I will never escape from this franchise, will I?

I’ve written, at this point, nine different pieces related in some major way to RWBY. That’s insane, but what’s even crazier is that this is going to be the tenth. This is also considering the few post ideas that I’ve dropped, like “The Top Ten Best Things About RWBY,” a post I was planning to make in order to sate some angry fans, but lost interest in back when I still hated the series. Now that I’m a legitimate fan, as well as a proud owner of two RWBY action figures, my posts have generally gotten more positive, unless they were referring to the criminally unfunny Chibis series. And now I’m getting pulled back in again.

Keep in mind, this isn’t something I was planning to do. Not long after I wrote the Inconvenient Questions post for volume 2, I found I had a commenter on my volume 3 review chiding me for my opinions back when I reviewed the first two volumes. I agreed with him, and promised to CONSIDER writing this very post, with the provision that I’d have to get a certain set of other posts wrapped up first.  Well, they’re wrapped, which brings me back to this post.  Now, there’s a reason I’m going ahead with this idea; Because I rarely ever get requests, and I like to honor them when I do. Having said that, I was still a little hesitant with this one, but for the record, this post was requested by Serocco, and it’s going to focus on how my opinion has changed on the first two volumes of RWBY since the third one converted me into a fanboy… And how some of my opinions have stayed the same.

But first, there’s something I’ve never told you guys, and I feel as though it would be the perfect jumping off point for this topic. The first time I saw RWBY, way back when it was still new and all I knew about it was the hype, the creators and what the name stood for, I didn’t make it past the first episode. This is not an exaggeration. The writing was so bad that before the timer even ran out on episode 1, I was already turning it off and shuffling it over to some pile of shows I’d never feel enticed to touch again. Granted I DID come back after it exploded in popularity, but I’d like to share with you for a moment what made me drop it in the first place.

I don’t recall having a problem with the opening narration… Honestly, the first time around, I strangely can’t even remember there being narration… But I found myself having two major problems with the episode right off the bat. First of all, Ruby was listening to a CD near a music shelf, using a pair of sample headphones. What kind of store was this to even have those? Only music and entertainment stores have those, and not all of them, so I found it a little hard to believe a pair would exist inside of a tiny little dust shop.

As for my second problem? Well, let’s break this down. Torchwik said, as clearly as daylight, that they were there for dust, and not for money. All they were going to do was empty the dust dispensers, and their job would be done. However, one of his henchmen abandoned his job and tried to rob Ruby… For what? Did he really think she’d have enough dust on her to justify him leaving his station? He approached her, and she did the cliche of a deceptively powerful character smirking over the fact that they’re abut to be challenged by a lesser being… See Mindy’s final scene from Kick-Ass as a quick example… and she started kicking ass.

Here’s the problem… He had no reason to bother her, and yet by doing so, he alerted her to a crime she likely wouldn’t have known about otherwise. If he hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have fought Roman, she wouldn’t have met Glinda, and she wouldn’t have skipped grades to attend Vale, meaning the school would have been doomed and Salem’s plans would have run a lot more smoothly. See, the true hero of Vale isn’t Ruby, it’s some random henchman who had ONE FUCKING JOB. Granted, back then, I didn’t know most of that, I just hated the fact that the henchman approaching Ruby made no freaking sense. Then I saw her in the interview, talking like she’d been written by a grown man(which is true, but there should be more of an illusion), and eating cookies that disappeared the second they hit her mouth, and I was done. That’s where I cut off. The animation did nothing for me, and the writing was maddeningly bad.

My first time, I dropped the series before Ruby could even finish her cookies.

In any case, my opinion on the writing hasn’t changed. The dialogue in RWBY volume 1 is still terrible. It’s full of unfunny jokes(“I drink milk”), phrasings that sound like an adult male with no idea how girls actually talk came up with them(“My dearest sister Yang…”), awkward phrases that no human being would naturally use(“You’re discriminatory”), and ad-libs that the director really shouldn’t have allowed past the recording(“She does love Tuna a lot”). It can honestly get cringeworthy at times. Even after being converted into a fan, the only laughs that volume 1 can get out of me are from some of Ruby and Weiss’s interactions, like the ‘girl who exploded’ running gag, Ruby questioning Weiss’s abilities right before getting launched into the Nevermore, and of course, “It’s a combat skirt.”

But one thing my opinion HAS changed on is the characters. I still hold to the idea that Yang was defined primarily as “Ruby’s big sister” during this volume, but there was more depth given to Weiss and Blake… Well, kind of. Weiss was given two arcs, one with Ruby and one with Blake, while Blake had her own at the end of the series, and you do learn a lot about the two of them through the two arcs… Unfortunately, these arcs, along with Jaune’s, that tried to deal with issues like ego, teamwork, bullying, racism and even race relations, were handled with all the depth and nuance of an Arthur episode, and they all ended fairly easily… One of them through an immediate talking-to with teachers, and the other two after fight scenes. Considering the issues being raised, I can’t help asking… Is that it? Ruby and Weiss are going to patch things up this quickly? Carden’s just going to forget the info he has on Jaune? What changed Weiss’s mind about Blake since the last time we saw her?

And yeah, I hate to say it, but compared to the first half, the second half of the volume is kind of boring.

But the characters ARE better developed and presented than I remember, which is the entire point. I appreciate how, in the fight scene against the Nevermore and Death Stalker, the teams formed naturally around their eventual leaders, a detail I missed the first time around. I also take back everything I said about the character templates being randomly and haphazardly chosen. I get the themes, now. Team RWBY are based on fairy tale characters, Team JNPR are based on genderbent tragic heroes, and everyone important to Oz’s inner circle is based on a Wizard of Oz character. It makes more sense than I gave it credit for, and it actually works a lot better, too.

Having said that, a jump from a 2/10 to a 4/10 isn’t a big one, and I still consider volume 1 to be, well, bad. Maybe not AS bad as I first stated, but… Bad.

As for volume 2… Well, I wish I had as much to say about it as I did about volume 1, but I really don’t. A lot of the differences are the same, just at a better ratio. It still has lame jokes and bad dialogue, but not nearly as much. The story is a lot more streamlined and the tone is a lot more consistent, and there’s a bunch of character development that slipped under my radar. I think the biggest problem with my Vol. 2 review is that I only watched the volume once before reviewing it, despite having seen vol. 1 about three times. Also, I’m going to be chastised again for this, but I saw both without watching the trailers, thus I was going into all four characters without the proper introductions. This is primarily the reason that I saw the development between Yang and Blake as abrupt and cloying, when it was actually very well set up. I still hold to everything I said about that stupid dog, and while I appreciated him having a reduced role in volume 3, it took Chibis to make me actually like Zwei. Volume 2 is… Okay. It’s okay. I still don’t enjoy the foodfight on many, many levels, but after a rough first few episodes, it does come into it’s own really well.

Also, I kind of hesitate to say this, but as talented and amazing as they are now, Lindsey Jones and Barbara Dunkleman kind of sucked in volume 1. I’m not just talking about all of Lindsey’s unfortunate ad-libbing, but just as actors, they didn’t really seem to know what they were doing in this volume. But hey, like I said, they get a lot better in volumes 2 and 3. And I guess that’s it. I bit my tongue about Monty Oum, especially since I’ve said all I can say about him in part 1, and since I watched both of these volumes on Netflix(during a rare moment of good internet reception on my PS4), I don’t know anything that may have been said in the commentary tracks. So that’s really all there is to say about volumes 1 and 2, unless you have a specific question to ask me in the comments section.

But you know what? Fuck it. While I’m writing this thing anyway, let’s take a look at how RWBY Chibi’s coming along, 18 episodes in from when I reviewed it’s first two.

Well, in all fairness, this is supposed to be a comedy series, and humor is subjective. different people will find different things funny based on their own personal perspective, tastes, and standards. I can only really compare Rooster Teeth’s efforts to my own comedic sensibilities, which is unfortunate, because after 20 episodes, I’ve only laughed at about five percent of the clips I’ve seen. Am I a harsh critic? Am I hard to please? Maybe, but honestly, I just don’t think RWBY Chibi is very good.

I already reviewed the first two episodes, going as far as to go clip-by-clip with them, and a lot of what I said back then still stands… I don’t think Rooster Teeth has the comedic timing or style to pull off a proper Chibi show. While I’ll admit that the majority of the clips manage to fall somewhere on the middle of the spectrum between good and bad, with only a few very rare clips being pathetic or out of character enough to really be off-putting, most of the clips just feel like misfired ideas.

There are plenty of clips where you can figure out exactly what’s going to happen way too early on, making a long joke out of what could have been a short joke. There are plenty of jokes that don’t have satisfactory punchlines, others that drag on too long, and some that are just downright confusing. There are some more interesting failures, like in episode 5, when characters address the early flaws in the series, with Blake acknowledging the fact that she has four ears or Team RWBY noticing the stock shadow people walking around, that probably would have been funny if they’d been made a year or two ago.

There were a few funny clips sprinkled throughout, but even more impressive are the two episodes that I feel stand out from the others… Episode 6 was consistently funny, as it created a great conclusion to the “Blake being scared of Zwei” running gag, a clip about Ruby’s cape that probably would have been funnier if the three segments were rearranged for the sake of escalation(Ruby getting hanged should have come last), Blake and her books putting on a classic gag with a surprisingly deft use of timing, and finally, the triumphant return of Pyrrha, which would have been awesome enough if Nora hadn’t stolen the show and made something especially memorable out of it.

The other one, episode 12, starts out by introducing the Junior Detectives clips(which, as far as I’m concerned, have ALL turned out to be funny), and poor Jaune does his best butt-monkeying in this one. It concludes with what may be the most sophisticated clip in the entire series, Ruby’s take on Little Red Riding Hood, which features Ruby, Zwei, Blake and Yang firing on all cylinders for what I consider to be Chibi’s crowning achievement. I can watch it over and over and still laugh at Blake’s indignation at Ruby’s exploitation of her, and especially at Yang’s eagerness to steal the show any way she can. Professor Mustache’s cameo was also really unexpected.

Also, I have to give a shout-out to the painting vignette in episode 10. Unfortunately, it was paired with a love triangle-ish clip that was really only amusing the first time through.

So, over-all, RWBY Chibi isn’t the worst thing ever, but it’s hard for me to find value in a comedy series that’s about 95 percent ineffective to me. There’ve been a handful of great clips, and two great episodes, and the animation’s really spot-on… Even though I feel flash would have worked better… And it did get me to admit to the potential value of Zwei. So I can’t write it off entirely.

Well, now, is there anything left to say? Yeah, I guess there is, in regards to volume 4. I don’t want to watch ti episode by episode. I want to watch it all at once when it hits DVD. The problem with that is, I hang out in a lot of anime loving circles, and RWBY is of course insanely popular with the anime community, so watching along with the releases is probably the best way to avoid being spoiled. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. I’ve made it this far without watching the new season of Red vs. blue, but not well enough to avoid hearing that Caboose and Grif’s sister are both (spoiler) Freelancers.

I don’t know, time will tell.

And speaking of time, guess what time it is? Starting next week, it’s going to be Otakutober, the month of anime horror! I’ve got some special material for you, including an awesome guest post, so get your hopes up good and high for my next five releases!

Going to a new school is never easy. Having to uproot your life and leave behind everything you know just to satisfy whatever reason your parents have that you’re too young to understand is hardly fair for anyone, even though sometimes there’s no choice in the matter. But what’s even more unfair is when your family’s situation has nothing to do with it… When your school closes down, and without a formal establishment left to provide you with an education, you have to either go to a neighboring school where you’ll have the immediate disadvantage or to home school where you may never have opportunities to see your old friends again. this is the dilemma that’s been posed to Hikari, Manaka, and their friends Chisaki and Kaname, who’ve been forced to abandon their failing Nami Junior High and migrate to Mihama Middle School, and to make matters worse, they face discrimination the minute they set foot on campus… Not because of the color of their skin or the way they speak, but because of WHERE they’ve come from… Shioshishio, the village under the sea.

No, that’s not just a bizarre local catchphrase… Our four heroes are basically amphibious mermaids without tails. They can breathe with ease both in and out of the water, but need to be periodically drenched in salt water to keep themselves from dehydrating. At Hikari’s insistence, they all come to school wearing their old uniforms, a show of pride and resistance against their new day-to-day environment, which is an attitude their new classmates are all too willing to share, making comments about them smelling fishy and rejecting them as inhuman beings. On the surface(Pun not intended), this separation could be seen as a good thing, because if a surface dweller and a sea dweller ever cross the line with each other, the latter will be banished from Shioshishio and forced to live the rest of their lives as a human, which is a curse that has become all too common in the recent past. With vitriolic prejudice tormenting them on one side and the charms of one open-minded boy tempting them from the other, will these four fish out of water be able to balance their lives between home and school, or are both surf and turf headed for a new ice age hundreds of years in the making?

While Studio Bones may be my favorite animation studio in terms of content output, PA Works is probably the best one I’ve seen in terms of quality and visual consistency. I’ve commented before on how Kyoto Animation, Studio Gainax and JC Staff can put out great looking shows that break down and become really cheap looking whenever the budget gets cut too thin, but PA Works is the few where I don’t think I’ve ever seen this happen. I can easily say the same thing for their 2013 offering, A Lull in the Sea, because the budget doesn’t really drop until the second half, and even then, it’s a pretty difficult drop for the inexperienced to notice. Visually, this series is just as teeming with life as any ocean, and this is especially clear in the ocean, where there are schools of fish swimming around through the environment, in both the background, foreground, and once in a while they even interact with the sea dwelling humans on screen.

Character animation is also crisp and fresh, with little pieces of extra effort sprinkled in here and there to make their movements underwater feel more realistic, and to make their lack of practice moving above water feel a little more awkward. The character designs are nothing too extravagant, especially with most of the nameless adults looking more or less the same, and the only character who doesn’t look like he’d been pulled from the real world being the Sea God’s remnant, Uroko-sama. The kids look fairly generic, but for the most part, their personalities are so distinct that you won;t have any trouble remembering what each one looks like. Their facial expressions are also very fluidly animated, highly expressive, and full of either youthful passion or adult stoicism, depending on the character. I did of course mention the animation budget drops in the second half, and thankfully, there’s a canonical reason for this.

I won’t spoil what happens halfway through the series, but what I will say is that there’s a reason for the underwater setting to lose all of it’s fish and most of it’s people, and there’s also a reason for both sea and surface to a more intensely white color palette. The lack of underwater visual effects cannot be explained, however, but the lack of diverse expressions and extra movement can be traced back to a major shift in focus and tone, as there’s just a lot less going on in the second half than there is in the first half. More on that later, but I’m pretty sure a huge chunk of the budget in the second half must have gone to the 3D visual effect of salt-flake snow falling in both the sea and surface settings. All that aside, the point that’s most worth remembering is that the series may lose some of it’s flair, but it never gets so bad that it looks cheap, which is one thing you can always say for PA Works.

The soundtrack, for the most part, sticks to piano and string instruments, played in such a way that they almost sound like they’re echoing underwater. It’s music that, for the most part, that reminds you of the sea, even if it wasn’t attached to this series. There are some exceptions, like Ofunehiki no Uta, which draws upon a fictionalized Japanese tradition, and thus falls back on a much more traditionally eastern sounding orchestration, complete with backup singers and what might be the only wind instruments in the show. Another odd standout is Uroko Sama no Monogatari, a tune that plays around the character of Uroko-sama, and oddly enough, it almost sounds like the extended beginning to a country song. I can’t really say that it’s a memorable soundtrack, and there really aren’t any standouts that you’d get any enjoyment out of without having the show to put them in context, but there are quite a few of them that can move you to tears if you listen to them while remembering the scenes that they were used in, especially in the case of Ofunehiki no Uta.

The first opening, named after the anime itself, is a bit on the generic side, an upbeat pop song that you could find attached to pretty much any slice of life anime. The visuals, on the other hand, are nothing if not stunning. While the song fits the mold of slice of life, the video that accompanies it breaks that mold, offering a beautiful look at the two towns and their inhabitants, all while remaining consistent with the animation quality from that half of the series. On a related note, there’s water animation in this opening that could hold it’s own against Free!. The first ending theme, Aqua Terrarium, is also somewhat generic, albeit with it’s visual accompaniment being lingering shots of one of Manaka motionless in the sea. So, yeah, standard ending animation. The second opening, Ebb and Flow, carries a much more somber tone than the first one, and it’s imagery of time having passed can possibly tug at your heart strings for an episode or two, at least until you realize what direction the rest of the series is taking. The second ending theme, Mitsuba no Musubi, is just as unremarkable as the first, albeit with an unexpected shift in art style.

The english dub was produced by Bang Zoom, and I just want to say off the bat that I’ve been turning into a HUGE Max Mittelman fan lately. He’s still relatively new in the industry, but as I mentioned in my One Punch Man review, he deserves all of the lead roles he’s already been getting. He’s playing a character who starts off angsty and confrontational, and if we’re being completely honest, he’s also kind of an asshole. He develops over time to become much more reasonable and understanding, and throughout the whole process, he plays off of Michelle Ruff’s Manaka(Can I call her Monica from here on? Screw it, I’m gonna anyway) beautifully. While Monica is the target of both Hikari’s aggression and later affection, she’s no hapless Yamato Nadeshiko type character. She responds to his behavior the way any actual girl her age would respond to a close friend acting like a bully, by chastising him for being aggressive and threatening to stop hanging out with him if he doesn’t cool it. They become much stronger characters by the halfway point, and the actors have more than enough chemistry to pull it off.

Unfortunately, I can’t speak as glowingly about the rest of the main four, as Kaname and Chisaki aren’t quite as interesting as their floundering friends. They’re not unlikeable characters… At least, not at first… But it’s hard to describe them outside of their looks and their positions inside of the show’s love polygon. Brianna Knickerbocker and Bryce Papenbrook perform admirably in these roles, but still feel quite underused. Xanthe Huynh and Erica Mendez have a much more rewarding turn as Miuna, a little girl from a damaged home, and Akari, the woman who’s found herself tied by fate to Miuna’s single father. Their efforts to overcome prejudice and unchecked emotional turmoil in order to come together as a family is one of the biggest driving forces of the first half of the series, a fact that wasn’t lost on either actress, who put out some of the most genuine, raw emotion out of the show’s entire cast. Chris Hackney also does a commendable job as Tsumugu, a land-living boy who finds himself drawn into Hikari’s group of friends. He’s not the first actor to give a stoic character personality, but he still pulls it off pretty damn well. There aren’t very many standout performances over-all, but it’s still a solid dub that’s more or less on equal footing with the original sub.

At first glance, A Lull in the Sea may appear to be another slice of life romantic comedy, with it’s only distinction being it’s neo-little-mermaid gimmick. Thankfully, the writers waste no time whatsoever establishing that there are real themes at play here, and that they’re timeless themes to boot. At the beginning of the series, the people of the land and the people of the sea are not on good terms whatsoever. I’ve seen plenty of fictional allegories for racism in my day, and while most of them amount to angry strawmen claiming “We round people shouldn’t be getting mixed up with them circle people” to the Disney version of Pocahontas sporting a song that blatantly states “They’re not like you and me, which means they must be evil,” Lull takes a much more thorough approach. The differences between the sea people and the surface people has some serious depth to it, as it exists not only in real time, but stretching back throughout their long term geographically close relationship with one another.

While it’s true that the setting does feel a bit underdeveloped, and the idea of an undersea village living as neighbors to a realistic, modern land village does bring up a lot of questions that never get answered, these flaws in world-building are easily over-shadowed by just how uncanny the plot’s resemblance to real life social issues can be. with the exception of the Sea God’s backstory, every single social injustice we see in this series can be drawn as a parallel to an issue that either occurs or used to occur in real life. The idea of middle and even high school students instantly rejecting and tormenting other students for the simple crime of being different has been happening since the dawn of time. It’s practically a rule of being adolescent, regardless of how adult international relationships may or may not be influencing it. For some minorities to want to rebel against this discrimination by being confrontational and having a bad attitude while others try to be on their best behavior in order to fight stereotypes through pacifism, and even for these two sects to clash with each other, is also disturbingly relevant to race relations in any society that’s managed to diversify itself. This is in stark contrast to Japan, a racially homogenous nation where this series oddly takes place.

Harking back to Hikari’s sister Akari(yes, those two names are put together in anime far, far too often), she originally had a job on the surface, until it was revealed that she was in love with her single father boss, and was harboring an intent to marry him. She was rejected outright from both sides, with her boss’s daughter not wanting the union to take place for certain spoiler reasons, but she was especially contested by her own people, including her father, because of a village rule stating that anyone who fell in love with a land lubber would never be allowed in the sea again. It’s later revealed that the legend of the Sea God was behind this rule, but even if he wasn’t, this attitude still rings true today, as there are tons of parents out there who would rather die than see their offspring wind up in a relationship that might compromise their heritage. Hell, one of my favorite scenes occurs long after the children have already put their differences aside, and the adults from both sides are coerced into a negotiation over a necessary ritual, which goes great until both sides start demanding apologies over perceived injustices of the past, an argument that almost becomes violent before the who kerfuffle is blamed on the kids, suggesting that racial differences are harder to get over for the older generation than the younger one.

If I hadn’t made it obvious to you by now, the two biggest recurring themes in this show(at least the interesting ones) are prejudice and desegregation, themes that are told primarily from the point of view of four sea-dwelling middle schoolers trying to fit in at a surface-dwelling school, but when you take a step back from them, you can see the issue from the perspectives of the human kids, the hopeful teacher, the adults who’ve lived through issues the kids can’t fully understand, the young star-crossed lovers and more. All of these different perspectives, almost all of which are realistic and relevant to the viewer in their own way, give the series a sense of depth and complexity that most slice of life shows can never even hope to reach. Characters grow and develop as their minds become more open and their hearts become more accepting, and yeah, even the bullies become likeable through the course of the story. There’s a sprinkling of developing crushes to add some spice to the main cast, but it takes a back seat to more important plotlines. All of this leads to a climax that’s equal parts inspiration and tragedy, and an ending that will have you crying your eyes out… Halfway through the series.

Yeah, this is pretty much where my praise of A Lull in the Sea ends, and the ravaging must begin. I’m going to try my best not to spoil the climax of episode 13, as I do believe everyone should be able to experience it blindly for themselves, but I will reveal some… stuff, from the second half, so here’s your warning. If I didn’t think it was important to talk about, I wouldn’t be spoiling it. For example, there’s the fact that episode 14 starts off with a five year time skip. One of our four main characters has aged naturally, but the other three are still 14, through some means I don’t feel like explaining. Considering how the first half ended, this isn’t the worst way to continue the series, and there is some potential for the story to develop under these circumstances, but here’s the problem… The racial tension, by this point, has been completely resolved. The people making the show must have realized they’d written themselves into a corner, and the only way to continue was to abandon all the depth of the first half and instead focus on the love-polygon, which quickly becomes a love-dodecahedron.

Going forward, a lot of dumb decisions are made to get the writers out of their corner, but the one that instantly had me doing the hardest head-desk of my life was when, in a flash-back, we hear nine year old Miuna getting jealous over Hikari, a character she’d never shown any special affection for throughout the first half. I did the math on the time skip, and guessed on the spot that this show was about to rely on one of the creepiest, unrealistic, sexist ideas that anime has ever come up with. To get a vague yet still accurate picture of what I’m talking about, picture Love Hina’s Keitaro Urashima, the boy who’s pursuing a girl he knew from his childhood. Now, instead of a male character falling back on a memory because he can’t get a girlfriend through any other means, picture a female character who COULD get a boyfriend, but refuses to because she’d rather end up an old maid than betray some dude she had a crush on as a child. It’s bad, and a lot of anime do it, but most anime don’t go the extra mile of using a time skip to make the girl and her old friend the same age so it’ll be okay. Only it’s not, because it’s still creepy.

Oh, and it gets worse… Her friend, the mischievous moppet Sayu, falls in love with another 14 year old because… Get this… He patted her on the head and called her a good girl. Ooh, scandalous, right? That has to be the most laughable catalyst for an “I WILL NEVER LOVE ANOTHER” that I have ever heard. I wish I could go into deeper spoilers, but I’ve already said too much, so let’s summarize this: The second half of the anime exists for two reasons. First of all, it exists to explore and conclude the love dodecahedron, which it doesn’t, and it also exists to ret-con the conclusion of episode 13 so that the series can end on a happier note, which… Unfortunately… is executed in a very fanficcy way that tears a massive plot hole in the lore of the story. Basically, the entire second half of the anime didn’t need or deserve to exist, especially since the first half ended on the perfect note, a beautiful tragedy that warranted no farther than one epilogue episode to wrap things up. You came close, Lull… You came close.

A Lull in the Sea is available stateside from NIS America, which of course means it’s ridonkulously expensive. Luckily, it’s also available in both dub and sub form on Crunchyroll for subscribers. The original manga by Project – 118 is not available stateside, nor is the follow-up four-panel manga from the same writer. Personally, I recommend the Crunchyroll subscription, if you can afford it. I had to cancel mine after paying 1000 dollars on a car bill, but then again, i’m an old ass adult. Subscribe with your parents’ money, kids!

A Lull in the Sea is kind of like The Big O… I fell in love with the first half, and then found my jaw dropping farther and farther to the floor as what was previously awesome and enjoyable became huge disappointments once they got over the hump. Also like Big O, I wish to God that MAL would separate the two halves into their own entries, so that I could judge them separately instead of lumping them together. Why does the second half of this show exist? What was the point of it? I’m not going to sit here and stream the manga, so I have no idea how well this show holds up against it, but if they did the second half just for accuracy, then maybe they should have broke away from the source material and found a way to end it with episode 14. None of these love interests needed to be resolved, which… Oh, by the way, they weren’t. Nor did the perfect ending, which happened at the show’s halfway point, need to be repeated under dumber circumstances to force a happy ending. This show could have been good. It should have been good. Yeah, a bad first half can be saved by a good second half, but a bad second half can destroy a good first half. This is a damn shame. I give A Lull in the Sea a 5/10.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? The last time I did an Inconvenient Questions post, it was about the classic stop-motion holiday special “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” and today, I’m going to hit up the title I teased over a year ago… RWBY, volume 2!

For those of you who’ve never seen an Inconvenient Questions post, it’s a feature I do where I watch something while pausing to write down every single question that I feel inspired to ask. My inquiry into Volume 1 produced more questions than any of the others so far, with a solid 222! I can’t wait to find out if this one is going to compete with it!

Also, because this is RWBY, I’ll try my best to avoid criticizing animation errors like clippings, but I’ll warn you that I’m only human, and some of these errors will most likely be too funny to not comment on. But to make fun of these in general would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Also, a few more notes;  I’ve only ever heard commentary on volume 3, so if any of these questions have been answered by the cast or creators, I have no idea.  Feel free to post any answers you have in the comments, and I’ll be thrilled to read them if you do.  Please don’t leave any comments saying that I nitpick too much, or that I take the things I watch too seriously, or that I should turn my brain off and enjoy things on their own merit…  I enjoy what I do, and I won’t change it for anybody.

In any case, I’m doing these in chronological order, and there’s going to be major spoilers, so you might just wanna follow along with me by watching RWBY volume 2 on Netflix!

And here we go!

1: Why can we hear that ship so clearly from the ground?

2: Why does that girl’s cleavage disappear halfway down?

3: Is their banter supposed to be funny?

4: I’ve tried carrying stacks of books like that before, so how is he keeping them from sliding all over the place?

5: And speaking of books, if cell phones have been reduced to scrolls in this society, why are books even still relevant? Wouldn’t they have invented the scroll-kindle by now?

6: Does that dramatic music mean Third Crusade is supposed to be some kind of big deal story in this world?

7: If this is a book trade, that would make this a used bookstore, right? So, it’s not really a matter of whether he carries it, but whether he currently has it, right?  And on another note, if he had every title they were asking about, would they be there for hours looking for a title he doesn’t have just so they can have an excuse to kill him?

8: So they came all the way out to whack this guy, and they open by criticizing his business slogan? That’s like walking into Bill Gray’s with a better tasting burger and then shooting the place up!

9: Is that notebook a shrine to Adam?

10: Ruby just made a reference to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. How is that possible?

11: And now Richard Nixon? Is this story taking place in a dystopian future, or do the people of Remnant just happen to know about American political history?

12: Wait, did she just say it’s been two weeks? Is she referring to season 1 only taking two weeks?

13: Is Neptune a faunus?

14: How did a cafeteria full of people turn into a food fight between just eight of them?

15: In what cafeteria would there be whole chickens and watermelons just sitting out? Is there really a high enough demand for them to keep them from going bad?

16: Not to mention baguettes that are stiff and stale enough to not break when used as swords.

17: Does Ruby have skateboarding experience?

18: Who the hell keeps a whole swordfish on a table in the cafeteria?!

19: That wave of food Ruby just splashed Team Juniper with was also full of broken plates and cups. Shouldn’t they have been impaled by the non-edible debris?

20: Why is Ozpin being so lenient about a food fight that took out some of the foundation and support of the building?

21: Okay, I get the rat/cat thing being a reference to Red Vs. Blue, but does that excuse it from making sense? He didn’t look like either of those things, OR a puma!

22: What does Glinda have against Ironwood?

23: What kind of game utilizes a board, pieces, multi-sided die and yugioh cards? I want a set…

24: Why are her tears running sideways?

25: What has Blake so paranoid, all of a sudden?

26: Who would go all the way to Vail to see a Spruce Willis movie? Cluck Norris could kick his ass anyday.

27: What’s with all the weirdly animated boob jiggling? Eiken looked more realistic.

28: Is Yang referring to the dude she made call her Sir?

29: Is Weiss’s skirt really that easy to get into? I don’t mean her crush on Neptune… I mean her hands, passing right through it like they don’t exist on the same plane!

30: Instead of the lame puma joke, wouldn’t a better Red Vs. Blue reference have been putting Vic in one of these terminals?

31: Why would Penny’s father let her wander through Beacon alone? Why would a robot be able to defy her creators like this?

32: Is Ironwood supposed to be a strawman for Drone warfare supporters?

33: Why does the shopkeeper drive his own supply truck?

34: How is a robot hiccupping?

35: How could anyone go this far without knowing Penny’s a robot? She totally acts like one!

36: If Neptune’s from Haven, does he have a connection to the villains?

37: After the damage Yang did to the bar last time, how does Junior owe her a drink? Or anything?

38: How do they know Roman’s a human? I mean he has no outwardly obvious animal parts, but neither did the bookstore guy. And he’s wearing a hat, so who knows he’s not hiding an antenna under there?

39: Not gonna lie, the first time I saw Neo, I pretty much guessed that would be her name. But just for the sake of asking a question, is she supposed to be the Harley to his Joker?

40: Wait, are you telling me that it took until dark for Weiss to leave the elevator and Ruby to get out of the dumpster? Seriously?

41: Is Son a fan of The Matrix: Reloaded?

42: Okay, I get that the names Ruby’s calling out are supposed to signal which two combatants are teaming up, but how do they have a specific attack coordinated for this specific occasion?

43: Was “Bumblebee” a wink and nod to the audience?

44: how did Torchwik survive the destruction of that mech? Isn’t that like being in a nasty car crash?

45: Where was Neo hiding? And how did they shatter/teleport like that?

46: If the members of CRDL were the first to grab their chess pieces and make it out of the woods, how are they this weak in combat?

47: Does Pyrrha now know that Mercury’s legs are metal?

48: What are they even graded on? I swear, Beacon Academy is just as bad as Death Meister Academy at clarifying what the hell anyone is studying.

49: And how does a catgirl get this little sleep? Even cutting down to 8 hours must leave her exhausted.

50: Not bad, Jean, but try Careless Whisper next time.

51: Holy shit… Having seen volume 3 puts Cinder’s comments about Pyrrha in a completely different context. Also, why do Mercury and Jean have similar tastes in comics?

52: Okay, Blake chasing a laser pointer is funny and all, but how is Yang getting it from all those different angles? How much is she moving around to make that happen?

53: Is Ren gay? I mean, it’s been hinted that there are non-straight characters in the cast, he does wear a lot of pink, and if he is, it would add some pretty funny layers to Jean asking him about girls.

54: How long has the ‘four person teams’ thing been going on?

55: Crow, Raven, Summer Tai-yang… Team Stark?

56: Yang, you’re her friend. She’s not TRYING to stop you.

57: If Weiss is asking Neptune to the dance “Tomorrow,” shouldn’t some time pass before the dance scene? This is basic editing, people.

58: Did Ozpin put any thought into this metaphor?

59: Why is Weiss spazzing out over a flower? If it’s bothering you, pick and and toss it!

60: Why is Penny even at the dance?

61: Where did Jean get that dress on such short notice?

62: I should ask how Team JNPR managed to put together that choreographed dance number, but it’s too wonderful to question.

63: I said I’d lay off on the animation, but why does Cinder have such a weird looking walk across those rooftops?

64: Did Emerald not notice Ruby leaving?

65: Why doesn’t Ruby take off her heels for this fight?

66: Why don’t I see any same-sex couples dancing?

67: Wouldn’t it be funnier if James was Qrow’s first name, instead of Ironwood’s? I mean, Jim Qrow… It would explain how pitifully few dark skinned characters there are… I’ll shut up now.

68: Did Ruby get all the way to her dorm in the span of the teachers’ continued conversation?

69: Jesus Christ, I know I already harked on the weird boob jiggling earlier, but how did Glinda backing up a step cause them to jump like they lost contact with gravity?

70: If Yang was already handing that tube to Ruby, why didn’t she just take it, instead of… Whatever the hell she just did?

71: How did a roll of brown dough just turn into a dog?

72: Did that dog just get mailed to beacon in a package? How the fuck did he fit, how the fuck did he survive, how the fuck did he not need to eat drink of defecate, and how the fuck was anybody high enough to write, proofread, approve and animate something so fucking stupid?

73: Weiss and Blake seem genuinely confused about this too, so my concerns are valid!

74: Was this mailing Zwei thing supposed to be funny? I know people who dropped the series because of this scene.

75: So wait, is THIS why so many people are named after colors? I don’t think that ever needed to be explained.

76: Why did Ruby bring her dog? Let me guess, to justify it’s existence in the story?

77: I mean, does he have a purpose in the story other than proving that the writers were incapable of keeping their otaku-boners in their pants, and they just HAD to make a Cowboy Bebop reference?

78: Who packed the rotisserie chicken?

79: Why is Glinda checking up on Ironwood? How did she even notice he was out?

80: Did none of them pack a change of clothes?

81: Since when did carrying one weapon each count as being ‘armed to the teeth?”

82: Is Ruby saying she wanted Zwei to piss where they were sleeping?

83: How the hell did the ground cave in under one light teenage girl?

84: Did Yang not see Ruby and the soldiers stalking around?

85: That hole looks like a semi could fall through it. how did the weight of one girl cave it in?

86: Did Oobleck just forget about the subway system until this very moment? It seems like an important detail to just overlook.

87: How does Romans cane contain that much rope, as well as the ability to fire bullets? It contains infinite space?

88: How’d they get on the train?

89: Wait, they’re on the roof? Didn’t one of them just attack a guard from inside the train?

90: Why are they expecting the Grimm to follow the train?

91: Bullshit! how did that dog know to do that for a man he’s never met before? And how did Oobleck know he’d survive it?

92: Why did Weiss volunteer to stay behind to fight a guy with a chainsaw? Couldn’t she just freeze it so it would stop working?

93: Wait, it looked like Chainsaw guy was about to cut Weiss’s head off… What happened? Did he just decide to change moves and kick her into the next room instead?

94: Is that Yang’s mother? If so, how did she know where to be?

95: Is Yang’s mom a member of the White Fang? Is she part Faunus?

96: Did Weiss just pull a Groot?

97: What does “That village” mean to Ren?

98: Why didn’t Jean’s sword do any visible damage to that Grimm?

99: How the fuck did Zweii just take out a Grimm?

100: Does spacial logic not exist in this school? A minigun can fit inside of what is, for all intents and purposes, a purse?

101: Why are Cinder’s cronies helping in the battle? Nobody would notice if they didn’t!

This will not be a formal review. It’s more of a brief, general thoughts type thing. It’ll still show up on my ‘browse reviews’ page under the non-anime heading, but I won’t be sticking to a formula, and I won’t be avoiding spoilers.

Also, before we begin, I’d like to thank all of you for your patronage on my Ebay page.  Ever since I put the link up a few weeks ago, I’ve made over 600 dollars back, plus 300 dollars in anonymous donations, and once I finalize another deal with an outside buyer, I’ll have broken 1100, paying off all the money I lost on my car.  I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish this without you guys, so thank you very, very much.  I’m going to leave my Ebay link in my Contact page, if you find yourself looking for it again.  And now, on with the review.

When it comes to talking about The Killing Joke, the place I should probably start is with the original source material. It was published in 1988 by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. Despite it’s short length, it dealt with content and subject matter that was a bit more graphic than anything DC was doing at the time, and has since been considered one of the most popular and influential comic books they’ve ever put out. As for me, personally? It’s not one of my favorites. It’s not my favorite Batman story… That would be Hush, for those who are curious… And it’s not my favorite Alan Moore comic, which would be Watchmen, because I’m so fucking original.

That’s not to say I hate The Killing Joke, or even that I even dislike it. I own a copy, and once in a while, it’s good for a quick read. I mean, seriously, you can burn through that thing in as little as five minutes. It’s generally celebrated for it’s two biggest contributions to the Batman lore… Joker’s possible tragic backstory and Barbara Gordon’s transition into Oracle. It’s also celebrated as one of the first comics to explore the yin and yang aspect of Joker and Batman’s relationship, as well as the futility of Batman always bringing him in alive so that more people can die down the line. The Joker is the cost of Batman’s mercy, and that’s become a very popular theme in the franchise over time. Hell, the joke Joker tells at the end perfectly encapsulates through an admittedly brilliant metaphor why The Joker can never be rehabilitated.

So why do I not love it? Well, I’d be hard pressed to rebuke any of the criticisms that feminists have made about Barbara Gordon’s role in the story. Even Alan Moore has expressed regret over how that scene was handled. There’s an old trope called “Women in refrigerators,” where a female character will be killed or maimed not through any fault of their own, but for the sake of developing a male character. Since Barbara Gordon is crippled to add gravity to a situation between Batman and the Joker, and she’s then sexually exploited for the sake of torturing her father, this comic stands as a perfect example of the aforementioned trope. In fact, I’ll take this one step farther and say that the real/fake/who knows? death of The Joker’s wife also kind of falls into the same category. I don’t think there was any real reason for her to die, I mean he would have gone on the mission and become the Joker either way.

Now, it is entirely possible for an adaptation to fix something you didn’t like in the source material. As much as I enjoyed the New 52 Suicide Squad, it kind of bothered me how the Task Force X members were disposable, and had no problem killing each other if they needed to, or simply wanted to. Yeah, it makes sense, seeing how they’re all evil psychopaths, but you know me, I’m a sucker for teamwork and the power of friendship in a story, especially if it’s being used to bring a villain around to the good side. Well, the theatrical Suicide Squad movie gave me exactly what I wanted, with the Task Force members bonding and becoming friends with each other over the course of the movie. Do you remember when Deadshot refused to kill Harley, and pretended to miss? Never would have happened in the comic. Hell, even Deadshot and Rick Flagg became all buddy-buddy towards the end. Yeah, I can understand that pissing off some purists, but it was fucking cheesecake for me.

Now, in my opinion, if one of the two major contributions that The Kiling Joke made was Barbara Gordon losing the use of her legs, then she should feature more prominently in the story. After all, if the stakes are going to be high for her, then she should at least be a major player. Even if we depart from the ideals of sexism and the knee-jerk reaction that most insecure douchebags have to such ideals, that’s just basic character writing. I mean, granted, her crippling actually indirectly led to the revival of DC’s interest in her as a character, leading to her appearance in the cartoon as well as her own small collection of comic lines and the eventual New 52 revival, but it’s still a regrettable stain on comic history. The newly released movie actually made a move to address this, giving the story a brand new first half that features Barbara Gordon as not only a main character, but as the primary character. So, did this alteration do a satisfactory job in rectifying my biggest problem with the original comic? Oh good god, no. In fact, I’m pretty sure they just made things worse.

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room… The Batgirl in this movie is not the Batgirl that we all know and love. We all know Barbara Gordon as a young woman with a strong sense of justice and an untapped reservoir of martial arts and acrobatic skills who chose to become a hero to make the job of protecting Gotham easier for her father, as well as general thrill seeking. While she initially clashed with Batman over her right to act, they eventually formed a sort of tense, unofficial alliance and wound up working together often. Depending on which canon you follow, she may or may not have been in a relationship with Dick Grayson. She was a great hero, almost on par with Batman, although she was eventually retired due to a lack of interest.

Now, in the new movie, and I can’t stress enough how important this is, they rewrite her as someone who took up the cape and cowl because she was looking to capture Batman’s affections. That’s not all, she’s also bafflingly incompetent, getting outmatched in combat by a petty thug, punched off the side of a moving van, and led into a trap as easily as Scooby Doo spotting a table of food. She has rooftop sex with Batman, complicating their relationship, and while it may have been serious visually, I can’t stop laughing as I describe this in words… She retires because she almost kills a guy for flirting with her. Yeah, flirting might be putting it lightly, but she beat the shit out of him so soundly and viciously that… He looked perfectly healed up and conscious on the news, what has to have been less than ten minutes later.

Yeah, kind of a continuity error, but my point is, punching a psychopath to within an inch of his life for what could barely be considered sexual harassment was enough to show her the edge of the abyss. The same edge that Batman and the Joker talk about later. And did I mention that Batman is an insensitive emo asshole? Well, he is, as he’s constantly berating Batgirl about her gender after three years of working together. He belittles her abilities and condescends her while accusing the villain of objectifying her(potato potahto in my book), barely tries when they fight, and then offers no hint of resistance when she pins him and then starts taking off her clothes. Yeah, they fuck, and while he does embrace her when she kisses him, he shows no hint of interest afterwards, just back to square one, back to business with no hint of a change to their dynamic other than Barbara confiding in her stereotypically gay best friend that Bats is “avoiding her.”

She quits, retires to her apartment, and Batman gets called to examine the discovery of a years old Joker crime, which doesn’t even wind up being the reason he visits good old clown-face. This brings us to the comic book content, and what may actually be my biggest problem with this movie… An even bigger problem than Barb’s character assassination, if you can believe it. The first half is terrible, and has nothing to do with the second and third acts. The one thing in it that links it to the following acts is the Joker discovery, but like I said, that’s not even the REASON Batman visits him. “I mean, yeah, he did something really fucked up, but I want to ask him about our relationship, so we’ll forget about it.” Barbara Gordon’s narration is swapped out for the Joker backstory plot device, and no, this story ain’t big enough for the two of them. Not even the themes match, as it’s attempt to have Batgirl experience her version of the “Edge of the abyss” is laughable and falls completely flat. It feels like filler, which is appropriate, because it is filler.

Anyway, how about the rest of the movie? How well does it hold up? The artwork and animation is decent, but it actually manages to pale in comparison to the art direction of the comic. The movie is R rated, and tries desperately to justify it with intense violence and BARELY PG-13 language, and yet the efforts the director made to cover up Jim Gordon’s naked ass was nothing short of hilarious. Yeah, this is one of the rare examples of DC nudity, which is no doubt attributable to Alan Moore, but you can’t have that in a DC movie… Even an R Rated one. Christ, the PG-13 rated Assault on Arkham was more graphic than this. The writing is mostly taken line for line from the comic… By mostly, I mean they fucked up the ending of Joker’s speech to Batman… And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the main two voice actors sound like they phoned in their performances. You’d think you couldn’t go wrong with a cast headed by Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, but Conroy sounds like he’s barely putting in the effort, and Hamill… He just sounds bored with the material.

I know what you’re thinking… how DARE I criticize a Mark Hamill Joker performance? Well, funny you should ask, I actually have an example to compare it to. In the folowing video, a fan-made impersonation does a better Mark Hamill Joker than the one appearing in this movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa0R_2K9iec&fmt=18 This is, once again, a FAN MADE impersonation, imbuing the speech with humanity, as well as tragedy associated with The Joker’s backstory. Tara Strong puts forth a commendable amount of effort, but like I said, she’s only present in the first act. Oh, and speaking of Tara Strong, don’t defend the movie by saying that she approved of it. She’s an actor. It’s rare for actors to talk shit about work that people give them. The fact that she’s a fan of The Little Mermaid Two and Teen Titans Go should be enough to immediately disqualify her from having a valid opinion on the quality of the projects she gets cast in, especially when we’re talking about a character rewrite that’s like the Hero version of Sempai Please Notice Me. I’m sorry I had to quote that.

So, is The Killing Joke impossible to adapt? Well, no, but when you’re adapting a story that’s almost thirty years old, dated, and heavily problematic, you have to update it. You have to change it to fit with the times. It’s not like DC’s not willing to change things in an adaptation, I mean, look at BOTH adaptations of Teen Titans. So why does Killing Joke get the by-the-book treatment? You’ve already taken two characters out of Kansas, why not just go all the way to Oz?

I say that, but what would I change? Well, first of all, I’d get rid of the romantic sub-plot, and focus on Batgirl establishing her worth to Batman, maybe as a mentor figure. They do NOT have sex, because that’s fucking creepy. Yeah, I know she’s an adult woman in the eyes of the law, but there’s a reason she’s called Batgirl and not Batwoman… There’s at least one or two generations between her and Batman, and his love interests are supposed to be closer to his age and level of experience, like Catwoman and Talia. Batgirl wants love? Batgirl gets Robin/Nightwing, who makes more sense when paired with her. I’m not going to say pairing Batgirl with Batman is impossible, after all Batman Beyond did it, but there’s a way to pull it off and a way to fuck it up.

She doesn’t retire after beating up Paris Franz, she decides to go solo, as I was yelling at her to do so many times throughout the first half. Keep the corpse discovery, and actually have Batman go into Joker’s cell to question him about it, but have the conversation naturally progress towards a question of their relationship when Joker refuses to answer about the corpses. Everything is the same until Joker knocks on Barbara’s door, and here’s where we change the source material. Moments before the gun can go off, Barb remembers she’s supposed to be a badass, so she knocks his hand to the side with a well-placed strike, leaving him to shoot into the wall. She then attacks him, and the two do battle in the apartment while Joker’s goons overpower and abduct Commish. Barb’s unable to end the fight and go after him, but once he’s gone, Joker ends the fight by releasing some Joker venom, which forces Barb to escape through a window while he makes his exit.

She then works WITH Batman in the investigation, proving just how capable she is at getting information and outsmarting people. They attack the carnival, fight off the carnies that weren’t present in the comic(I’ll be honest, they were a nice addition to the film) and Batgirl stays with her father while Batman goes after the Joker. His speech doesn’t get altered, neither does their fight, and Batgirl rejoins Batman when he’s already taken out Joker outside. They listen to his joke, as Batgirl does her best to keep her composure, but she jumps into action when Batman tries to strangle his foe. Seeing how hard it is even for someone like Bruce to resist the abyss sometimes, she waits until the cops cuff Joker to tell Batman that she’s retiring. She can be far more useful to him using her intellect from the sidelines than her abilities on the field, and she doesn’t want to go down the same path he’s become lost on.

Yeah, you read that right, I just transitioned Batgirl into Oracle without crippling her. Somebody warn Superman, because I must be a fucking magician.

So in conclusion, this movie sucks. As far as number ratings go, I give it a 3/10. There are a few shining moments, such as the added action, the extra scene during the credits, and Tara Strong’s voice work, but over-all, it just feels off. The story doesn’t fit together, the animation and art design is a far cry from the visceral imagery of the comic, and to be perfectly honest, it was never that great a comic to begin with. I can’t recommend it, but I can definitely recommend Suicide Squad, which was awesome. Some other DC animated movies I liked were Assault on Arkham, Teen Titans vs. The Justice League, Mask of the Phantasm, and Wonder Woman. That’sall I really have to say, so…

On a final note, are you sick of youtube’s bullshit? I just got invited to join LBRY, a new alternative video sharing site, and now through this post, I’m inviting you! Just go to https://lbry.io/get?r=uWr74 and get yourself added to the wait list!

A spark of consciousness ignites, and as you open your eyes, the darkness fades, revealing a blurry, out of focus face. As your eyes adjust to the light, you can see concern giving way to relief in the expression of… Who? Who is this person standing over you, and why is she wearing such a funny costume? She calls out to another person in the room, stating “She’s awake,” and you take a second to wonder where you are. This isn’t the first time your mind had to catch up with you when you woke up somewhere unusual… Or is it? It certainly feels like you’ve been through this before, but have you? And has it ever taken this long to fully regain consciousness?

You start to think about getting up and going home, only to realize with a sudden shock that you can’t remember where you live. Do you live alone in an apartment? Do you still live with your parents? Who ARE your parents? And for that matter, who are you? Just as you’re noticing that you’re wearing the same funny costume as the girl who woke you up, you hear male voices in the room, and two very attractive guys… One blonde, one brunette… Show up, and begin to fawn over you. One of them acts a little coldly, as though he’s trying to keep his emotions in check. The other starts to worry about you openly, almost as if he’s been in this position many times before. What is your relationship with these strange boys? Why are they dressed like strippers from Wonderland? One thing is certain… You can’t let them know you’ve lost your memories. Because banana.

Amnesia was produced by a company called Brain’s Base. I had not hear of this company until today, and if my Facebook poll results are any kind of evidence, you probably haven’t either. That’s a real shame, because they’re actually kind of amazing. They’ve put out a lot of highly visually impressive shows, such as Baccano, Penguindrum, and Durarara!! One of my favorite ways a company can achieve visual splendor is by carefully and skillfully allocating their budget so that not a single cent is wasted or wanted for. Amnesia is actually a perfect microcosm of their work, insofar as the fact that it has a lot of money to spend on big-budget special effects, intricately detailed and deliberately lit backgrounds, and an attention to detail that carries over to an outstanding sense of quality control.

The human characters don’t move much, but the movements they make are just fluid enough so that no viewer should ever have to complain about them looking cheap. It also helps that the series had a really smart sense of visual direction behind it, and unlike a lot of shows, the 2D and 3D animation complement each other perfectly. One thing people may complain about is something Brain’s Base had no real control over… The character designs. While the art style and the anatomical qualities of the human characters may be pleasing to the eye, this series completely jumps the shark in three areas… Hair, clothes, and eyes. I alluded in the plot synopses that each male character in our heroine’s harem is designed with a different suit from a deck of cards in mind. There’s a hearts boy, a diamonds boy, a clubs boy, a spades boy, and even a Joker boy. Oh and there’s also a boy only she can see, who looks like the Homestuck version of Peter Pan, if you can believe it.

If there’s one good thing I can say about these character designs, it’s that if you cosplayed one of them, you wouldn’t be confused for any other show… unless somebody really thought that Wonderland had a Chip’n’Dales club. Each boy is adorned with the symbol of their respective suit, as well as different styles of leather jackets, including a hooded variety, a turtleneck variety, a too-small variety, and a duster variety. Of course, because reverse harems do occasionally follow the rules a of regular harems, they’re also color-coded, mainly through the artificial coloring in their male scene hair. They also never change clothes unless they’re at work, meaning that they wear these weird get-ups in public, day after day, without fail. Yes, this is common in some anime, but not in slice-of-life anime, damn it!

The music is nice at first, but it can become wearisome really quickly. It’s mostly piano, and as pretty as it might be at a glance, it becomes repetitive, much like your typical visual novel soundtrack… tunes are meant to be played for long periods of time in the background while the player reads through dialogue and occasionally makes a choice, and that style sadly doesn’t translate well to animation. The opening, on the other hand, is outstanding. The song is called Zoetrope, and it’s a ice listen regardless of whether you’re watching the video or not, but combined with the on-pace video does a much better job of making the main character and the main plot of the show interesting than ANYTHING in the actual story does. It goes through the tired cliche of showcasing all of the Harem character profiles, but it does so really quickly, instead spending the majority of it’s time showing the heroine lost and confused in a dark abyss full of phantom playing cards.

The English dub was done by Sentai filmworks, and I really want to try to be nice about this, because the cast was obviously trying their hardest with the material given to them. It’s hard to like any of them, not because they performed badly, but because there wasn’t really any room in the show to perform well. Add to that a cast who’s biggest name is Christopher Ayres, and you have to wonder just how many of their biggest names must have looked at the script and refused outright to have anything to do with it(And if this IS the case, God bless Emily Neves and Jay Hickman for having the decency to at least take bit parts). I’m not sure why they bothered dubbing this anime in the first place, since there’s really nothing any American actor could add to the experience.

Maggie Flecknoe is our main character, presumably because she’s the only actor they had who’s bland and easy enough to overlook that they knew a nameless character with no agency or personality wouldn’t make her look any worse. Not surprisingly, she also played the hapless female lead in Diabolik Lovers(She’s also further proof that Log Horizon could get a good performance out of literally anyone). Her role never demanded any big emotional commitment from her, and like a true paycheck-desiring trooper, she didn’t bother trying to give it one. Houston Hayes and Chris Ayres actually got to put some emotion into their roles, even if that emotion began and ended with “I’m pissed off at you.” Shannon Emmerick didn’t do a bad job with the cutesie Ryuksie character Orion, but then again, playing young male voices is kind of her only viable career option, so let me ask once again; “How many A-list VAs turned this series down?”

Considering Sentai has to be picky with which shows they dub and which ones they don’t, and considering how they’re able to take one look at a piece of shit like Detroit Metal City and say “ehhhh, maybe not this one,” I’m honestly surprised they put forth the money to put this series out in English… On Blu-Ray, no less! I mean, I’m sorry, but this is one of those rare occasions when the type of story being told, and the kind of character tropes being portrayed, there really isn’t any real American equivalent to the material. They probably should have released this one in Japanese only, and yeah, that’s also how you should probably view it. One Luci Christian role… Just one… Could have justified it enough for a recommendation.

I’d like to begin the meaty portion of this review by running down the wonderful cast of characters that are featured in this gem. Let’s start with the main character, named… She actually doesn’t have a name. When she wakes up with amnesia, she never asks anybody for any details about her life, which means that through the entire anime, we never learn her name, her family status, or even how old she is, which would be unforgivably creepy if a quick look at wikipedia didn’t list her as an 18 year old college freshman. She’s listed in the credits as ‘heroine,’which is a laugh, because ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ are titles you’d give to characters who are active, show positive qualities, and have some sort of agency in their lives, whereas Heroine-san seems to be the personification of the term “Just go with the flow.”

Much like Mayuri from Steins;Gate, the world is trying to kill her, but unlike Mayuri, there’s actually an in-universe explanation for it(which I won’t spoil). She dies in each world she’s in, mainly due to the fact that she likes to run out into the street without looking first, although the fact that she can’t swim may also play a factor. Of course there are other possibilities, like Orion’s suggestion that if she doesn’t stay close to people at all times, she may forget how to breathe. A suggestion she takes seriously. Yes, a college student doesn’t know that breathing is an involuntary action that even babies do. Orion also convinces her that it would be a bad idea to tell the people in her life that she has amnesia, because like I said earlier, Banana. The only conscious decision she EVER makes is picking a lock to get out of a cage, and the only reason she does that is so she can get back to her apartment and find proof that she loves someone in order to stop them from raping her. Because that’s how rape works? She has literally no standards for dating other than “must be hot bishie,’ and to prove it, let’s see just how charming her princes are. And trust me, each one is worse than the last.

Her boyfriend in the first timeline is Shin, represented by the Heart suite. That’s actually kind of appropriate, because while none of these guys are ‘best choice’ material, I’d consider him the ‘least awful choice.’ He’s a year younger than the heroine, and he has a chip on his shoulder from society shaming him for the accidental sins of his father. He cares about her, and his main issue is with jealousy… Not a good trait to have, but a believably human one, and one that I actually would have liked to see fully worked through. Unfortunately, Heroine-san falls off a cliff and jumps to a new timeline, where she’s dating Ikki, a much more boring character who’s life has been tortured by what I’m going to call the PG rated version of Dane Cook’s curse from Good Luck Chuck. He wants her because she’s immune to his charm, and the girls who ARE obsessed with him provide a constant source of antagonism for her throughout the course of the series.

Next up, very briefly, is Kent, and if there’s an offensive stereotype for asexuality out there, he’s it. I know lots of women fall for the stoic guy with glasses… Kyoya from Ouran, I feel your pain… But they tend to have actual personality traits, like pride, or condescension, or something. Kent doesn’t have even the most basic of emotions, and every single coupley move he makes on Heroine-san can be drawn back to advice he got online or in a book. I actually AM asexual, and no, we’re not like that. We have human emotions. We understand basic human interactions. Kent is not a realistic person, which makes it extremely hard to not only relate to him, but to figure out what Heroine-san saw in him as a potential lover in the first place.

Then we have Toma, one of the most disturbingly popular reverse harem options ever. Do you remember how in the wake of Chris Brown beating up Rihanna, there were flurries of women online claiming it was okay, he could beat them too if he wanted to? That’s Toma’s fanbase in a nutshell, so let me just run down what this hopeless romantic did. There are going to be minor spoilers here. He realizes Heroine lost all her memories, so he lies to her and says they’re dating. This is already horrible, but we’re not done. He drugs her without telling her, which she has no reaction to, even when Orion warns her about it. He then sticks her in a dog kennel… Yes, it’s a cage, but it’s also a dog kennel… and claims he’s trying to protect her. Her only reaction to this is “This isn’t you… you’re not like this…” Uh, yeah, sure, keep telling yourself that. And then, like I said, she breaks out and finds the diary on her previous self in this timeline, and it coincidentily says she loves him, which prevents him at the last second from raping her.

They make googly eyes at each other, and then in the very next shot, she’s in the hospital with a broken leg, with no explanation offered as to how it happened, and even though I know she has a knack for getting run over, I’m going to assume he broke it to keep her from running away again. Yeah, remember that romantic scene with the sledgehammer in Misery? Something like that. And then we meet the final boy, Ukyo, who’s a literal murderous psychopath with a Jekyl and Hyde style split personality, and… Can we just stop now, and admit that all of these characters are awful? Can we just all agree that this is the most unlikeable cast of main characters since The Devil’s Rejects? Like I said, Shin had potential, but honestly, he wouldn’t look nearly as appealing if he didn’t have the rest of them to compare himself to. Nothing they do registers with Heroine, nothing ever alarms her, nothing ever convinces her to avoid or refute them, and Orion isn’t any better as he just spends the series dumping exposition and giving her terrible advice.

Okay, so if the characters are terrible, how’s the plot? There is no fucking plot. Nothing that happens means anything in the grand scheme of things. As a matter of fact, you could easily skip the first four story arcs and go right to the fifth without losing anything important. The point of this series wasn’t to slowly unravel an intriguing mystery, or gradually learn more about our main character through several shocking plot twists, it was to fit every single story path from the original game comfortably into the series so fans of each one could get their jollies off at some point. It’s like the story structure of Clannad, except in that show, every arc had some sort of central purpose going forward. The only point each arc in this anime has is to make the love interest of the previous arc look more appealing by comparison.

Or maybe the point is to make them more appalling? I don’t know. I don’t understand the appeal of dangerous or possessive lovers. Yeah, Yuno from Future Diary is hot, but I still wouldn’t touch her with a sixty foot pole. Maybe I just don’t understand the whole masochism thing, or maybe I just don’t get the appeal of being controlled, because apparently these characters are considered legitimate sex symbols on Japan. Even the subject of caging, which the Japanese voice actor himself apparently found weird, can still cause half a room full of women to go crazy for him. I guess I can give a pass to this show when it comes to fans who know that what they’re watching is an unhealthy escapist fantasy that would be unsalvageably horrifying in any sort of real world context, but because I don’t like to over-estimate people that I don’t know, I’m going to have to assume there are impressionable young viewers out there… both male and female… who may catch a bad message about abusive relationships, and I can’t forgive that.

Amnesia is available from Sentai Filmworks on both DVD and Blu-ray. It was originally really expensive, but can normally be found for low prices at certain Rightstuf sales. There are about six different entries in it’s visual novel franchise, and while I don’t feel like listing them all down, a few of them are available as imports to Playstation Vita. The series can also be viewed on Crunchyroll.

Amnesia is the perfect example of a show that just gets worse and worse as it continues on. I originally didn’t think too poorly of it, as I’d been pre-warned about some of it’s early flaws, and the way it played to popular dating sim character tropes, so I was at least expecting to enjoy it on a so-bad-it’s-good basis. What I actually got was a series that was so devoid of energy and passion that I found myself dozing off through most of the episodes. And yet, as boring as it was, it’s a surprisingly dangerous series, in the same ballpark as Popotan, albeit with a different message and much more commendable animation. Amnesia could easily teach young girls that toxic behavior is forgivable in a man as long as he truly loves you, especially since the main character is specifically designed to be a lego brick, and thus have no name or personality so that any viewer can imagine themselves in the role. I even found out very recently that fans of the original game hate it, and that’s saying something. I give Amnesia a 1/10.

What does it take to be a hero? It’s an age old question that’s been asked just about as many times as it’s been answered, by many different people and from many different perspectives. To some, being a hero means putting the needs of others before the needs of ones self, which can range all the way from the literal sacrifice of one’s life to the offering of ones’ time to help the less fortunate. To some, being a hero means standing up for what’s right and taking whatever measures are necessary to correct injustice. To a certain man of a rather ironclad constitution, being a hero is a series of four or five moments where you’re offered the opportunity to do something right, especially when doing so is difficult. To those who call themselves heroes, it’s considered a passion… A calling to altruism, an irrefutable compulsion to put the talents or abilities God gave you to good use for the betterment of humanity.

To Saitama, a lesser known hero living on his own in a tiny studio apartment, being a hero is a job… One that lost it’s luster over time, and one that’s become boring and repetitive as he’s outgrown whatever challenge it might have originally presented him. He’s not getting paid for his heroism… I’m honestly not sure where he’s getting the money to live off of… He does it as a hobby. See, when he was a few years younger, he was inspired to take relentless efforts to become the strongest hero of all time, and it paid off, but to his detriment. Gone are the days when he could find excitement and purpose in fighting the forces of evil, and in their place are the days when no villain, big or small, can survive the force of a single punch from this blase bald brawler. When his exploits gain him the attention of an altruistic cyborg named Genos, who draws him into the official hero registration, will things finally start looking up for Saitama, or will he never find an enemy challenging enough to make him feel alive again?

Studio Madhouse is known primarily for sticking to characters with more or less realistic proportions, with diversifying exaggerations that swing more toward caricatures then what you’d normally consider an anime aesthetic. That’s not to say that they’ve NEVER put out shows full of color-coded girlies and moe tropes… They are, like any other production company, a slave to the mangaka on any given project… But the trend is still very noticeable, as most of their work is more lifelike than cartoony. One Punch Man, on the other hand, is a jaw-dropping marriage of both aesthetics. It’s no coincidence that Saitama looks more like a real, average person before his transformation and a balloon with overly simplified facial expressions afterwords… the separation between realism and surrealism is used very specifically to mark show’s use of both tones, as the story tends to skew between one part slice of life comedy and one part supernatural waking dream. The juxtaposition can be jarring, because it’s absolutely intended to be.

You may notice, in conjunction with this visual choice, that characters become more and more exaggerated and strange depending on just how deep they are in that separation. A simple citizen may look completely unremarkable… In fact, with the sole important exception of a young Peter Griffin looking boy who helped Saitama become a hero in the first place, they all look unremarkable. As you rise in the ranks of the superhero registry, you may notice a few characters who look like Yugioh cosplayers(Shout-out to anyone who spots the Meiko Tsunami clone), as well as ordinary people in day clothes. Rising further in the ranks, you’ll notice VERY anime-like designs, particularly with regard to the most powerful hero we meet being a little green-haired loli. But what’s especially interesting is the design of each and every villain you meet through the series. They don’t last long, for obvious reasons, but they pretty much all leave an impression on the viewer through their memorable designs and backstories. There is not one character in the show that feels uninspired in the least.

And speaking of inspiration, what can I say about the animation itself without losing my sense of eloquence? Screw the eloquence. The animation in this show is like waking up on a dreary morning to find a bright shiny gift-basket on your table, and inside of it is nothing short of pure effort. I’ve praised shows in the past for having smooth, flowing animation quality with occasional corners cut for the sake of conserving the budget, but with One Punch Man, those corners are apparently non-existent. The animation is fast and balls-to-the-wall during action scenes, as it should be, but it never stops, even when it appears to be slowing down to portray more menial actions. There are moments involving frozen key frames, but they don’t feel like budget cuts… They’re used primarily for comic effect, with the original web comic aesthetic being used as a sight gag, or they’re otherwise used for the sake of mood, with extensive and beautifully drawn shots of destruction, environmental grit and the occasional corpse. Superhero battles are fast and intense, the gore and destruction at the end of said battles is graphic and exquisitely detailed, and speaking of detailed, every inch of background must have taken the blood, sweat and tears of the show’s art crew. Nothing less than maximum effort all around, to the point where I can’t even tell if it had a low or high budget.

Arguably the best thing about this anime… And that is in no way an attempt to take down the rest of the anime, it’s just a matter of comparison… is the opening, which has to be the most exciting and adrenaline pumping opening that I’ve seen since Attack on Titan. The main lyrical content almost seems like it’s song by a full on greek choir, singing about the main character and his exploits, albeit with the passion and force that he likely had when he was just starting out and aiming to be the strongest. This takes place over a rock and roll beat that features outstanding electric guitar work and a percussion you can easily bang your head to without even realizing it. The OST itself is a perfect marriage of rock and roll with the more traditional orchestrations that you’d hear with each epic turn of an anime action series, and this is especially evident in the show’s frequently used main theme. Even so, there’s still room for diversity, as it’s perfectly able to slip into an electronic theme when the Cyborg Genos is the focus. Surprisingly, the ending theme follows absolutely none of this, turning in a more traditional female pop start tune that begins and ends with shots of Saitama’s apartment, as if to remind us that in the end, this is all just a job for him, and he does have to turn in afterwards.

The English dub is still in it’s infancy at the time of this writing, and so far, it’s kind of hit or miss. In all fairness, I haven’t seen very much of it… Nobody really has… but from what I’ve seen so far, there are some positives and negatives to point out. To start with the positives, Saitama’s dub voice is pretty damn good. It’s obviously not going to touch the Japanese performance, but I would go out on a limb and say that it’s about as good as an American interpretation could reasonably be. Max Mittelman is a relative newcomer, and he’s gotta be doing something right, because out of the few roles he’s played, Doraemon is the only show that doesn’t have him listed as a major character. He was beyond outstanding in Your Lie in April, the only performance of his that I’ve seen before now, and with Saitama, he brings forth a lack of enthusiasm so deep and cutting that pretty much every time he emotes, you can tell he’s faking interest in whatever’s going on.

Another positive would be the enemies we’ve seen so far, with several Bang Zoom outsiders showing up for cameos and pouring the darkest parts of their souls into playing some of the most deliciously evil villains they’ve ever had the chance to touch on. I’m not sure how Viz Media got Chris Cason and Chris Sabat to sign up for this show, but I’m glad they did, because their rough, chain-smoker voices sound like they were tailor made to play maniacal supervillains like a human embodiment of pollution and a giant enemy crab. A slightly more familiar voice can be heard in Cristina Vee, who plays the villain Mosquito Girl in episode two, an insectoid matriarch who’s thirst for blood gives her voice an almost subversively seductive edge, and Vee fits so well into the role that I almost thought she was Michelle Ruff the first time I heard her. As for the negatives, we have Zach Aguilar as Genos, and he’s pretty disappointing. Yeah, the Japanese voice had a flat and robotic tone to it, but it still held more personality than Zach’s performance does, and personality makes all the difference with characters like these. He sounds almost like me, and I have Asperger’s syndrome, so that should tell you a lot. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the dub over the sub, but then again it’s really too early to judge the over-all product, so let’s move on for now.

It should be no secret to anybody at this point that One Punch Man began as a web comic by an artist named ONE, and that it was drawn quite a bit more crudely than your average online comic. now, obviously there’s no rule stating that crudely drawn web comics can’t be awesome… Little Monster Girl is a prime example of this… But the original One Punch Man was so simple in both concept and design that you’d be forgiven for wondering why it took off as well as it did. In fact, a close look at Saitama says a lot about the shortcuts that went into it… He was probably bald so the artist wouldn’t have to draw hair as often, his suit was plain and generic so he wouldn’t have to do too much design work, etc. Even the monsters and other heroes looked more like Hellsing sight gags than proper manga characters. The concept was the kind of thing a grade school kid could come up with… I mean, it’s a superhero who destroys everything with One Punch. Before a person grows enough to develop basic story-telling insights, that’s about as complex as a narrative can get away with being. So why did it explode the way it did? Why did it get picked up for a proper manga and crowned the unanimous best anime of 2016 in less than 6 years?

Well, to start, let’s examine the seemingly simplistic concept. At first glance, it’s extremely difficult for a viewer with any grasp of literary standards to get behind a hero who faces no real challenge or apparent threat. The term Mary Sue gets thrown around if a character is too OP, with a prime example being Kirito from Sword Art Online. He is the quintessential Mary Sue; He’s stronger than anyone else he meets on a fair basis, everyone has a high opinion of him, and all the ladies throw their virtual panties at him. This has drawn a serious backlash against his show, which begs the question; Is it possible to write an invincible character that people can relate to and get behind? Does a hero have to have challenges to be compelling? Can you truly stay interested if you always know what the result of every conflict is going to be? Speaking as someone who doesn’t watch alien invasion movies anymore because the humans always win, I can say with some certainty that this is an incredibly difficult thing to pull off, so let’s look at two financially successful cases that almost pulled it off.

Depending on the kind of things you’re into, there are two characters you’ve probably compared Saitama to… Superman, the OG superhero who eats Goku sandwiches for lunch and Batman burgers for Dinner, and John Cena, the professional wrestling golden boy who’s foiled more pushes than the guard rail at the edge of a subway platform. They’ve both proven their staying power, even though they’ve each been the target of criticism about how bland and uninteresting they are. Personally, I’m not a fan of either, but I do understand their appeal. Superman, as it’’s been very expertly explained by the Death Battle people, is interesting because even though there’s no suspense in regard to whether or not he’s winning a fight, there’s still intrigue as to whether or not he’s doing the right thing, which is something we’ve all faced at one time or another. John Cena, another boy scout in his own right, is reviled for burying the careers of countless promising wrestlers just by beating them and bringing their relevance into question, but I just can’t hate a loyal company-minded performer who has a passion for his sport and, according to rumors, will stand in the rain for hours to sign autographs. I don’t personally like either character… I don’t love anything Superman’s name has been on, and I’ve never gotten excited during a Cena match unless I was rooting for his opponent… But I get the appeal.

However, Saitama is more of an enigma because isn’t really bothered by whether what he’s doing is right or wrong, nor is he some passionate role model. He doesn’t possess the qualities that make those two characters almost interesting, so what does he have that makes him so compelling? The short answer is his outlook. Saitama cannot lose… He can’t kill anything with less than a punch, and while most heroes would be accepting of this accomplishment, Saitama is bored by it. He is constantly disappointed by every single powerful looking enemy he comes across, and how no matter what they boast, no matter how many people they’ve killed, no matter how many heroes they defeated before he showed up, he can instantly one-shot them. Considering how hard he worked to become a hero, and how doing so saved his life from the doldrums and uncertainty of being an unemployed salaryman, he should be happy about this, but he’s not. What should have been a dream job for him has become the kind of job that most dream jobs eventually turn into… A boring, mindless slog through the same old routine with the same old results to show for it. This is appealing to most grown-ups who’ve had to leave their dreams behind and settle for something more practical, but it’s also insidiously relatable to anyone who’s ever found themselves bored by a John Cena program or a Superman video game; You hate seeing interesting villains dispatched without any real fanfare, and so does Saitama, the person doing it. For the first time with this kind of story, you want what he wants; A challenge.

But even the best of character studies need the support of a good story, and true to form, One Punch Man has no shortage of enjoyable plot lines and story progression. In only the second episode, Saitama meets Genos, a heroic cyborg whom he just barely saves from literal self-destruction. In most hero stories, Genos would be our main character… He’s idealistic, self-sacrificing, dutiful, and dealing with a mysterious tragedy in his past, and he proclaims himself Saitama’s disciple so that he can become stronger under his new mentor’s tutelage. Having him so close to the central plot adds a richness of depth that, were Saitama alone, would have been sparse. We still go through the formula of Saitama wasting villains left and right, but now we get to see him meeting and battling them under constantly fresh and innovative circumstances. He also drags Saitama into the Hero Registration, which is kind of like a Superhero Tryouts sort of thing, that grades passing hero hopefuls with a grade and rank based on their physical attributes and test scores… And while this is a bit of a spoiler, Saitama bombs the test portion, leading him to be ranked class C, despite his own disciple ranking in the highest echelon of S class.

Now there’s a lot that happens from there that I can’t really get into, you sort of have to experience it all for yourself, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that Saitama’s story never gets boring, nor does it ever seem to drag on. Everything builds, everything intensifies, and for someone who’s life is tragically devoid of challenging enemies, Saitama deals with challenge after challenge in terms of his responsibilities, his public reception, and the idea of what his place in the rankings means for the reputation of the Hero’s Association, as well as a climax that beautifully showcases the duality of his biggest conflict by showing us how the struggle for a worthwhile and satisfying challenge can affect a being of much less pure moral fiber. The series is unfortunately unfinished, and while that does leave a lot of questions unanswered, an issue that can only be resolved with the inclusion of a second season that has yet to be announced, I’d be hard pressed to say it was my only problem with the series. There are tons of interesting character designs that make up the S class heroes, but you never see more than half of them outside of a meeting room, which doesn’t do any of them justice.

Also, this is yet another series that portrays gay men as over-the-top drag queens with predatory tendencies towards straight men, and that’s been REALLY getting on my nerves lately. Tiger and Bunny did something similar with Fire Emblem, and while I guess that guy had at least SOME semblance of awesomeness to his identity to make up for it… Like, he was the only hero rich enough to afford his own sponsor company, and that ain’t nothing… But seriously, Puri Puri Prisoner is introduced after he breaks out of prison, where he was serving time for literally sexually assaulting people. I know the anime medium IN GENERAL isn’t kind to LGBT folk, but that doesn’t make the resulting material any less painful. This is unfortunately a negative side effect of the show’s absurdist comedy style, which is otherwise impressively fresh and inventive. Also, there are a handful of recurring side characters that, without having anything to do with the climax, feel kind of wasted in the end, like Saitama’s ninja rival and a much beloved bicycling superhero. As I said before, a second season could fix all of this… Minus all the homophobia bullshit… Until one actually comes out, I can’t really call this show the masterpiece everyone says it is, but that’s not gonna stop me from watching it again a few more times.

One Punch Man is available from Viz Media, although a stateside physical release has not been announced as of yet. It can be viewed legally at Daisuki.net and on it’s own website, Onepunchman.me, as well as on Hulu. The English dub is currently airing on Cartoon Network’s late night Adult Swim programming block, a brilliant acquisition on their part. Physical media will likely be released after the dub finishes airing, so there’ll likely be no news until then. The original web comic is still ongoing, although it’s a little difficult to find translated versions online. The follow-up manga is also ongoing, and actually is available stateside from Shonen Jump Manga, with the first seven volumes currently available and with more forthcoming.

One Punch Man is, quite frankly, a miracle. It’s one of those anime that shouldn’t, by all logic, exist, but it somehow does because all the planets just happened to be aligned at the right time. The fact that it’s the adaptation of an adaptation is already highly unorthodox, but the fact that it’s turned out to be a series so multi-layered that critics with their brains turned on and casual viewers with their brains turned off can enjoy it on virtually equal footing is what’s so miraculous about it. I’ve heard some people complain that it has an uneven tone, because it takes itself too seriously to be a parody yet still feels too goofy to be a satire, but I honestly just see it as a strongly written show that’s able to stand on it’s own while examining it’s characters and themes from differing levels of sincerity, possessing the confidence to poke fun at itself without losing steam or breaking pace. A second season will probably be enough to elevate it to the status that it deserves, but until then, I give One Punch Man an 8/10.  

Hey guys, I’ve decided to do something different this week, by doing my second pic-drop post.  Last time, I put out a post full of pictures from Epcot Japan, and this week, I’ve decided to peruse my Iphoto files and show you all a collection of the cosplay photos I’ve taken at my local anime convention, Tora-con!  These pictures span from 2012 to 2015, as I decided to skip 2016 for…  Reasons.

But first, I’m going to have to ask for a moment of your time, where I’m going to do something I never thought I’d have to do in the three years I’ve been running this blog.  See, I don’t make any money off of this blog, I have a full-time job, and I’ve done my best to stay in a comfortable situation.  I’ve never expected anything out of this blog other than creative fulfillment, although a surprising number of very generous readers have given endless support through likes and comments.  The support that I’ve gotten, as well as a rapidly increasing monthly view-count, are all I thought I’d ever ask for…  Until I took my car into the shop last week.

In order to pass my inspection, I had to fork over just over 1000 dollars.  Follow that up with a set of badly timed bills, and I wound up hitting a low point where I only had 105 dollars in the bank…  And the only reason I had that much is because I was able to talk my very generous landlord into letting me forgo rent for the month.  I’m not the type of person who likes to ask people for money, and if I got a part time day job, I wouldn’t have time to keep up with this blog as well as I have, so you can call it an act of desperation that I’m writing this message now.  I’m not going to ask you to start sending paypal donations, but what I *AM* going to do is plug my Ebay store, where I’ve listed tons of items from my personal collection, most of which are anime related.  Some of them are a bit expensive, I’m sorry, but A) I’m trying to get back to a sitation where I dson’t have to fear for my life when my next car insurance bill arrives and B) Some of this merchandise has some actual sentimental value for me.

Of course, I wouldn’t do this without offering something in return, so how about this:  Within the next week, if you spend more than fifty dollars in my store, I’ll mail you not only your purchase, but an autographed copy of the review I’m posting next week…  A review of the smash hit, One Punch Man.  Or any other previous review you fancy, whatever, I’m flexible.

You can find my Ebay page at http://www.ebay.com/sch/fullmetal_narcissist/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

Onto the pictures!


I asked. The name is pronounced “Kirara.”


It wouldn’t be a convention without at least one dancing Deadpool.


You like this giant black Pikachu? You’re gonna be seeing a lot of him.


“I heard you leik…” Seriously, This is my best friend Drew. Another friend of ours and I talked him into wearing this, and even split the cost to buy it for him. Peer pressure is super effective.


A walk-by from an Attack on Titan group.


Just because it’s an anime convention, doesn’t mean Power Rangers should be allowed in.


Hetalia, on the other hand… Just kidding, I love Hetalia fans! They’re quirky.


Gotta love the craftsmanship on this Summer Wars costume.


Do not antagonize Batman. He takes his shit seriously.


If there’s one thing I genuinely love about Black Butler, it’s the character designs, so the cosplayers are okay with me.


Domo Arigato, Mr…. Domo.


There were quite a few Frozen cosplayers in 2014. Here we have Anna, when she was getting… Frozen.


PikaDrew posing with another pokemon… This time an Umbreon!


Bubblegum and Marceline? Pairing confirmed!


Yeah, he’s pretty much posing with every Pokemon cosplay we could find. He got a lot of hugs out of it, too.


I don’t think I know how to deal with this Crona costume…


By the logic of the DC Universe, I hereby dub thee… Slenderlad!


The separation between Western Cartoons and Anime may be hotly contested, but convention-goers are pretty chill about non-anime cosplayers like Jessie here.


Here’s Armin, shouldering the survival of the human race!


Sisters reunited!


Sasha, appropriately hanging around near the vending machines.


There’s a juicy story behind this one… Ash just happened to be checking out a lovely lady offscreen, and I called him out on it, saying “Eyes forward, Ash.” In the second picture, which I’ve lost to Iphoto corruption, he’s looking forward, and Misty’s giving him a death glare.


It’s the Riddler!


More black Butler cosplays, this time with Grell!


Here’s Lucy Heartfilia, summoning up a pose for us.


This lovely Sword Art Online couple had their own booth at the Artist’s alley.


Out of all the costumes I’ve seen, this one really… Delivers.


Not sure if it’s a Doctor Who cosplay… Or a humanized Doctor Whooves cosplay.


Considering how customizable The Dragonborn is, this home-made Skyrim cosplay was as bold as it was beautiful.


What’s that, Navi? I’m listening, but I can’t hear you!


It’s probably very roomy in there.


More Sword Art Online cosplayers, looking fine!


This Poison Ivy cosplay would make Bell Biv Devoe proud.


This dude, who should NEVER let his hair grow long again, is me! It’s my second time hugging Monica Rial, just as epic as the first time!


Me again, in my lazy Steins;Gate Duds, this time with Cherami Leigh!


Drew, no longer adorned in Pikachu onesies, also gets some Cherami love.


I’ve had this picture of Celty as one of random desktop backgrounds for a few years, now.


Something’s off about this Fluttershy cosplay…


Bot not as off as this Rainbow Dash cosplay. I refuse to explain what’s going on here.


Ah, a V costume with some effort behind it.


I’ve been told this is Star Wars related. I feel no reason to argue.


Is it weird that I’ve seen more than enough No-Face costumes to officially rank them?


This pose makes rainbow Dash look 20 Percent… You know the rest.


When I called out to this group, I referred to them as Mabel and Double Dipper. I didn’t even realize the joke I was making.


The evil lord Satan himself, here on break from, his shift at MgRonalds!


Scott Pilgrim and… I can’t remember, but they were both in the Human Chess match.


And a Resident Evil character! Perfect way to end off!

Hope you guys enjoyed this pictorial, and as I said before, I’ll be posting a review of One Punch Man next week. But for those of you who spend 50 dollars or more at my Ebay store will be getting an autographed physical copy! Either way, I hope you enjoy reading it!


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