Thanks

zip scan 12-profile pic cutI don’t know for sure what I’m going to try to do…
I’m afraid this will just turn into a list of apologies or assurances…
when what I’m really trying to say is that this project, NewAnimeThursday, is reaching a close.

Since falling off my routine of regularly writing reviews for anime due to a concussion, I’ve started pondering my reason for continuing. And even though I’d like to say that I’m just too busy to keep writing or that I want to start a new project, it boils down to a lack of energy and drive to continue NewAnimeThursday.

I’m by no means ending my obsession with anime, manga, etc. I still plan on moving to Japan (though now I’m looking more into being an ESL teacher), and I still love being enraptured in current anime, as well as marathoning completed series that people recommend to me. I just have no reason or enthusiasm to write and continue running a full blog. And it’s not like I’m dropping off the face of the anime side of the internet. I’ll still quip on Twitter, and I’m regular on Facebook on the pages You’ve got to be Squidding Me and The League of Emotional Otaku. I’ll also keep reading the blogs on my Google Reader (and probably comment more). And I’m still on Skype (belden.otaku) too if you want to chat.

tooru-pp-cut-21octWhether or not I return to blogging, either on a new NewAnimeThursday or some other blog is uncertain and probably unlikely in the very near future, but who knows. As one project ends, another begins. I’ve gained a lot through NewAnimeThursday, friends I love communicating and discussing with, and I’ve expanded my curiosity and interests far beyond what I had just 2 years ago. Through NAT I’ve “found my voice” in writing, and by that I mean I’ve come to learn that my “voice” is a changing, adaptive quality that’s served me very well, both in blogging and in the real world, where I’m now more well-spoken in classes and able to cut through and understand complex topics with an objective viewpoint.

Though I’d hate to add to feal’s dead blog count, if I were to continue simply to avoid that, I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons. If I were to continue, I’d want to enjoy it like I should and not feel obligated to do so. Not that I do now, I just don’t have the desire to anymore. It’s not necessarily a growing tired of, but more of a growing out of NewAnimeThursday. I’m going to leave the site active (until WordPress decides I’m too inactive or however they kick off pages), and I’ll get an email if anyone comments on an old post, so I’ll be sure to respond.

I’m not sure how to end this, other than to thank anyone who read, followed, and commented. I hope you continue to remain awesome.

- BeldenOtaku

Thanks for reading

Thanks for reading

Gosick

(Now that the semester is winding down, I’m going to try to get back into regularly writing. I’ve marathoned a few series so that seems like a good place to start.)

27906Nestled in the European Alps, “Gosick” follows the tale of superstitions, folk tales, and legends surrounding the country of Sabure, and it’s foreign exchange student, Kazuya Kujou. Alienated for his strange appearance, dark eyes and hair, he happens across “the golden fairy of the library”, Victorique. Victorique de Blois, the daughter of a powerful Sabure nobleman, and the half-sister of one of Sabure’s most noteworthy (and fake) detectives, spends her days in solitude, reading and handily solving the mysteries her older brother can’t wrap his head around. Little does she know the weight of history that has been placed on her shoulders through the deviousness of her unloving father.

With Kujou in tow, Victorique makes easy work of many of Sabure’s legendary myths, including a fantastic tale of a runaway African turned queen’s alchemist. While also retracing her dark past, she comes to the forefront of a new war that’s set to overshadow the Great War, the ashes of which Europe is just beginning to rise from. With help of friends, faculty, and Victorique’s ever watchful mother, Kujou rescues Victorique from her dismal fate, only to be torn away by new tides of war.

preview03124b38ad1acb9e5e1a73cf9bb90256A continually progressive plot set in a very superstitious country, Gosick manages to blend clean logic with impressive character sets to cut through mystery and lay truth bare. No back-handed scheme is too much for these two who defy prophets’ visions and historical epics in search for one another. I may sound like I’m gushing or being emphatic, but Gosick really does weave an intriguing story that was a joy to experience. No spoilers, but the final episode left me speechless and very satisfied with this series.

Coupled with visual detail I wish was the standard, Gosick is a series I wish I’d watched earlier.
Final rating: 9.3
If anything, and this may sound greedy, Gosick needs more stories, maybe not with Victorique or Kujou, but the rest of the cast surely has more to tell.
(In retrospect, this is just the sin of a greedy fan. Even though the series has a solid ending, I enjoy the ride so much that I dare suggest augmenting it for more content. How selfish…)

Unexcused Absences

I know it’s probably taboo to make posts explaining why you don’t post, but it’s been almost a month since my last review and I felt an explanation is in order. It’s nothing to do with not wanting to review anything this season or even wanting to change my style of blogging. I’m just too mentally exhausted from a heavy load of school work to muster up the endurance for a solid anime review post. I’m regularly working 9-6 everyday trying to catch up and maintain status in drawing, design, Japanese, and International Studies classes.

If you don’t already stalk me on twitter,  you may not be aware that I suffered a concussion about a month or so ago, and had to spend a week in bed. Which means I missed a lot of lab classes. I’m currently two projects behind in Drawing II, and barely managing to maintain my progress in Design II. Fortunately, my Japanese and Int’l Studies are in acceptable orders, but the two lab classes aren’t easy to recover in. And add on top of that advisement for next semester, which is looking to be heavy on mathematics, and less on autistic (fun) stuff.

As much as I want to write (I’m having this nice little love affair with Chuu-whatever…yeah, I can’t spell it), I know that it’s just going to be the tired, brain-dead ramblings of a burnt college student running on caffeine. So, until my school work is back in order, I don’t think you can expect much writing, though I’ll be doing final reviews for whatever I watch without a doubt. So, apologies from this tired otaku as I try to get everything back in order…

Gundam AGE: Final Review

There’s always that one series I don’t want to write about, I finally finish it and I just want to put it away, but noooooo, I have to write about why I’m glad to see it done. Gundam AGE owes me about a year of my life, 3 arcs and a bulls#@t ending later and I want to repair my phone microwave to send myself a message to never start this series. Despite the few interesting characters and a galactic bromance (that was heartlessly killed off in the final battle), Gundam AGE really was only a giant waste of time.

The plot: what plot? You mean Flit’s lifelong desire to throw giant robots and his son/grandson at an ultimately unfulfilled attempt to commit genocide on a planetary scale? All because they killed the girl he would’ve married instead of the girl who followed him out into space and eventually bore his son (and my favorite space pirate). And then she tells him (nearly 100 years after the fact) that he should forgive the Vagan…that would’ve been helpful when he was coordinating a planet-wide war on these people.

The animation: never improved. Never reach a minimum level of quality for a series about fighting robots in space. And what was the deal with the junkyard-styled , awkwardly structured EXA-DB suits rendered in 3D animation towards the end? Nothing seemed to meet the standards of previous Gundam series, either in design or even concept.

The premise: That sins of our past come back to haunt us and that if you try to select the “best” humans to start a utopia, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s not a particularly bad premise, if it weren’t so poorly executed. You don’t need 3 arcs to tell the story of one man’s blind racism towards a certain group of people that he one day saves and then becomes a hero.

You’re about 40 episodes too late, Kio…

I keep trying to come up with good points to be fair, but other than Asemu the space parent who left his family to fight the man, Fram Nara, and the universe’s greatest bromance cut short, there isn’t much to say. I think it’s impressive that Kio managed to actually get away with not killing Vagan soldiers, barring that one dickish commander, but it really didn’t matter or leave an impression because I still find X-Rounders to be horribly laughable and a stupid name. I hope to never have to go back to Gundam AGE for anything, much less re-watch it.

Final rating: 50 (Fram, Zeheart, and Asemu kept it from going too low)

Gundam AGE – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Accel World: Final Review

If this were just a episodic post, the title would be “The demise of that insufferable prick, Noumi”. So glad to see he’s finally been dealt with, and even more excited to see it wasn’t solely the work of Black Lotus. Chiyu reveals her ability’s secret and turns the tables on Noumi, returning Silver Crow’s wings and crippling the bullied bully until he’s a helpless mess pleading for his life as a burst linker. And so, peace is restored amongst the members of Nega Nebulous, for now…

With Noumi’s Brain Burst uninstalled, his memories of acceleration were removed as well. Even though this is the first time this was mentioned, it makes sense as to why the program has remained secret all this time. Without the memory wipe, disowned ex-accelerators would be free to wreak vengeance on his victors in the real world. Though Noumi still creeps me out, I guess at least now he’s not a real threat to anyone. But there’s still that research group using illegal brain implants to cheat the normal operations of the Accelerated World. If Accel World were to continue, I don’t imagine Nega Nebulous would be able to rest for very long until these “researcher” rear their ugly heads again.

With Haru’s fiercest opponent finally behind him, he also manages to fluster Kuroyukihime as well. And for the first time in the whole series, he returns affections towards her and asks her to stay with him forever. That’s romantic and what-not, but I find it difficult to get past the fact that he played the ignoramus for the first 20 episodes…whatever, it’s progress, I guess.

Accel World certainly isn’t the best mecha, sci-fi, action, shounen, or romance (certainly not romance) anime out there, but it does have a few pros to be proud of. The premise is very interesting to me, the ability to “accelerate” is a concept that’s just plausible enough to keep the story both appealing and realistic. The power to increase your mental abilities to near light speed using a neural interface and the prevalence of “social cameras” is also subtle enough to keep the idea that the program is secret viable. It doesn’t offer any physical traits that are noticeable by a non-Burst Linker, while still providing an unheard of advantage to users. Throw in duels for Burst Points that fuel acceleration and you have an underground world of legions and lifetimes inside a world that moves as hundreds of times the speed of the real world and you have Haru’s source of personal growth.

I can understand many viewers’ apathy towards Haru. He’s doesn’t inspire much confidence from the outset, but isn’t that the point of character development? To go from a lackluster character to a matured, more appealing character? Aside from looks, Haru does become more proactive and stops letting what others think about him influence how he thinks about himself. Sure, Kuroyukihime’s affections are irrational and sometimes unjustified, but it’s not like she has very many other people who can relate to her in her quest to reach Level 10.  Haru is relatable to many low-esteem individuals who go to high school, get picked on, see their friends succeed, and find comfort in video games where it’s their minds, not their bodies, being pushed towards success. His character is also very realistic, no one changes from a 3 foot tall, 2 foot wide gamer into a superhero in a single year of high school. If you want to go the extra mile with it, Haru also represents being content with who you are, but I should digress.

For a series centered around an action game, Accel World’s animation leaves some to be desired, but overall gets the job done. I personally don’t like it when the lighting is non-existent, but it does add the darker, more consequential scene effects the series needed at certain points. The real visual talent was in the background design, but that doesn’t really sell a fight when the motions are jumpy or blurred, does it.

I’m looking forward to more Accel World, despite the faults it had. I want to see where Nega Nebulous goes from here and the “researchers” were only somewhat touched on before the final episode. We also didn’t get to see very much in the way of Legion fights other than the short fight with the Yellow King and the few times Yuniko teamed up with Haru and Kuroyukihime. And there’s also the myriad of side characters with more in store (or so I suspect). But I’m also willing to wait for it, Accel World is the sort of series I enjoy, but not raving to see the next episode.

Final rating: 86

Accel World – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Tari Tari: Final Review

Managed to finally cram the last few episodes of Tari Tari and now I’m kicking myself for putting it off for almost a week. Truly, a beautiful ending to a beautiful series. I stand by my initial statement of “It’s K-On!, but with music”, except I want to add “and backstory”. Much like the ending of K-On!, I hated to see Tari Tari end, but cheered it on through the final episodes. Leading to an ending I hate to love because it means no more Tari Tari.

While none of the characters (except maybe Wein) really stand out to me, the group as a whole leave an impression that’s hard to compete with. The Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club was just a ragtag group of individuals who were dragged into a project to spite a vice principal who turned out to not be so mean-spirited after all. As the group learned the meaning of music in people’s lives, the character stories expanded beyond the main 5 to include almost everyone teacher and parent in this music-loving town. And as the story progressed, I ended up hating the spineless principal more than the ice queen of a vice principal (maybe because I was more sympathetic to her towards the end).

As serious as the characters took music, there was always time for comedic interjection. I absolutely loved the Market Rangers, Red Ranger Wein is now my favorite superhero, but the whole scene with Wein reclaiming Konatsu’s stolen possessions helps to show just how important music is the lives of the characters while developing them steadily throughout the whole story.

If I have any complaint with Tari Tari, it’s that the ending left a sign of stories to come. While I feel the series has come to a reasonable, well established ending, I get the feeling it’s left open for future seasons which I don’t think would fare very well. Part of the interest in Tari Tari is seeing the 5 high schoolers developing closer bonds together where they used to be simply classmates, leading to an experience none of them could’ve imagined possible as they overcame obstacles and kept true to the music they love.

Tari Tari had a strong set of character backstories and development with a plot that moved with the characters instead of a set, determined goal. Though slow at times, the events around the high schoolers were strongly written. The animation was nothing short of brilliant never seemed to slip.

Final rating: 91

Tari Tari – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Hyouka: Final Review

Well, here we are. 6 months and 22 episodes later, Hyouka has finished its story. What originally began as a quirky attraction to everyday mysteries with uncommon explanations has turned into a full-fledged dual-personality trait shared between Houtatrou and Eru. It seems a day can’t go by without them delving into the unseen and uncontemplated to over explain the mundane events that lead to the otherwise unnoticed minutia surrounding us all the time. And Satoshi was there too, along with Mayaka.

Together, the four consist of the once-fledgling Classics Club, though they’re soon better known for Houtarou’s uncanny ability to logically work around any conundrum or puzzle. But the solutions become more complicated as it’s not just the clues Houtarou has to deal with. Also taking in the feelings and impressions of his friends, especially Eru, he has to continually break his edict of “energy conservation” to meet the compelling demands of Eru’s curiosity, while preserving her air of innocence and purity in what’s he’s found to be a newly interesting world.

Hyouka’s entire premise seems to throw many off, as a “mystery” series devoid of any actual consequence of action. All the “disappearances” are of easily replaceable items, such as tarot cards, kitchen utensils, or a copy, amongst hundreds, of the yearly anthology. Even the ghastly turn into stories of minor cover-ups under the cloak of night. Though Eru’s own past wove a story of grim victimization tied into the history of the Classics Club itself, the message behind each of Houtarou’s cases proved to be that there’s always more than meets the eye and connections always exist whether or not they’re seen.

You can spin “mystery” around Hyouka until Houtarou is blue in the face, but the real motive behind the story is the character development between Houtarou and Chitanda, and Satoshi and Mayaka. Though the latter seems to at least set itself up in the final episodes (I feel like Mayaka would understand if Satoshi would be honest with her about how scared he feels), Eru and Houtarou’s relationship seems to only begin to blossom in the final moments. My heart skipped a beat when he made the offer to Eru, and then it stopped altogether when it was merely his imagination. As much as I’d love to see the two continue to grow closer, I feel like Hyouka was wrapped up nicely. Enough to give me a taste of the what the characters will become, but not enough to feel like the story is entirely finished.

Final grade: 91
A solid A minus for KyoAni’s latest work. Though I agree sometimes the lack of actual consequence made the mysteries…inconsequential, Hyouka gave me an appreciation for the long, twisting stories surrounding the ordinary things filling our day-to-day lives. Animation was brilliant, as to be expected, but Eru’s eyes took character design to new level, in my opinion. Has good re-watch potential, but I’m definitely going to miss catching it week-to-week. Highly recommended for SoL fans looking to branch out into something a bit deeper, or mystery fans who want to become astounded at the mundane.

Hyouka – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket