Monday, October 08, 2018

Anime roundup '18Q3

Another thin season.

Of the new shows, the only one that seemed interesting was Planet With, but after two episodes it was plain that it was not only LOL!aliens again (including our MC and his adopters), but also yet another of these series where my ideological sympathies seem to lie with one of the antagonist groups (the apparent humans). The un-funny running gags didn't help either.

I did skip ahead to the the End of Evangelion reference in episode 7, but that episode wasn't enough to make me want to follow along again like I had done with DarliFra, because here there was nothing to make me want to care about any of the characters.

The one summer show that I did watch to completion was Encouragement of Climb S3, where it seems that the girls definitely needed some firmer encouragement because there was very little in the way of climb this season (for all that it was only September/early October in continuity), or even getting equipped to climb, just plenty of mid-season misunderstandings -- maybe a third of the episodes were outdoor activity related, and even then, it verged on being YuruCampΔ at points (not that that is in itself a bad thing).

In the carry-overs, I finished ClassicaLoid S1 which abruptly went from larks about fried mandarins or brewing the perfect cup of coffee to "Suddenly, *ahem* Instrumentality..." and "Suddenly, LOL!aliens..." in an unforeshadowed burst of uncharacteristic escalation. Being a not-too-serious sit-com, it actually took these developments in its stride, unlike certain other, more recent, series.

Also finished was Majestic Prince, a decent enough not!Gundam, and another data-point, along with Fafner to suggest that Hiraiface has now become the badge of the superior mecha series, having burned its bad karma with Seed/Seed Destiny. Alas, at the last minute it went into a "Japan doesn't into endings"; the down-to-the-wire final battle ended in the closing seconds of the last episode but one, but the final episode was just filler/side-story/omake rather than being any sort of epilogue. Otherwise, generally good, apart from a few howlers in the closing episodes : "If you get in your [Mobile Suit] and go out there, you could die!" -- well, no shit, Sherlock, it's a battlefield out there; and "[Character], withdraw now!" -- well, the guy he's going toe-to-toe with might have an opinion about the feasibility of following that order.

Bonus point, though, for the character who could blend in quite happily with the Nines (their boring hair colour and un-Nine-like battle-rage aside).

On the rewatch front, DP Flash OVA2 is much weaker than OVA1 (though I can appreciate some of the parodies more this time around), and OVA3 weaker still (and not improved by knowing more about anime tics in general since the first time I watched it).

Somewhat better was Ghost Hound. Even knowing that it all falls apart at the end, the first episodes are still so very strikingly and eerily atmospheric. It's at around the 2/3 mark that the signs emerge of it going horribly wrong, before grinding into an anti-climactic ending which hand-waves away the core conceits of the story in favour of resolving one strand that had only emerged a few episodes earlier.

Sengoku Basara S1 OTOH is just plai... PUT YER GUNS ON LET'S PARTY!

Other new-from-the-backlog series included watching a bunch more episodes of Shiki, but I put it to one side again after the rather underwhelming episode where the doctor vivisects (necrosects?) his wife; and Captain Earth, which for the first three episodes it was shaping up as a so-so mech series, with a novel way for the main mech to combine out of parts, and a sub-MajPri style of antagonist faction from outer space.

Then, episode 4.

After it having been stated that should the bad guys reach Earth, Bad Things™ would happen, in this episode, the invaders (both of them) drive a truck carrying one of their mechs off a ferry from mainland Japan and into the good guys' Secret Main Base with its sea-front location on some small island. Bad Things™, however, do not happen. This is one of the dumbest things I've seen in anime in years. I think I lost the will to continue.

Also in this state of dropped after a trial is selector Infected WIXOSS, which looked like it was shaping up to be Mari Okada's Mean Girls' Club, when from the aesthetic it could and should have been more like [C] but without the wonky economics; and Pandora in the Crimson Shell : Ghost Urn, which you could tell was minor Shirow (and not in a good way like Healthy Drive or Ghost Hound); at least it refrained from importing all his fetishes. Both dropped after two episodes.

More successful was GitS:Arise (watching the original OVAs plus the TV finale), which as yet another GitS continuity, works fine -- it imports some of the aesthetics of the later GitS manga, especially in the cyberspace sections, both in look-and-feel, and in that Makoto has her robot helpers along with her, so doesn't fit as a prequel to anything. That said, the c1990 vision of the world of the future (and the not-the-Iraq War) is being rapidly encroached upon by the present day (even at the time of making), and not in a good way.

Also looking promising are 2013's Gifu Dodo : Kanetsugu and Keiji and the previous year's Sengoku Collection -- though watching episodes of these in quick succession can be quite amusing, going from the Fist of the North Star look to the almost 1990's anime girls and they're meant to be the same character; and a rewatch of Rocket Girls, which even with the CGI of a decade ago, is still as delightful as I remember it.

Monday, October 01, 2018

September Cycling

This month I ended at 625 on the summer bike or 192.4 miles (1601 YTD), with just the one long bike-ride to add the arc around Biggleswade to the limits map.

The weather stayed fine and warm, almost to the end of the month, one wet and windy week aside, so I took advantage of the last warm day for the long ride, taking two other quiet crossings of the A1 to make the revisit I'd promised myself last month

The Anchor at Great Barford

with the weather still being warm enough to want to sit outside and enjoy the view

The view from my table

Having thought of the A1 as a barrier, it turned out to be remarkably porous once I planned ahead rather than doing a tour on a whim. Other busy A-roads get in the way far more.