should see one of last year’s most acclaimed anime series – it topped many year-end lists and won Crunchyroll Anime Awards in all seven of its nominated categories: Anime of the Year, Best Boy, Best Animation, Most Heartwarming Scene, Best Couple, Best Opening (OP), and Best Ending (ED).

It had a fantastic first episode with main character Yuri Katsuki heading home to Hasetsu in Kyushu and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his figure skating career after some recent failures. I recognized some things during the skating sequences from watching Winter Olympic and other competitions over the years. My goal is to finish watching YOI in the next week or two. Continue reading

Monday Check-In: July 31, 2017

Motoko and Batou at a bar in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

I have been watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex with a few friends (a re-watch, in my case) and the themes of some episodes feel a little close to reality than when I first watched S.A.C. a decade ago, e.g. an owner of a outdated android wanting to eliminate all other androids of the same model so his would become unique; unauthorized organ donations; hacking of cyber-implants. Motoko’s standard on-duty outfit has stood out to me as out-of-place compared to what her fellow Section 9 agents wear and the series’ English insert songs felt jarring while I was watching with Japanese dialogue, but I am enjoying the action and technological aspects of the series. Continue reading

Monday Check-In: July 24, 2017

A sky battle in New York City from The Reflection

If you paused the first episode of The Reflection and told me look at any still frame, I might confuse it for a panel from a major American comic book. This new anime series from co-creators Hiroshi Nagahama and Stan Lee started off slow and the animation was a little stiff in spots, but I will stick with it to see how its premise of “normal people developing powers from a mysterious global event” unfolds. Continue reading

Monday Check-In: July 17, 2017 – Teekyu is back!

Tomarin is angry after losing money at a pachinko parlor in Teekyu season 9

I watched a few more new anime series last week but not as many as I wanted. Teekyu returned for its ninth season with a Tomarin-focused episode and an ending credits sequence depicting the girls as more realistic-looking teenagers with a portion where the camera pans across their towel-draped bodies. I guess the ending credits are a parody of other anime ending credits that have similar shots of their female characters but Teekyu’s credits unnerved me just like those other ones do…

I saw the first episodes of Anime Strike series Made in Abyss and Princess Principal with some online friends and enjoyed both of them for different reasons. Made in Abyss had beautiful landscapes and a fun adventure story setup with its characters. I liked Princess Principal for its dark, steam-powered London setting and background music directed by Yuki Kajiura; its soundtrack reminded me of Kajiura’s previous action series scores including Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Noir. Continue reading