Happy New Year to my dears readers! You have not heard from me since Christmas, but I’m still around. My schedule for the near future promises to be freer than it has been for the past several months, so I hope to produce more content. This content will include my top five anime from 2018, a run down of what I watched for Fall 2018, and what I intend to watch this season. (So far, Boogiepop and Others, The Promised Neverland, and The Rising of the Shield Hero have caught my attention.) Two of those posts are late indeed, but better late than never!
In the current post, I want to encourage everyone to watch Angolmois: Record of the Mongol Invasion. Angolmois came out during the summer of 2018, but I did not discover it until December of last year. I love samurai anime, especially those with a strong core of bushido. Angolmois does not disappoint on this score as it drips with the virtues of the samurai. Any fan of samurai anime or medieval action would do well to pick up this anime.
It’s been a little while, my dear readers. It looks like the regular anime season is past the mid-point, so I should write something up about what I’m up to. If you recall, most of my current watch list consists of old anime on my backlog. I did make an exception for Cells At Work, which was recommended by MIB of MIB’s Instant Headache–an excellent recommendation.
Most of you are familiar with the idea and the format of Quick Takes, so I’m just going to jump right in.
Vampire Princess Miyu TV (1997-98) comes pretty close to being a masterpiece at ★★★★ 1/2. The closest anime to compare with this show has to be Hell Girl. Both share a female protagonist bound by fate whose closest companions are otherworldly beings–called Shinma in Vampire Princess Miyu. (The English translation simply used the Japanese word. “God-demon” is the most literal translation and the most confusing one. Often, one will see creatures like this just called demons despite the Japanese equivalent for what is usually meant by the word demon is akuma. Subbers should just borrow the term longaevi from the Latin, as this is the most accurate term for a host of beings in Japanese mythology.) While Ai Enma is summoned to send usually wicked people to hell, Miyu works by keeping her territory clear of stray Shinma. She’s often willing to ignore the presence of stray Shinma as long as they behave, but she’ll send them into the demon realm within a fiery inferno should they choose to prey on humans.
This judgment of mine is coming a little late, but here goes. Yours truly has been browsing through the 2018 Summer Anime Chart and reading the opinions of various bloggers. At this point, I can honestly say that Summer 2018 looks like the worst anime season I have seen in a long time. The only show that piqued my interest was Dies Irae: To the Ring Reincarnation, because I wonder whether they can salvage the anime from the train wreck of the original season (★★). The best news about this summer is that certain good anime from the previous season are carrying over into this one, like Isekai Izakaya.*
I can’t think of a better opportunity for catching up with one’s backlog. Surely, you have some anime you’ve placed on the back-burner. (From casually browsing Anime-Planet, my Want to Watch list numbers 361 titles!) Now is the time to watch these shows. Anime is more than the year 2018 after all! This year counts as the hundred and first anniversary of anime, which began with Namakura-Gatana (1917), which means there’s more anime than the average fan can watch in a lifetime.
Well, I’ve delayed writing the second part of this series of posts enough to have watched Violet Evergarden in the meantime. As you suspect, I waited until Netflix released it. I have to say that Violet Evergarden stands head and shoulders above everything which came out in the winter 2018 season. So, I modified my last post such that it covers #10-7, this post will cover #6-2, and Violet Evergarden deserves a post of its own.
6) A Place Further than the Universe ★★★ 1/2
Many people have placed this show first for the season. In my case, this genre is so far from one of my favorites ( my favorites being fantasy, action, and comedy) that A Place Further than the Universe had no chance of rising so far–especially with its standard quality animation. Kudos still goes to this show for how eager I was to watch it every week. In a more usual season, where there are more subpar anime, it would have risen higher on the list.
What a milestone! The sixth anniversary of Medieval Otaku! Most blogs only seem to last for two or three years, and so I’m happy to have dragged myself this far. It’s really no surprise that most blogs are done after two or three years: the circumstances from which one started have changed by then, and one might want to go on to something different. I have taken quite a few breaks when my own enthusiasm has flagged. Somehow, I still want to keep up with this hobby, and for that I can only thank my dedicated readers for all their support.
As we are on the brink of a new season, I just want to briefly list all of the new shows which have caught my eye. Then, I’ll give a brief program of the kinds of articles to expect in the near future.
I should get on with this review before this season gets any closer to the end. Many anime have already released their tenth episode by this point! Let me just note that you should be seeing my top five anime of 2017 and a quick takes post on the various anime I’m consuming right now in the near future. Before I wrote a definite top five list, there were a couple of shows which I wanted to try. Am I glad that I did: these two anime took the first two places with five stars!
At any rate, below are my thoughts on the now eight anime I’m watching from the current season. I decided that I had room on my schedule to add the short Takunomi, which I’ll be comparing to Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara.
1) After the Rain
Here’s a show which has seen an endless number of bloggers comment on the premise. Is it right for the 17 year old Akira Tachibana to desire a romantic relationship with the 45 year old Masami Kondo? How appropriate is such a relationship? It’s not appropriate at all: Kondo’s wife is still alive. Kondo would sin if he began another romantic relationship, and Akira likewise if she were to become his partner.
Well, that took twenty-nine days rather than ten! The last time I completed another hundred anime, it also took longer than ten days, leading me to dub the series “Dragging Myself to 400 Anime.” (To be precise, I now have 503 anime under my belt. I’ll tell you about those extra three sometime later.) On a side note, a few people have sent me questions through “Ask Medieval,” and I hope to get to those soon. The query I received about Wolf and Parchment, the sequel to Spice and Wolf, might take a little while. It’s hard to get used to Col and Myuri after spending so much time following the travels of Holo and Lawrence. But, I’ll get through volume one soon enough.
Myuri is apparently only ten years old, by the way. Too young to go adventuring!
Anyway, a lot is on my plate–including mid-season reviews! For now, please enjoy these brief reviews of the last three movies in this series. Following the reviews will be the rankings of all ten movies.
Here’s a classic everyone has heard of, but I only watched it a few days ago. It’s a very emotional film. Knowing that, I steeled myself against the tragedy I knew was coming, which was probably the wrong way to watch the film. Instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster, you might say I watched the ride sitting on a bench somewhere with a soft drink. The result was that I examined the tragic flaws of our hero rather than grieved over the tragedy of the orphans’ plight. My focus was on why they suffered instead of the how they suffered.
In the case of firebombing the Germans and the Japanese in WWII, I can never reconcile myself to the legitimacy of this form of warfare. With the nuclear bombs, one can legitimately claim destroying industrial parks and dockyards as the main objective, while terrorizing the enemy into surrender as the secondary objective. Incendiary bombs, especially of the sort used in WWII, have no effect on factories built with steel and cement. Firebombs work much better against wooden houses–especially houses of Japanese design. When it comes to firebombing, terrorizing the enemy is still the secondary objective, but destroying civilian homes and killing non-combatants becomes the primary objective.
Hello, All! It’s been too long since my last movie review, and so an update of sorts seems appropriate. I should get back to the movie reviews starting today. From up on Poppy Hill and In This Corner of the World were both very well done, and these two films might be treated in the same post. After that, I’ll get back to writing one movie review a day–if all goes well.
I had forgotten that Satoshi Kon directed Millenium Actress until his name rolled across the opening credits. Even if one had missed his name, the quirky Satoshi Kon method of transitioning from scene to scene would have tipped me off. Millennium Actress reminds me of Perfect Blue. The two movies have many points of comparison; yet, their treatment of living in a fantasy world are very different. You might call Perfect Blue‘s treatment of fantasy and delusion via negativa, while Millenium Actress stands as a via positiva. I’d love to read any blog posts comparing and contrasting the two. Send such a blog my way if you’ve written one, dear reader. I’ll reblog the first three of you!
Millennium Actress covers the life of Chiyoko Fujiwara from her teens in WWII Japan to her old age in contemporary Japan. The movie is a framed story, with Chiyoko’s life being the center and the interview of Chiyoko conducted by Genya Tachibana, a very avid fan, with his assistant in modern times framing the tale. Amusingly, Genya and his assistant–in the fashion of how Satoshi Kon mixes reality and fantasy–appear to film her life as if they were right there beside her. I won’t spoil just how much Genya participates in Chiyoko’s life, but there’s not another movie which uses quite the same idea.
The Boy and the Beast was a fun movie–even a great movie. I loved the animation, which excelled both in the action sequences and when depicting the backgrounds. Some of the scenes in Tokyo do a remarkable job of making the viewer feel like he is right there with Kyuuta. The soundtrack melded seamlessly with the action of the story.
My biggest complaint might very well be the dub. I watched it in English, and actresses were selected to voice the boy characters. The Japanese do this all of the time. However, when the Japanese actresses take on the roles of boys, I never find myself thinking: “Well, that’s an unnaturally sexy voice coming out of that kid.” It might very well have been better to have used some young male talents for these parts. The voice talents of John Swasey as Kumatetsu and Ian Sinclair as Tatara stood out as the two best performaces. I do not think that I have heard the latter gentleman before. Sinclair’s voice sounds very similar to Steve Blum’s (Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop and Makoto Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin).
About every two years I add one hundred anime to my Watched list. (Not too impressive when you consider that shorts, OVAs, and movies also count as separate titles and that I stay away from series with over twenty-six episodes.) Also, as usual every two years, I want to let my dear readers vote upon what I watch to finish out this new hundred. Since I ran into Ex-Driver and Submarine 707 Revolution the Movie at my local 2nd and Charles bookstore, you will get to vote on eight of the last ten. (I think of 2nd and Charles as an earthly paradise of sorts. Book, manga, and anime lovers who live nearby such a store know what I mean.) Below is a list of thirty-two movies from my Want to Watch list arranged by production date, please select eight choices. I intend to review each and every movie in the final lineup.
Thanks for your input on which movies will be in the new series of posts! Be sure to pass the poll onto your friends so that they can throw in their two cents also. The poll will remain active through January 23rd. If a group of movies require a tie breaking vote, I’ll hold another such poll afterwards. Thanks again!
EDIT: I notice that one title did not come out properly in the poll. Where you see “(2015),” it ought to read “<Harmony> (2015).”
Don’t ask me how I forgot to review Girls’ Last Tour yesterday, for this oversight is a mystery even to me. If anything can explain it, it’s the fact that I dropped the anime for a while until some commentators convinced me to give it another try. (Yours truly ought to more frequently apply the three episode rule.) Reading Infinite Zenith’s “Girls’ Last Tour (Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō): Full Series Review and Recommendation” reminded me of the fact that I had both watched the show and not reviewed it on my blog. Infinite Zenith features very detailed posts with plenty of screenshots, and I highly encourage all my dear readers to read the post linked to above.
What first attracted me to this anime was how unique the setting was. As a lover of snowy settings and post-Apocalyptic tales, I had to give this show a try. As the series unrolled, one could see that the mangaka essentially explored what makes life worth living. Each episode provided one possible answer, and overall the mangaka simply answers “friends.”
The time has come for my season review. The seven anime I watched rated from two to four and a half stars with only two shows receiving the same rating. This is to say that my shows run the gamut from disappointing to near masterpieces. Fall 2017 well rounded out a good year for anime: the quality of the shows were generally good even if nothing truly spectacular came about. I’ll write more about this when I write about my top five shows of last year. The shows below rank from least to greatest.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
7) Dies Irae ★★
As a cross between Fate/Stay Night and Hellsing, this show boasted a unique atmosphere–one of the most unique of the season. It also boasted some likable characters, and one really roots for the hero to overcome the immortal Nazis trying to massacre his city. The above makes me sad that I cannot in justice give it more than two stars. Though the plot eventually becomes discernible, the events in the anime tend to be scatterbrained and the tale descends into bloody and disturbing violence. The flashback to Sister Liza Brenner’s past as the mother of Lebensborn was probably the most disturbing part of the anime.
There comes a time in a blogger’s career when he must stuff a pipe, light it, and let nicotine act as his muse. At least, that’s how I feel as I sit down to write this mid-season review. Now, my list contains seven shows–the seventh being the formerly dropped Girls’ Last Tour. (That’s a much easier title to remember than Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou.) Not much happens plotwise in this show, but I think that I’ve discovered its thematic plot now that I’m four episodes in. (Yes, I’ve not quite caught up; but, I want to get my thoughts down now before I start procrastinating.) By the way, let me thank Gaheret for submitting a query through “Ask Medieval.” I hope to post my reply to him soon–as soon as I write that article for Beneath the Tangles.
At any rate, let’s begin those reviews!
1) Girls’ Last Tour
Yes, it appears that I dropped this show too soon. It does get more interesting after episode one, even if the episodes remain slow. The fact that the characters are not boys (Does this not seem the perfect setting for a boys’ adventure tale?) does not bother me as much anymore. More bothersome to me now is the heroines continually wearing those helmets in freezing weather. People often marvel that knights kept their armor on in the frigid campaigns against the Baltic pagans and the arid crusades against the Saracens. A helmet magnifies the cold in the same way as medieval armor! In reality, out heroines would both have stowed their helmets away long ago. Can’t we get a slice of realism with our moé?
You’ve probably read many posts about which anime to watch in celebration of Halloween. I missed the boat on that, but Halloween is actually part of a three day observance. An alternate name for Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve, referring to it being the night before All Saints’ Day. Today, after All Saints’ Day, comes All Souls’ Day.
And so, we ought to be thinking about the afterlife over the course of these days. While Halloween’s original purpose in time immemorial may have been for people to prepare for All Saints’ Day, the ghoulish costumes along with the emphasis on horror movies in October brings to mind hell rather than heaven. On November 1st, we think of the blessed in heaven. Today, we think instead of the poor souls who yet await the final cleansing of their souls before they enter the Pearly Gates.
One conversation between a couple of Nazis in “episode zero” of Dies Irae caught my attention:
There is only one priest to whom she could be referring to; though, the gift of reading hearts has not been confined to one priest of the twentieth century–or to Catholic priests for that matter. This particular priest almost certainly Padre Pio.
I have dubbed Padre Pio–more formally, St. Pio of Pietrelcina–“the last medieval saint.” Though he lived from 1887 to 1968, accounts of the miraculous phenomena surrounding Padre Pio seem to belong to the saints of the thirteenth century, like St. Francis of Assisi whom Padre Pio referred to as “Our Seraphic Father.” For, Padre Pio was not only a priest, but a Capuchin monk whose order followed the Rule of St. Francis. Among the accounts of the miraculous surrounding Padre Pio, he saw visions of Jesus, Mary, and other saints, read hearts, received the stigmata, prayed successfully for the healing of people’s bodies and souls, bilocated, spoke in foreign tongues which he never studied, and had the gift of prophecy.
There comes a time when a blogger must take a break–when blogging becomes a chore instead of a joy. I’ve reached that point, and have even felt the stirrings of animus towards anime. Last season, I only finished three shows. This season in particular strikes me as odiously mediocre, though I’ll heartily endorse Aho Girl. The series occasionally pushes the envelop too far in regard to the humor driven off sex, but it’s genuinely funny.