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Waifu Wars

These ladies are a bit much
by Bob Johnson

Too Dere

Belldandy (Ah! My Goddess!) vs Yuna Onoda (Futari Ecchi)

Futari Ecchi is like the “Naruto” of sex comedies, having run continuously in Japanese lad mags since 1997 and spawned 2 OVAs. The essential humour of the series relies on Yuna and Makoto being absolutely clueless but being unflappably tolerant of whatever kind of weird sex stuff starts happening around them, occasionally getting swept up themselves.

Ah! My Goddess! is yet another one of those “You Fail Theology Forever” mangas where western concepts of Heaven and/or Norse mythology get filtered through Japanese concepts of animism, bureaucracy, and the absolute necessity that all forms of spirituality be mediated through sexy shrine maidens.

Comparing the shows as a whole is like apples and oranges. However, these two characters are birds of a feather when it comes to being sweeter than a kilo of erthyritol. I can no more imagine Belldandy leaving Keiichi than Yuna leaving Makoto, and that’s a little more damning for Yuna. Makoto can be a bit of a troublemaker in ways that would never occur to Keiichi.

What makes Yuna so terrible, especially compared to other pure-type waifus, is her total lack of ability, ambition, or personality. Sure, she has household chore powers, but even her Office Lady skills are no match for the the other women in Makoto’s life. By contrast, Belldandy has ultimate cosmic power, she could do literally anything else, and yet she chooses to continue to stay with her husbando.

On the other hand, Belldandy is not commonly seen getting busier than a kiss. The one point I can give Yuna is that she’s super DTF, a very healthy quality in a waifu. Still, it’s not hard to make a call here: Belldandy by a mile.

Too Freaky

Stocking (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt) vs Darkness (Konosuba)

Konosuba is yet another genre-savvy isekai whose focus is on RPG mechanics and its over-the-top characters. So Darkness, as the fighter, is supposed to be the hit-point sponge and soak up battle damage? Wouldn’t it be funny if she was super *into* that sort of thing? Ha ha. Watermelons ensue.

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is an irreverent ecchi action-adventure show where the drive-by sex jokes are just as important as the actual plot of the episode. Stocking is a gothed-out suicide girl nominally from heaven, but oddly well-versed in the dark arts, and an enthusiast of rope-and-whip scenarios. What could possibly go wrong?

Of the two of them, Darkness is more straightforward. There’s no hidden game scurrying somewhere behind her eyes. She honestly craves the sting of battle, to the point of letting bad guys win even when she could easily turn them into bloody paste. Often Darkness’ scenes are just plain embarrassing for everyone, and the show even indulges in how this same embarrassment feeds back into her complex.

Stocking is more mysterious: at first glance, she might seem to be the tame, sweets-loving alternative to Panty. In action, though, she proves to be diabolically devious, eager to thrust herself into mortal danger, and date shitty guys. As the series progresses, we learn that Stocking is simply more subtle about her sex life than Panty, rather than being a boring “pure” waifu. And Stocking’s dark streak takes a turn for the worse that the waifu-collector simply has to ignore.

It’s harder to make a call here as to which is truly worse, so I’ll declare them both bad waifus: Stocking’s inscrutable complex and poor taste in men making her a too-hard, trash waifu, and Darkness being a buxom beauty with a not-so-secret kink makes her a too-easy, trash waifu.

Too Tsun

Hayase Nagatoro (Don’t Bully Me, Nagatoro-san) vs Hana Uzaki (Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!)

Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is a romantic comedy with ecchi elements, based around teasy-flirts and rotating forms of retail therapy, with the twist that Sakurai is the only one who doesn’t realize he’s Uzaki’s boyfriend for most of the show.

Please Don’t Bully Me, Nagatoro-san is about the kinds of low-grade torture that are common in a prison or school environment where people can’t easily escape each other, played off like a comedic ecchi and mainly inflicted by the title character, who truly enjoys the fact that sadistic humiliation is her chief export.

Guess which of these shows has a second season?!

If you fail to see the distinction between Nagatoro-san and Uzaki-chan, you might chalk both of them up to simple pablum for the crush-my-junk-with-your-high-heels crowd. But comparatively, Uzaki has a lot going for her: 1) she’s actually been in love with Senpai for a long time, 2) she’s a 100% confirmed college-going adult, and 3) her massive chest chonkers, clearly advertised as SUGOI DEKAI, are the stuff of instant legend on par with the MEGA MILK of days gone by.

Now, Nagatoro might have the edge in cunning, but she only applies her powers for evil. Yeah, Uzaki might tease a bit, but at the end of the day she’s snuggling on her beau’s arm, whereas Nagatoro leaves a brother hanging, or worse. Playing hard-to-get can have its place – but straight-up sadism is another thing entirely. Getting off on torture is bad news! Don’t bully your senpai.

Unfortunately, I’ve spotted Nagatoro merch in the wild – and not just safely on a shelf at a con, but literally as a daily driver T-Shirt amid regular folks at the department store. I wonder, on the off chance you meet another fan, what kind of conversation is everyone else nearby going to have to suffer through? I mean, I did my 3EW of her garbage and I need therapy already.

So final call in this waifu war: Uzaki wins by default! Nagatoro’s antics are a hard DQ.

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Since When does Production I.G adapt BL Mangas?
by Bolt Vanderhuge

I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have bothered to watch Moriarty the Communist Patriot if not for my anime group voting for it. I had actually never heard of this before, so I went into it completely unbiased when I started. The fact that Production I.G had done it gave me some hope initially, because back in the ‘90s and early 2000s, they had actually made some pretty good stuff, even it was pretty obvious one or more people there had a huge anti-America boner. While the same attention to technical detail is still alive there, as someone obviously did their homework on Victorian-era Britain. But while the art skills are still there, the writing skill apparently is not.

At first I thought this series might just be some attempt to make the character of Moriarty more sympathetic (as the title calling him a patriot suggests), or at least an attempt to try some kind of a twist on the old Sherlock Holmes franchise by focusing on this character. Essentially, Moriarty shows all the same deductive skills that are stereotypically associated with Holmes, but the “twist” ends up being that the perpetrator of the crimes he solves are all rich aristocrats and the “service” he offers is to arrange for someone else to murder them.

While was not immediately apparent to my dense self, but after the opening monologue started in the second episode and the flashback featured therein, it became obvious that this series is really just socialist revenge fantasy, which frankly was quite horrifying for a freedom-lover like myself to watch.

The English dub of this scene is … less discriminate.

The strict class separation of Victorian England really lends itself well to socialist talking points, but the show really does go overboard on it. Part of me wonders if they are just using England as a proxy for Japan, given the taboo against criticizing the Imperial family, but that’s probably giving the writers too much credit given how cartoonishly evil all the aristocrats in this series are depicted. Except for Albert Moriarty, who proves his virtue by murdering his entire family after first talking them into adopting William and his brother Louis. Only after the senior Moriarty paid for Louis to get life-saving surgery, though.

The first part of the series was very formulaic, consisting entirely of some aristocrat doing something completely inhumanly evil, William showing how smart he is by figuring out who committed said wrongdoing and/or finding all the details he needs for him and his crew of fellow commies to murder said aristocrat without getting caught. These “perfect crimes” were to be part of some plan to somehow reform the British Empire, but it wasn’t really apparent how this would be accomplished since it really seemed to be all about the revenge aspect and just how smart William was. I would even have gone as far as to accuse him of being a Wesley Crusher level Gary Stu if not for the fact that he was basically just the pop culture stereotype of Sherlock Holmes but evil.

I was honestly getting bored of this series once the initial shock of Production I.G having gone full commie on me had worn off, but just as I was starting to zone out, the series changed things up by introducing the famous detective and archenemy of Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes. It was at times actually somewhat interesting to see these two play off of each other, but it was also pretty apparent that the show was basically morphing into a yaoi fan-fic. It later became the ultimate crossover fic after introducing a few other characters from the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle series by doing some … interesting things with them. For example, Irene Adler went from being able to disguise herself as a man (somehow, in spite of being built like Danni Ashe), to being trans, and being able to beat the crap out of people, to actually being the first James Bond, and first agent of MI6, which was totally invented thanks to William Moriarty’s influence. Upon the reveal of her new name, I laughed my ass off. A character named Billy the Kid also turns up. Stuff like this was the only real entertainment I got out of this series. It’s literally the ultimate yaoi socialist self-insert cross-over fan-fiction.

Literally the ultimate yaoi socialist self-insert cross-over fan-fiction.

I guess another example of the hilarity of this show is that it seemed to be structured like the 1997 Berserk series in that it started in 1911 New York City (with a period-accurate skyline) and then flashed back to William Moriarty’s beginning in London, but it’s like the writers forgot to bookend the series, and rather than ending up back in 1911 New York City, it ended in Switzerland. This Rian Johnson level of subverting expectations may be accurate to the manga (I don’t know or care), but it is still pretty funny.

So should you watch this show? Well, that depends. Are you a communist BL fan who also likes Sherlock Holmes? If so, you’d probably like this show, and hijacking planes to get to Red Zone Cuba. Do you like watching absurd things and making fun of them? You will find plenty to make fun of in this series, but it only really picks up toward the end and you really have to wait for the laughs before that. If you don’t want to wade through propaganda to get to the stupidly fun second season, or were foolishly hoping this show might do an actual adaptation of a Conan Doyle mystery, I would recommend that you skip this one and maybe watch Sherlock Hound instead.

Maybe Check It Out:

Moriarty the Patriot
Directed by Kazuya Nomura
Based on the manga written by Ryōsuke Takeuchi and illustrated by Hikaru Miyoshi
Produced by Production I.G

Streaming (press time): Crunchyroll

Apocalypse Zero Sense

The Horror… The Horror…
by Bolt Vanderhuge

This OVA is something of an oddity, and not just in a FLCL/Dead Leaves, “WTF is going on here?” sense (though there is no shortage of that). I’m honestly not sure whether Apocalypse Zero is supposed to be taken seriously or not. It’s like someone took elements of both Fist of the North Star and Neon Genesis Evangelion and mashed them together, but didn’t really care all that much about little details like plot structure.

What, you thought the fact there was an apocalypse meant you wouldn’t have to go to school?

The story follows a Gary Stu named Kakugo Hagakure, who poses as a transfer student so he can protect students and other innocent civilians living in the ruins of Tokyo. He wears the “Zero Armor” that gives this OVA and the manga it’s based on its name, which is a living exoskeleton made from the souls of deceased warriors. His main foe is actually his older brother, Harara Hagakure. They were both given armor by their father, but while Kakugo is able to keep the damned souls powering his armor in check, Harara isn’t, and turns evil, and also into a woman for some reason that’s never really explained all that well. Harara also turned into an environmentalist, which is why s/he has vowed to finish what the unexplained apocalypse started by wiping out all of humanity with his/her army of mutants and demons. Of course, in spite of having an entire army at his/her disposal, s/he insists on sending them one at a time. Worked for Rita Repulsa, right?

That being said, this OVA is a great example of weird old anime that is just so damn entertaining to watch. It is filled to the brim with graphic violence which includes things like a monster that is a literal man-eater, who will grab random guys off the streets and kill any woman who happens to be with him by squeezing them until their insides squirt out like toothpaste out of a tube.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

It also doesn’t shy away from gratuitous nudity, which is just as likely to be fan dis-service, like the six-breasted bear seen in the opening of the OVA, or really the majority of the monsters sent after Kukugo and his classmates. Most are dressed in very little, and one of them even uses his dick as his main weapon.

The weird visual design only adds to the oddness of this anime, and with the complete lack of story and plot structure it is very riffable. It is one of the most absurd animes I’ve watched, and it manages to keep just on the right side of funny while it indulges in its own stupidity. I would still recommend this anime, though, as long as you understand the dark weirdness you’re getting into. This is the kind of thing you watch with friends to get drunk and make fun of together.

Fuck Yeah! Check it Out!

Apocalypse Zero (2 episode OVA)
Based on the manga by Takayuki Yamaguchi
Animated by Ashi Productions and AIC
Produced by Big West Advertising, Victor Entertainment, and Tomy

Quiet Death, or Blaze of Glory?

Yasuke has it all, just not all together. Not unlike its title character.
by Bob Johnson

Here’s a show that came out exactly nine days too late last year: Yasuke. I do not know what chemical blend fuelled the production of this technicolor blur, but my friend has this desperate need to get some of it.

Livestreamed from the editing room.

Since there’s very little I can say about Yasuke that hasn’t been said more rudely elsewhere, let’s just start with the positives: This is a beautifully animated show with a killer soundtrack. We’re talking tunes that make you forget how direly anime needs another Nujabes — Flying Lotus could very well rise to the call. Lakeith Stanfield nails the VA for the title role. And well, I can’t really remember the last time I managed to hear about anime on NPR – maybe the FuniCrunch merger made the business section – but they talked up some Yasuke for sure. So Netflix indeed put some weight behind this and marketed the shit out of it, this is not one of the obscure, back-burner titles.

But the plot? It is… hot garbage. It barely budges from the through line of the standard sword-and-damsel plot, plus or minus certain squiggly arrows doodled on the storyboard, all hastily drawn around boxes with fresh Xs drawn through them. This is so palpable I’m trying to spit out the taste of red Sharpie. There’s so much that seems to occur “in between” episodes, almost as if entire extra episodes were meant to have taken place in the meantime. I’d call it Gonzo Ending, but the whole show is this way.

Out of everyone available, I mostly blame Netflix: its famously immutable budgets were unlikely to have covered a full 10 or 12 episodes once the bills started rolling in from MAPPA to draw up LeSean Thomas’ vision. The rest of this show, however epic it was to be, found itself on the cutting room floor.

So, legitimate question: if you were in the same bind, would you decide to go with dull, cheap animation to tell your whole story – or would you turn every knob up to 11, break them off, and spam “robots versus katanas” until your cash ran out?

As odd as it may seem to say, this show’s incompleteness may make it uniquely suited as a “gateway anime” – something to get the new anime viewer hungry for more substantial shows. Anime may be more popular than ever, but there are still plenty of folks out there who don’t fully grasp the capabilities of the medium. One look at Yasuke will cure anyone of that.

Word is that more of this show is coming. I don’t think that, at this late stage, it would make any sense to try to fill it in, as tempting as it may be to complete “missing” episodes. My vote would be for a prequel, as Yasuke’s personal history remains shrouded in mystery.

I would mostly recommend Yasuke for people who are less familiar with anime and want something that can, in about three hours, introduce them to a wide range of anime tropes. And if you like watching anime for the background noise, this is a must-hear.

Maybe look it up:
Yasuke
(6 episode anime)
Story by LeSean Thomas and Flying Lotus
Produced by MAPPA, Distributed by Netflix

Yearning for a More Complex Story

Reminiscing About a First Love
by Bolt Vanderhuge

You only get to experience having a first love once, and for me, the first anime I loved was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I had seen other anime first, but I still consider this series to be my gateway anime, because it is the one that really made me take anime seriously as a storytelling medium. The first time I saw it was in the last part of its second season airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, way back in the spring of 2006, and even though I had no idea of what was going on, I was instantly drawn in by the drama and intrigue I saw and hooked. Thankfully, the series was re-run a short time later, and I was finally able to watch the entire series, and I soon found myself enthralled with it. Not long afterwards, I was invited to join my local university’s anime club by some friends, and I had begun my journey to become a Maximum Weeaboo. But while I have watched many animes since then, including some very good ones, this series still remains my favorite.

Based on a manga by Masamune Shirow and produced by Production I.G, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex follows the secretive and elite Section 9 of Japan’s Public Security, made up entirely of former members of the military and police and tasked with solving and preventing cybercrime. All of its members are cyborgs, running the spectrum of Togisa, the rookie of the group who only has an implant which allows him to interface electronically as well as to communicate using a kind of cybernetic telepathy with his teammates, to the mysterious and aloof leader of the group, known mainly as “The Major,” whose entire body is prosthetic.

Like Voltaire, I cannot help but wonder if it’s fully functional and anatomically correct.

While they run into a number of interesting cases that make the series semi-episodic in nature, they soon stumble upon a conspiracy that involves a major corporation and the government which begins to move into the forefront. One of the things I liked about this was that the main story arc started out as just another investigation into something kind of weird that was going on, in this case involving a super-hacker known as “The Laughing Man,” and slowly evolved into the main plot of the show.

While hackers can already be a headache thanks to utilities and infrastructure being connected to the internet, this series expands on that through the premise that advancing technology has allowed people to become cyborgs, and even become commonplace, such that most people can connect their brains to the internet, which in turn allows them to be “ghost-hacked.” This allows a hacker to do everything from altering a person’s perceptions, to remotely controlling their body. This is just one of the themes explored by this show which asks exactly what makes a human, since literally every part of a person can be replaced but their brain, and leaves them vulnerable to having their memories altered or erased, the way they sense the world around them being corrupted, or even having their minds and bodies taken over completely, and used like a puppet. There’s also a question of trans-humanism hanging there, with the possibility that humans might be able to live as a consciousness on “the net,” entirely free of a body. At the same time, AI has advanced to the point that it might be argued they actually do represent a form of life themselves.

As a sci-fi fan, this kind of stuff really appealed to me, and I can’t help but feel completely in love with this show in spite of its flaws, like how it takes a bit of time to randomly bash the United States because someone at Production I.G apparently has an axe to grind. But this aside, the series has an interesting premise and plot, with characters I can care about and root for, as well as a beautiful semi-realistic visual design. While I know some people might complain about fan service (check out the original manga sometime), it’s clear that the story is first and foremost, unlike so many shows that have come out since this one.

Fuck Yeah! Check It Out:
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (52 episode anime)
Based on the manga by Masamune Shirow
Produced by Production I.G, Licenced by Funimation

Streaming (press time): Adult Swim, Funimation

Love and Friendship in the Hivemind Age

Kokoro Connect takes mistaken identity to a whole new level
by Bob Johnson

Today, we have 3D virtual reality experiences, even people who literally just walk around and livestream their eye-level headspace to the whole world. Most human beings have a great deal of capacity for empathy and reflection, and think easily of what they might do in another person’s place. Yet *literally* walking around in someone else’s shoes is still the stuff of science fiction, and alien body snatcher horror. Smash these ideas together with a high school slice-of-life anime, and suddenly, you have Kokoro Connect on your hands.

Club advisor Goto in Exposition Dump mode.

The setup is plainly stated: A jerkwad alien going by the name of Heartseed wants to play “New Rule” at a level never envisioned by Bill Maher, decreeing bizarre psychic swaps and brainleaks between these erstwhile BFFs, and presenting a monotone spiel that makes it clear that the level of regard for their lives is on par with a collegebound kid debating whether to keep or burn an ant farm. Every few episodes, Heartseed returns to shake the ant farm and observe if our characters manage to tunnel out again.

Seeing these concepts play out with random variations over 15 episodes is both wonderful and annoying. Annoying in that we get to see in detail how much certain people “literally can’t even” with whiffs of Shinji Ikari wafting off the steaming pile of certain episode scripts. But also wonderful to see these concepts woven into a semi-realistic tapestry of ordinary lives, which despite all this adversity, still manage to muddle through and find happiness.

Heartseed’s experiments mess only with members of Yamaboshi High School’s Cultural Studies Club, another one of those catchall do-nothing low-membership student clubs so common in anime. The energetic club president, Iori, is joined by just four others: the serious Taichi, the carefree Aoki, icy Inaba, and anxious Yui.

You couldn’t ask for a more average-looking student club.

When every day is Freaky Friday, the clubmates have to adapt to strange situations on the fly, occasionally with hilarious results. As they attempt to live their lives without tipping off others to their strange predicament, they’re helped along by the lackadaisical club advisor, Mr. Go, and Iori’s capable, well-organized class rep, Fujishima. Of course, nothing’s perfect, as Mr. Go slips into Jekyll-and-Hyde mode whenever Heartbleed wants to appear, and the romance-obsessed Fujishima often meddles in their already strained relationships.

Class rep Fujishima says hunger (and love) is the best spice.

The show’s 17 episodes are split into one 13 episode season and a 4 episode OVA. While it’s often easy to skip extra episodes, in this case the OVA really is essential to wrap things up, so if you decide to watch and don’t otherwise drop off from the show, go ahead and finish it all. In addition to the anime, otaku fond of a quiet sitdown can look at any of the 11 original Kokoro Connect light novels, also translated into English.

The show is alternately sweet and bittersweet, dramatic and comedic, dark and silly. Suffice it to say, it is a moody, non-stop feels train. It’s hard to suggest as a starter show to newbie anime viewers, but it is very much in the same lane as other complex works at the interface of sci-fi/fantasy and relationships, like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Orange, Haruhi Suzumiya, or Your Name.

Despite its complexity, as its overall focus is squarely on relationships, I think Kokoro Connect is worth a watch at this time of year. Sure, you could watch dozens of other romance shows, the ones that dither about clothes and flowers and which member of the harem is best, but where’s the *edge*? Kokoro Connect will hit you right in the gut, and set you back up again. Not bad if that’s what you’re looking for.

Maybe look it up:
Kokoro Connect (13 episode anime + 4 episode OVA)
Based on the light novels by Anda Sadanatsu
Produced by Silver Link, Licenced by Sentai

Streaming (press time): Crunchyroll, HiDive

Chargin’ My Disgust

Beating Other Bad Anime Out
by Bolt Vanderhuge

In the world of infamous anime, there are a lot of names that tend to get brought up, at least among us older otaku. This isn’t one of them. Instead, this one has a personal connection to me, from back when I first started really watching anime. I probably heard about this one thanks to TV Tropes on one of my reading binges, and since it’s an ecchi anime that really walks the line of just being straight up porn (and occasionally just hops right over it in my opinion), it was probably something that caught my interest for pervy reasons.

I am not above enjoying the occasional tentacle hentai, after all.

Essentially, this is just another ecchi with a gimmick, that gimmick being that there is a parallel dimension inhabited by a business that utilizes magical girls who use a kind of electro-shock therapy to make depressed humans feel happy and revitalized again – to “charge them up” to put it another way. They are thus called “charger girls” (at least in the localization), and the moé-blob protagonist we end up following is called Plug, with many of the other characters using this electrically-based naming scheme as something of a joke. These characters are able to fly and remain completely invisible and intangible to humanity, along with the tools they have hidden in human technology to accomplish their mission of charging up depressed humans. I’m not entirely sure how a business is built around this “service,” but the writers probably had no idea either, as its only real function is to fit into the typical trope of the perpetually poor screw-up fan service girl because Plug so often manages to fail at her job and destroy equipment in the process, and this is supposed to be funny.

And really, that’s the problem with the series as a whole. It just tries constantly to be funny, but fails basically every time at it. Which makes for a parallel with its protagonist, now that I think about it. In any case, I just feel like the humor completely misses, in part because of just how horrible so many aspects of this show are.

I hope that my earlier admission makes it perfectly clear that I am not some prudish snob who just hates fan service, and with that a given that you’ll also believe me when I say that I don’t use the M-word lightly. That word tends to be thrown around a lot these days, so I tend to reserve it for something I feel obviously deserves it, and this one does – like a baseball bat to the brain pan.

I bring this up, because so much of the “humor” of this show is based entirely around the fact that the male lead, a rather ill-tempered restaurant worker named Sento, is actually able to see these charger girls, and his default reaction is to grab an aluminum baseball bat (or whatever else is handy), and hit them in the head as hard as he can. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this is usually accompanied by the charger girl peeing herself. This is also occasionally conflated with orgasm (such as during their magical girl transformation sequence), especially in the case of an especially uptight, asshole charger girl who reveals that she actually enjoys being beamed in the head so hard that she loses consciousness and pees herself, and even develops romantic feelings for Sento because of it. And this is all played as humor.

I really just don’t have anything to say beyond that, other than maybe “shit’s pretty fucked.” I guess the only real faint praise I can give this series is that, at least it’s completely up front about what it is, right from the opening scene. Needless to say, this is not something I would recommend anyone to watch. This is also probably about the only time that I’m kind of happy that a show has actually stayed pretty obscure (which is admittedly not helped by me writing an article about it), but if you are a glutton for punishment, you can actually legitimately stream a subtitled version of this on Crunchyroll, completely for free, albeit somewhat censored. Surprisingly, this anime actually did get a dub, as it was one of the many sleazy animes licensed by Media Blasters, and there are probably used DVDs of it still floating around out there. This is actually kind of anger-inducing in its own right, not because it got a dub exactly, but because there are so many other animes out there which still haven’t been dubbed but would deserve one way more than something like this does. In any case, I really hope that if you insist on watching this frankly insulting anime, that you don’t waste any money to do so.

Fuck No! Don’t Check it Out:
Charger Girl Juden-chan (Faito ippatsu! Juden-chan!!)
based on the manga by Bow Ditama
Produced by Studio Hibari, Licenced by Media Blasters

Binary Stars and other BS

Infinite Ryvius and Twin Spica both serve to bother space otaku
by Bob Johnson

I’m a huge space nerd. But I need to say something about space anime. So many of my favourite anime are set in space: Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, just to name a few. For obvious reasons, Space continues to be a common setting for SF anime. That also means that there’s plenty of disappointing space anime out there (cough Glass Fleet cough). Here, I give half a chance each to two space-themed shows on the wobbly soft end of the space-opera scale, Twin Spica and Infinite Ryvius.

Twin Spica

Kei-chan agrees: Twin Spica kind of stinks.

Twin Spica is an uncommon fusion of soap opera and supernatural mystery, all overdosed on space science trivia. It is also thoroughly Shojo and Slice of Life, and that means it is SLOOoooOOW. It’s about Asumi, a disaster-affected moéblob whose aspiration is to become a “rocket driver” for her dad and her ghost friend. And since this is future-Japan, sure enough, there’s a high school in Tokyo for that!

Shu-kun knows where he’s going.

I think the real height of the show was episodes 4 and 6 (a two-parter split by E05, a filler episode). 4/6 showed the real essence of spaceflight, disguised as an entrance exam. The rest of the show — mostly boredom punctuated by frenzied moments of excitement — is also very on the nose for the flight experience in general.

While there are a fair number of active moments, even borderline awesomeness in this show, it’s important to note how wabi-sabi this all is. Asumi’s quest is not simply a trip to space camp, but a heart-wrenching tale of loss, loneliness, and quiet desperation.

Asumi-chan spills a bunch of CGI on the floor.

Though Twin Spica was crafted to be an edutainment show for younger kids, Japanese sensibilities intrude to prevent me from calling it kid-friendly everywhere. I don’t think a dubbed version was ever officially released in North America, but there is one of those Animax english dubs floating around. Thus, my occasional quest to find chibi-compatible shows continues to strike out. I may personally finish it, though.

Infinite Ryvius

Infinite Ryvius is boring! How do you make space boring? Mainly… have people fight for no reason! Shout and scream all the time and don’t actually do anything! Infinite Ryvius reminds me a bit of Stargate: Universe in this respect. Instead of sending professionals out there, just send a bunch of untrained cadets and chaos agents on your important space mission. That’ll work, right?

Infiinte Ryvius in a nutshell: it’s all there ready for you — but why am I not hungry anymore?

Essentially, generic anime protagonist and too many of his classmates are stuck on a sinking space station. Sinking into what? Good question! Not a gravity well or planetary atmosphere though, that would be too obvious. Infinite Ryvius aspires to be a tokusatsu disaster epic, but there is just so much trouble establishing the suspension of disbelief. I despise half of the cast from the get-go, I don’t care for the all-too-obvious mystery elements, but probably its worst offence is that it doesn’t even use real science — much like Space Battleship Yamato 2199’s space-submarine episode, they invented a new form of reality to allow their space station to sink into a space-ocean. I have no doubt there are new discoveries to be made in physics, but I strongly doubt there is any kind of dimensional rift within the solar system that makes this show even remotely plausible.

What’s good about this show? Uhm, well, It’s vaguely actiony and has a hip-hop soundtrack. The dub – tastefully cheesy – may be enough to put this show on a “so bad it’s good” groupwatch. But I just cannot get past the third episode on my own without falling asleep.


Maybe look it up:
Twin Spica (Futatsu no Spica) 20 episode anime
based on the manga by Kou Yaginuma
Produced by Group TAC


Don’t look it up:
Infinite Ryvius 26 episode anime
Written by Yosuke Kuroda, Directed by Goro Taniguchi
Produced by Sunrise, Licenced by Sentai