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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? June 2018

July 9, 2018

 Ah geez, it’s been a little while, huh?
Summer is at its peak, which means longer (yet somehow shorter) days, a cascade of insect noises over the idle sounds of fans and air conditioner units, and a cycling of currently airing anime series. Good times indeed.
It’s easy to poke fun when we see tropes reoccur in the characters we encounter or narratives we consume in created media, but it’s important to remember that the consumption of said media is cyclical.
What’s new to you is not to someone else, and the same can be said in reverse.
This is what makes the topic of spoilers so irritating to talk about if you ask me, as yes, that movie from the 80’s or that big narrative twist from your ten year old video game might feel like old news that surely everyone knows about by now who is going to know about it, but, and especially in today’s age where older, less entertainment savvy generations are aging and bringing new eyes and ears into the world, someone is always new to everything, and the first exposure a person has to a specific trope might endear them to that instance in which they encountered it, even if it was inspired by something older and widely thought of as better by us grumpy has-beens.
Let’s see if we can remember how to do this:

 

Redline-
To those across the galaxy whose idea of a good time is to risk life and limb racing souped-up ground vehicles, the intergalactic racing circuit is the place to be, and every half-decade, the crown jewel of these breakneck displays of driving skill is the Redline circuit.
J.P. is one of the few humans to grace the racing scene. With a thirst for victory and a peerless lust for speed, his story has led him to skipping distance of qualifying for the Redline event. All he needs is to win, but first he needs to survive.

What I thought-
Once the introductory sequence which sees JP qualify for the titular Redline event had finished, leaving our hero in the hospital, I was preparing myself for an uninteresting slog leading up to the main event, with JP recovering over time, and he and his friend and mechanic Frisbee negotiating around in circles with their mafia connections, but thankfully enough, I was caught off guard; this is not a film to be bogged down.
I won’t say that I wouldn’t be interested in learning more about the various colorful characters comprising this story. Characters like MachineHead especially were a gas to watch, because of their creative designs and over the top personalities, but a glimpse into their lives is all we’re given, and in service of retaining a breakneck pace, this is more than enough.
JP and his love interest Sonoshee are of course given more time, with a few flashback sequences here or there; scenes which do an excellent job at putting in place their motivations without slamming you over the head with them, and puts you in their corner once the Redline event commences.
The racing is why you’re here, and the races are both hectic and exhilarating. Some scenes can be a little tough to follow due to the quick cuts and sheer mass of chaos taking place, but as a whole, these races are everything you could want from a futuristic motorsport, and the production by MadHouse is spot on as well. The roaring of the engines, the extreme camera angles and absurd manner in which these vehicles seem to stretch as they roar through the frame; it’s loud, over the top and just pins your attention to the screen.
With its superb animation, pumping soundtrack, over the top characters and unstoppable pace, Redline is the closest thing we may see to an F-Zero movie. Even if you’ve never heard of that particular video game series though, this is a futuristic racer well worth its feature length run time.

 

Comic Girls-
The Bunhousha dormitory has housed generations of up-and-coming manga artists. Housed in its walls are memories of growth and joy, as well as the anguish of pouring heart and soul into creating manga for fans to enjoy.
Moeta Kaoruko, or Kaos-chan to her friends, is one such up-and-comer.
While her heart is in the right place, and she desires nothing more than to finish a manuscript which her editor will approve, she has seen no success just yet.
Among her fellow dorm residents and schoolmates is the shoujo manga artist Koyume, the reluctant ecchi artist Ruki, and the action series artist Tsubasa.

What I thought-
Moe series such as these truly do come and go at pace, don’t they? I tend to think of them as small snacks to tide you over between proper meals. Huh, creepy metaphor.
If you’ve been around anime for awhile, then you very likely know what this series is like, with its emphasis on cuteness and suggesting interesting situations within which its colorful collection of characters can do adorable things. It’s nothing new, but that isn’t to say it’s bad.
I wouldn’t compare Kaos and her bunch to heavyweights like Houkago Tea Time or the girls of Rabbit House cafe, but their interactions are endearing enough, and their designs are bright enough that the cheer is enthusiastically brought, even without any particular staying power.
The manga artist dent is stood on throughout, and as a production itself, Comic Girls looks and sounds quite pleasant. The voice acting is nice, the OP and ED sequences and songs are catchy and enjoyable to watch, and all in all Comic Girls is simply put, an unoffensive and almost abusively likable series.
 Comic Girls is another one of those. If you’re looking for a lovably bright 萌え affair to tide you over then you’ve come to the right place. Whether or not you’ll remember its name a year from now, that I cannot say.

 

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online-
Kohiruimaki Karen is a bit uncomfortable with her everyday life.
Being uncommonly tall in stature, she feels out of place in social situations, and wishes she could be short and cute.
Her good friend Miyu suggests she tries video games to unwind, and Karen takes her advice, purchasing a VR unit and a bevy of games to try out.
After the progressive disappointment of having her in-game avatar constantly reflecting her large stature, she all but gives up hope before she logs into Gun Gale Online, and is pleased to find a chibi cutie looking back at her through her reflection.
The world of Gun Gale Online is a cut throat one though, and Karen, known by the handle LLENN quickly builds a reputation thanks to her unorthodox character build and tactics.

What I thought-
Ya know, going into this series, I daydreamed of some sterile board room where production higher ups were having a near-argument about how Sword Art Online as a franchise could be bigger if the narrative weren’t so decisive, and how if there wasn’t so much ham-fisted future think piece nonsense crammed in between two thick slices of harem fan-service, the series could thrive even more than it has.
I’m sure if such a conversation took place, the parties involved used tame language.
Regardless of how this series came about though, Kawahara Reki is out as writer and it shows.
This is a straight forward, armed conflict action series with a near-future technological hook, and while that does mean that the narrative told here is less substantial than that of SAO proper, it also means that the series is paced terrifically, being more focused on the action, and once said action hits, it’s quite well done.
Some of the contrivances or general misses from its parent series have bled over, with Gun Gale itself not making a ton of sense from a video game balance point of view, but those are easily ignored. I imagine no one wants to watch a series depicting actual video game players’ behavior toward one another.
The setting also allows for this series to be violent without going over the edge with it, as players are being mangled by bullets left and right in sometimes shocking ways, but the absence of blood or human suffering removes many of the disturbing feelings you’d have otherwise. Read into that as you will, I guess.
LLENN and her decently sized crew of affiliates are great, and her story in particular, while sometimes predictable, is a blast to watch unfold.
 Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is proof that there are great stories and likable characters yet to be discovered in the SAO universe, and they don’t always have to be jonesing for Kirito’s affection. If the harem that is Sword Art Online turned you the other way, maybe give this alternative a shot.

 

Hinamatsuri-
The Yakuza life is a stressful one.
To Nitta Yoshifumi, it’s about to get worse.
Being belted by a large sort of casket, Nitta finds himself harboring the aloof and powerful telepath Hina.
This girl holds tremendous power, and if left unchecked, has the capability to level the place.
Who is this girl, where is she from, and why is she here? To Nitta, these questions come secondary to the headache of having her around his high-roller Yakuza lifestyle.

What I thought-
There is something that I truly adore about something like Hinamatsuri – which is a series or story which hands you an otherworldly premise, lets you gander at it for a hot second and contemplate its potential before it rips it out of your hands, throws something else entirely in your face, and then watches through a smirk at how much enjoyment you find in this new thing instead. Last year’s flawed yet terrific Alice to Zouroku comes to mind.
Telepathy and strange alternate worlds have a place in Hinamatsuri, but that is not what this series is about.
This is a series about character, and it just nails it.
Through a comedic lense, concepts of alienation and personal growth are the focus, and through Hina and especially her rival Anzu, this series straddles the line perfectly between giving you great laughs one moment, followed by opportunity for introspection in the next.
In many series, it seems the supporting characters are actually the stars, and this often seems the case here, as Hina herself often takes a seat to let her friends take center stage.
There is a science fiction through line nestled at the heart of Hinamatsuri, but do not be disheartened to learn that this is merely a ruse to draw you into one of the most unexpectedly endearing and hilarious slice of life series out there.

 

Fumikiri Jikan-
People wait at train crossings every day, but what does one think about when standing there waiting for their time to cross?
Fumikiri Jikan is a series of anime shorts which focuses in on random individuals as they stand waiting in such a way.
School students who decide to confess their crushes over the clattering of the train passing by.
A middle-aged man who finds himself looking into his past.
These stories and more make up this series which attempts to place a spotlight on the mundane and show something joyful.

What I thought-
Life is one small moment resting next to another, and the interaction leading one moment to the next is what I think makes us the people we are. Fumikiri Jikan is a series focusing on small moments which just happen to take place at a railroad crossing.
These are simple stories which could have very well been told through an audio medium, but being presented here as anime shorts works just the same. Ranging from cute to nostalgic to funny, I was a bit surprised at how bright and earnest this series was, foregoing its simple premise in many ways to adhere to tropes we might see in anime elsewhere, but I don’t think that was to this series’ detriment necessarily, it’s more something to be aware of.
Fumikiri Jikan asks but a few minutes of your time, with the hope of reminding you of those feelings of fleeting love or embarrassment or nostalgia which come with life; just enough to allow a train to pass and have you go along your way.

 

It really does feel like forever since I’ve typed a closing paragraph for one of these things..
I’m looking at some free time in the near future and fantasizing about all of the fun things that could be done with it (related to the Soapbox), but nothing is written in stone just yet.
Believe it or not, October is right around the corner, which means horror games. Considering the absence of time and motivation necessary to simply get one of these anime monthlies out has been tough to wrangle, the idea of trying to do a weekly series like White Day (don’t worry, we’ll get through it) is exhausting to so much as think about. The want is there, but life gets in the way.
I haven’t made the plunge into any Summer anime series just yet, though I certainly have my eye on a few in particular. Hey, did you know Yama no Susume was getting a third season? I didn’t! It’ll also be interesting to see whether this season’s Yamishibai is good Yamishibai or bad Yamishibai.
The road ahead awaits! I hope you are all having a wonderful Summer.
(Last year this month.)
じゃね

From → Anime

2 Comments
  1. Thank you for the information. You have done in depth research on the topic and written the blog so well that I couldn’t stop myself from following you! Looking forward to more interesting stuff!

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2018 | Spitz's Soapbox

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