Lost Universe

Unfortunately, there’s not much to write about this anime. The only reason I watched it was the author’s name — the original light novel is written by Kanzaka Hajime, who’s also responsible for amazing Slayers. Yeah, that show with Lina Inverse, Gourry Gabriev, giant eyes and pacifist punches — I’m quite a fan. I wish I could say that Lost Universe is similar to Slayers but despite being created by the same person and set in the same expanded universe — these shows are pretty different.

Yeah, the two series have some similarities. The art style is close and the main hero, like Gourry, is a proud owner of the (local) sword of light. Some seiyu who worked on Slayers, most notably Megumi Hayashibara, also have parts in Lost Universe. But even if all voice actors were the same and Lina Inverse showed up as a guest star, even if there weren’t any technical problems (the quality of animation in some episodes is, let’s say, sketchy) — that wouldn’t have fixed the biggest problem this anime has. Lost Universe is boring af.

Even the most stereotypical story in the universe (a reference intended) can work if characters are interesting enough. Here… I couldn’t care less about Kain Blueriver, Millie or Canal. They didn’t give me a single reason to feel attached to them, neither during the first, introductory, half, when I still had some hope, nor during the mind-numbing main quest of beating the Very Bad Guy and his subordinates. It always was fun to follow Lina in her countless adventures. I barely had fun watching Lost Universe and after having finished an episode the thought “let’s watch one more” never crossed my mind.

A mediocre anime through and through, that might be interesting from the historical perspective by its usage of 3D and also can serve a useful reminder for myself to keep the expectations low. Kratos was right again =)

Falcom openings appreciation post.

Playing Trails of Cold Steel III now (my first game in the series heh) and its opening is so great.

Also I need to mention that one of the previous games by the same studio, Tokyo Xanadu, also has a very decent opening:

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle

Again, speaking of pleasant surprises. Reading the description of this anime I expected that we would drop it after the first episode. Instead, we punctually watched 魔王城でおやすみ each Monday and I laughed my ass off every time, because the beaten story of a princess kidnapped by a demon and waiting to be rescued by a hero took an unusual turn.

The problem number one is that the princess doesn’t seem to be bothered much by the fact that she’s been abducted. You see, she likes sleeping more than anything else in the world and as long as she can sleep comfortably and peacefully at night and have a pleasant nap during the day everything else will be daijoubu. The hero? Huh, you mean that annoying guy? No I’d be better off in the demon castle, surrounded by Teddy Demons, thank you very much.

The problem number two is that our cute heroine is slightly (or maybe even not slightly) sociopathic and nothing is too much for her on the noble quest to improve her quality of sleep. She’s ready to cut a living cloth apart, more than willing to pull needles from a porcupine-like demon, hell-bent on disrupting any castle higher-ups meeting whenever she feels an urge to describe her nightmares (and yeah she’s a prisoner there… kind of) and if she has to die obtaining a new pillow — so be it, it’s a small price to pay.

Long story short, this is a funny and cute anime. Watching how the princess nonchalantly does one ridiculous thing after another is hilarious, her attempts to show that she’s a proud member of the royal family are equally great (“pan-tsu! I preserved the Royal family’s dignity!”), even though sometimes I felt bad for other inhabitants of the castle. A perfect show to relax after a long scary Monday. Suyaaaa ^_^

Majo No Tabitabi

This fall season has been a season of pleasant surprises and this anime about a traveling witch, Elaina, is one of them. In a nutshell, this show is a more lighthearted version of Kino No Tabi (I won’t dare to compare it to a heavyweight like Mushishi). The main heroine travels from one country to another, gets familiar with local traditions, meets new people and bumps into situations of various degree of seriousness. The stories are not mind-blowing and what’s going to happen in every one of them can be predicted at the first couple of minutes but they are okay I guess. The best part about these stories and the anime in general is Elaina herself =)

Every episode starts with something along the lines: “Who is this beautiful girl on a broom? Right, it’s me!” She’s pretty self-centered, a bit arrogant, she is not going to get involved into every conflict and heroically solve problems one after another. Sometimes she just observes how people are doing stupid things, shrugs and moves on. Because there’s always another country that can’t wait to be visited by charming her =)

The idea that Elaina thinks that she’s as ideal as a witch can be leads to quite a few nice scenes in “Majo No Tabitabi”. An episode with a country where no one can lie is a great example: “Okay, let me try too, I’m going to say that I’m not beautiful. I’m not… I’m not… I am very beautiful! Oh, my mouth moved on its own to tell the truth!” And the phrase さすが私, despite, I guess, having been used countless times before, will be said in Elaina’s voice in my head from now on =)

This anime will probably get the second season (or maybe MAL shamelessly lies and this one just has more than 12 episodes), because the last episode already hints what the next story is going to be about and, frankly, I don’t mind spending more Friday evenings, watching how yet another country has a privilege to be a temporary home for the famous Ashen witch, Elaina =)

Accidentally, bought and read a book of anecdotes told by hockey referees, “Tough Calls”. The book came out in middle-90s, so mostly those stories took place in 60s or 70s. I’m not especially familiar with hockey from that period, for obvious reasons, only know a couple of most famous names, so it was fascinating to read what the games were like back then. All the refs say that all the players were super tough. Even the stars like Bobby Orr, Maurice Richard, Ted Lindsay would jump in a fight without giving it a second thought. That some particularly talented individuals would fight 2 or 3 guys in a row. The games in general were more fiery — when was the last time we saw a bench-cleaning brawl in the NHL? They describe how officials should be ready to non-stop abuse from players, coaches, owners and fans. To be fair, sometimes this abuse would transform into something pretty funny, like one of the referees described how once he received a wrapped package from a team and inside that package was the season’s schedule but in Braille. A similar story was when a player saw the ref’s kids sitting close to the ice, skated to them and asked whether their father’s new glasses were okay.

“- But he doesn’t wear glasses…”

“-Well, tell him that probably that he should”

Sometimes things would get physical — yeah, like with The Rocket knocking out a linesman. Honestly, I kind of understand why officials on the ice aren’t eager to try to break up a fight immediately =)

Anyway, this turned out to be a good book and a reason for me to start watching old games with players I’ve heard of but never seen myself.

(And of course all this is a good chance to once again link a video showing “The Good Friday Massacre” =))

Our Love Has Always Been 10cm Apart

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a sucker for a good romance show. And considering my strong (but pure) feelings towards “5 cm per second” there was no chance in hell I’d miss another anime using measurements in its name. Sadly, this show doesn’t have an ounce of Shinkai film’s brilliance and charm.

“Our Love Has Always Been 10cm Apart” is astoundingly bland. Is it possible to come up with a more stereotypical couple than a shy girl, a member of an art club and a popular boy who is about to become a world-famous film director? I guess it is but it’s going to take some time. Not only the main characters are dull — they become seriously annoying when it turns out that the girl, when she was little, almost drown and was saved by the boy’s older brother and that brother later, can you imagine that, DIED. Just for clarity, you have seen this type of older brothers thousands times before as well — a super kind broadly-smiling guy, who doesn’t stop smiling even when he has one foot in the grave. After that (completely shocking and unexpected yeah-yeah) plot twist both main characters begin acting weirdly and chaotically, don’t talk to each other and if I was a 5-year-old I’d be slightly worried about their future because back then I didn’t know yet that love always wins. It prevails again, in the 6th episode.

To be fair, the last 5 minutes, when the show fast-forwarded 7 years, were kind of cute — I always liked these scenes of “what happened to the characters after they became adults”. But these few scenes can’t make up for the boring 5 3/4 episodes before, nor did they convince me to watch the movies set in the same school and showing other couples. Oh well, there’s always next season and a chance that we’ll get another KareKano and not another Kimi Ni Todoke.

Koi Kaze

While I was watching this anime the only word coming to mind was やばい. Like seriously, everything about this anime is やばい. The characters, the plot — everything.

Koi Kaze is a bad show. It’s honestly one of the worst anime I’ve seen and it sort of became a matter of principle to finish it. Off the top of my head there’s been only one series which I completed that was worse. Not only Koi Kaze’s awful for an obvious reason of glorifying the questionable relationships between siblings. I’m not sure what the authors were going for, what strings they intended to touch but if they wanted to make me feel uncomfortable and hate the characters — they should be proud of themselves. The characters and their actions are ridiculous, odd and… well, やばい. Starting with the absolutely dumbass parents of the couple, who apparently were in touch but their kids didn’t see each other for about 12 years and finishing the 兄ちゃん and 妹 themselves. The plot would be decent for a hentai show. The visual would’ve looked dated even if I watched it in 2004, when the show aired originally.

But back we go to the characters again. God damn, the main character is 27 years old, he should understand that probably it’s not a great idea to have sex with a 15 year old girl immediately as an opportunity arises. Especially if that girl is his sister. Even putting this aside and taking into account that Nanoka is very clingy — why can’t he calm down, think twice and avoid doing anything he’s going to regret later? “Love” is a very convenient but absolutely not convincing explanation for everything this dude does. All his actions are over the top, pretentious and dumb. And again, no, I’m not buying “love” as an explanation, it’s just the quality of writing.

The only bright spot in this dumpster fire of a cast is Kaname. Turned out that just being an ordinary alcohol-loving human is enough to stand out, in a good sense of this word.

There’s nothing warm, romantic, novel or interesting about Koi Kaze. It pats itself on the back for “exploring a difficult topic” (hey, if you only knew how many difficult topics are explored in hentai!) but in its core it’s a messy two-sentences-long story, annoyingly dragging for 13 episodes.

It’s pretty amazing that this year, when concerts are canceled virtually all over the world and you’d except any reasonable band to postpone a new release, two of my favorite musical collectives at the moment, Harlott and Sodom, did it! I mean released a new album =) Harlott’s “Detritus of the Final Age” came out a few weeks ago and Sodom’s newest masterpiece “Genesis XIX” became available just last Friday.

I’m really happy with the direction Onkel Tom took with Genesis XIX. It’s dumb, straightforward, from-80s-with-love thrash metal. This album reminds me of “Persecution Mania”, one of the pinnacles in the history of the genre, and just in a week I’ve already listened to it more times than to “Decision Day”, which, heh, came out 4 years ago. A few songs are real bangers , particularly, “Euthanasia”, “Glock’n’Roll”, the title track (despite being 7 minutes long) and, of course, “Sodom and Gomorrah” (sorry, “Friendly Fire”, I still have troubles with accepting blast beat in thrash) but that doesn’t mean that others are bad — they are just a bit less memorable. The drums sound a bit weaker than I’d prefer but that’s about the only complaint I have.