Frame Arms Girl, a Guilty Pleasure

Welcome, all, again.  I have recently been watching Frame Arms Girl on hidive.com, and have grown to greatly enjoy it.  And believe me, this was no foregone conclusion.  Like Robot Girls Z, this series focuses upon anthropomorphized cute-girl versions of fighting robots, these originating with the Frame Arms mecha line.  And both lines, original and female, existed as model kits prior to either this series or its previous manga adaptation.  In other words, this show runs the risk of being considered just one long commercial.  But having grown up watching Western cartoons, I’m already quite inured to and unswayed by this situation.  From Transformers to Bratz, marketing by way of animated series has become an established mainstay of toy marketing strategy.  In fact, looking back through the jaded eyes of an adult, even the original Scooby Doo seems like one extended, trippy promo for pot usage–or at least an associated lifestyle.  Not brand-specific advertising, perhaps, but certainly interpretable as marketing.

Yet sometimes these purveyors of plastic blow-molding artifice get so worked-up over a project that they accidentally create real entertainment within their advertising.  Witness My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Now, I’m no brony, but I completely forget about the toys et al. while watching this show.  Great characterization is combined with far-ranging storylines–and all those bright, pretty colors (of course)!–to keep me glued to my seat.  (Speaking of which: hey, Hasbro, has Fluffle Puff been licensed yet?!  Officially licensed?  We fans shouldn’t be forced to go to YouTube just to see Fluffle Puff. . .Hasbro?  Hasbro!)  Anyway, getting back on topic, some shows are able to transcend their inherent marketing raison d’etre.  Frame Arms Girl does just that.

This series follows the daily lives of Frame Arms (F. A.) girls as they learn about the world in which they exist while also fighting each other.  The girls are sentient automatons who stand several inches tall and who possess the rough intelligence of a human 10-year-old when initially activated.  They are designed to accumulate knowledge and incorporate it into their interactions with their environment; in short, they are made to learn and adapt.  But also to fight.  Each girl has weapons, armor, and combat capabilities specific to her person, and uses these as she battles other F. A. girls.  Meanwhile (and for some unexplained reason), the girls’ creator, Factory Advance, seeks to accumulate combat data from their matches.  Things seem just a bit suspicious.

Suspicious to me, maybe, but not to Ao Gennai, the high school girl around whom our diminutive cast assemble.  Ao one day receives a delivery–quite possibly a misdelivery–of what she takes to be a doll sent by her father.  This figure is actually Gourai, a Frame Arms girl specializing in ground warfare.  And after Ao accidentally activates her, two more F. A. girls appear, seeking battle with Gourai.  It seems that Ao has initiated the only successful activation of a Gourai unit, so other models of F. A. girls begin to flock to her apartment in order to test themselves against a truly unique opponent.  This quickly becomes inconvenient for Ao, who then considers just returning the small warriors, but is dissuaded by the promise of monetary compensation for hosting the girls and their battles.  Living on her own and beset by everyday expenses, Ao is quick to seize upon this windfall of financial opportunity.  And so the girls learn that money has power.

But they’re learning a lot more, as well.  Interacting with Ao and each other helps them to recognize and develop emotions, even as they gain concrete knowledge of the world beyond their battle stage.  One bit of learning that does sometimes seem excessive is in the yuri undertones of certain storylines–younger viewers might be made curious while older viewers might be made uncomfortable.  There are even brief moments when the word hentai might not be an incorrect description of the action and dialogue presented.  (I haven’t seen this many panty shots since Strike Witches!)  But the show’s real focus is upon the development of affection and trust amongst these many different personalities, creating an opportunity for friendship.   Which is, of course, magic.  Right, Fluffle Puff?

[Parental Note: this series contains a lot of thinly veiled sexual references, from power cord insertion “punishments” to drop-of-the-hat moaning sessions.  The story itself is pretty good, but the show through which it’s told will be a guilty pleasure.]

Action Heroine Cheer Fruits, a Real Treat!

Welcome, all, again.  I have mentioned several times already the abundance of quality shows available this viewing season, and Action Heroine Cheer Fruits continues that trend!  Imagine taking the very best elements of Sakura Quest, Locodol, and Magica Wars, and finding a way to combine them almost seamlessly.  You’d have something unique yet recognizable, compelling but comfortable–you’d have Action Heroine Cheer Fruits, in which a group of high school students come together to create a hero show in their hometown of Hinano City.   But each girl’s reasons for joining the effort are her own, and half the fun is watching as they try to establish and then settle into their individual roles.  Not only are there too many cooks for just one pot of soup, they’re not even working from the same recipe!

Student council president Misaki Shirogane is the granddaughter of the deceased former prefectural governor (I think, although he might have been the city mayor), whose political and personal reputation has been sullied by the legacy of debt he left the city.  Misaki is desperate to restore her grandfather’s honor and is constantly scouring the city for ideas for its revitalization.  (It seems that, in addition to massive debt, Hinano City is also suffering from a dwindling population.)  Chasing inspiration, Misaki stumbles upon fellow schoolmates An Akagi and Mikan Kise as they practice a routine from the popular children’s character Kamidaio, with which they hope to entertain Mikan’s younger sister Yuzuka.  They do just that, but Misaki secretly films them and uploads the video to the web, then uses the popularity of the clip to entice the two into becoming Hinano City’s new local heroines.  (Remind anyone else of the sneaky way in which Nanako’s uncle recruited her in Locodol?)

As in Locodol, we see a group of girls slowly gain members and build into a cohesive unit, becoming more assured and practiced in the entertainment they offer.  And as in Sakura Quest, these girls take their individual reasons for participating and direct them towards fulfilling a common need and goal: offsetting the city’s debt and shrinking revenue while also restoring civic pride.  Also like the characters in Sakura Quest, these seem to operate with a great deal of autonomy and freedom.  And if you’re wondering about the Magica Wars reference, that comes from the competitiveness  between heroines representing different regions.

Of course, our protagonists are not allowed an easy road, and the challenges they face are many and diverse.  But from the personal vendettas of petty rivalries to the legal repercussions of alleged copyright infringement, our team maintains their drive and continues pushing forward (even if forward seems to strongly resemble a brick wall!).  In fact, the question of copyright infringement leads to the watershed decision to morph into an identifiably local group, the Cheer Fruits, performing original material called “Hina Nectar” shows.  These changes then inspire the recruitment of additional members, in turn expanding the group’s creative capabilities even further!  And the story continues to develop along these lines.  Scenarios and focus change from episode to episode, but the show itself maintains a cohesively positive storyline.  This is a fun series that’s well-worth an investment of your time.  (It simulcasts on hidive.com every Saturday at 8AM.)

Dining at the Restaurant to Another World

Welcome, all, again.  Today I return to a series which I mentioned briefly several weeks ago, Restaurant to Another World.  Any readers here who are also familiar with my reviews on 918thefan.com or in crunchyroll.com‘s previous incarnation of the Takeout newsletter will recognize that I am a huge fan of food-based anime.  I just can’t seem to help it!  I spent years in the food service industry, and was a cook (Mess Specialist, back then) in the Navy.  Cooking is for me as enjoyable and rewarding a creative process as is writing.  And while I no longer cook professionally, I do still prepare meals at the request of friends or family.  Sharing food is to share something of ourselves–little wonder that so many holidays the world over are celebrated with ritual feasts!

Restaurant to Another World in its turn celebrates this tendency we share to bond over food.  And while diners might share the experience of both food and companionship during a meal, there exists a most special connection between diner and cook.  After all, cooking is not done in a void, but rather with the intention of providing someone with sustenance (often both physical and emotional).  A meal is both gift and contract, the ultimate expression of the cook’s response to the trust s/he is shown by those awaiting food.  Cooking is caring, and the master of Western Restaurant Nekoya cares deeply!

Located in an undisclosed Tokyo shopping district, Western Restaurant Nekoya offers dishes both foreign and familiar to Japanese diners.  But on Saturdays, while closed in the mundane world, this restaurant is accessible to beings from another realm by means of multiple free-standing appearances of its entry door.  And over the years many different types of beings have entered those doors, from Elves to lizardmen, mermaids to dragons.  In fact, while operating in this magical realm, the restaurant is under the auspices and personal protection of the “Red Queen,” one of that world’s six ancient dragons.  She personally recommends a second of their number, Kuro, for a job as waitress–just what every customer wants, Death incarnate waiting the table!

And this show focuses upon the establishment’s customers, each episode offering vignettes usually involving one or more of them.  Even Aletta, the proprietor’s first hire in the magical realm, began as a diner, if an unorthodox one.  Homeless and hungry, she stumbled through a particularly early doorway appearance, gobbling down some leftover food before falling asleep on the floor.  When the proprietor came into the kitchen, he found a rather ragged-looking Demon girl sleeping amidst the evidence of her petty theft.  Upon waking her and learning of her dismal circumstances, he offers Aletta weekly work as a waitress for both pay and meals, giving her life some much-needed stability.  He would eventually likewise hire Kuro so that she could earn the restaurant food she craves.

And so it goes.  Customers are introduced, given a backstory, and thereafter linked to favorite menu items.  We listen to their discussions, watch their interactions, and in so doing gradually learn more about them and their world.  Food creates companionship, which then sometimes creates more concrete relationships.  Imagine Sweetness and Lightning‘s deft approach being distilled through Soma’s Restaurant Yukihira (Food Wars!)–all while serving denizens of GATE‘s Special Region!  Yeah, something like that.  Just remember that this series is character-oriented rather that character-driven; story-driven is completely out of the question.  So enjoy it for what it is, a quiet and meandering contemplation of the restorative and embracive qualities of food prepared and served as meals.  Order up!

 

Introducing: Indigo Ignited

Welcome, all, again.  Today’s discussion will focus upon the pilot episode of Indigo Ignited, a brand-new (released 08 August, 2017!) anime based upon an original manga by David Pinter and Samuel Dalton.  But wait–those don’t sound like Japanese names!  What’s going on here?  Well, just slow yourselves down for a minute.  Let me review the show first, after which I’ll address the elephant in the room.  (Seriously, did that “Most Interesting Man in the World” really bring an elephant?  Well, you better believe he ain’t leaving it here!)*

Indigo Ignited is Kieran’s story, following his existence as the last of his race in a post-apocalyptic world.  Kieran is an Indigo, beings who are able to manipulate gravitational fields and are thus also able to manipulate physical objects.  (Drawing a blank?  Think of Yoda lifting the X-wing fighter from the swamp of Dagobah.  Really lost, now?  Then think of Terra tossing–and wearing–rocks on Teen Titans Go!)  As might be imagined, this power over gravity is something that others wish to control.  And the pilot episode introduces us to our first contender for Kieran’s powers, called simply The Alderman.

But The Alderman is no ordinary foe, bragging that he has long been a hunter of Kieran’s race.  Moreover, The Alderman rules his town of Annalise through magical means, controlling the townsfolks’ minds through masks he requires them to wear.  But isn’t it the way of the world that those with some little power almost always seem to desire more?  Sad then that the lessons of even an apocalypse seem incapable of changing basic human nature.  Greed, prejudice, discrimination, and downright villainy remain in full flower.  And so Kieran and any who stand with him are in for a rough time.

Now, to be fair, this pilot is barely over 8 minutes long.  That said, don’t expect a lot of character exposition or development, backstory, or even plot progression.  What we get is a snapshot of evil being unleashed upon innocents and the promise of broodingly dark fantasy.  This pilot is meant to grab our attention, and it does.  The fun will come in seeing what they do with it as the story progresses.  So for now, go watch: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3p-5gTtXnA&t=10s]

*OK, so back to that elephant.  The original manga authors hail from the Albuquerque area, but the anime is being produced by D’ART Shtajio, a new animation studio in Tokyo that was created by Henry Thurlow and Arthell and Darnell Isom.  So, wait–is the anime a Japanese production or not?  It is a Tokyo company, so yes.  But those names don’t sound Japanese.  They’re not.  But other names associated with the project are, such as Asuka Tsubuki (Detective Conan) in Animation Direction and Yoshiharu Ashino (Cross Ange, First Squad, D.Gray-man) with Storyboards.  OK, but how can the original work be called manga if it was made in New Mexico?  Because that’s what its authors call it.  Look, I’ve heard the arguments that a Japanese origin is essential to the correct application of the terms manga and anime.  And I both understand and respect the purists’ position.  But as a writer, I think that type of thinking is just too limiting and constrictive in today’s globalized society.  These artists recognized a particular form (in this case foreign) which they wished to emulate, and they did so, to the exclusion of more local ideals.  Does not their application of such form to their work mean that the form consequently applies to that work, at least somewhat?  But then at what point does cultural exchange become cultural appropriation?  I don’t know, but I personally don’t think that comic vs. manga or cartoon vs. anime is the venue in which to decide the question.  Instead, why don’t we just call it cross-pollination and settle back to see what beauty it might offer us.

 

Watching Gamers!

Welcome, all, again.  Today’s subject will be Gamers!, which follows the romantic and gaming misadventures of a set of high school students.  Sound underwhelming, perhaps?  As if it might be nothing more than a series of awkward misunderstandings, unbelievable coincidences, and cliched plot devices?  More curiously, how can you be so right and yet so wrong?  It’s simple, really: this show’s story far surpasses its premise.

Keita Amano is a shy introvert whose greatest passion is gaming.  Because of this passion (certainly not because of his talent!), he is approached by Karen Tendou, the school’s idolized beauty.  It so happens that Karen is herself a passionate gamer and the president of the school’s Gaming Club, which is populated by a few hardcore gamers.  Amano visits the club after class and enjoys the experience for its novelty, but nonetheless rejects Karen’s invitation to join.  It seems that Amano has no interest in competitive gaming, which is the primary means through which the Gaming Club supports itself and its activities.  So, one and done, right?

Well, no.  You see, Karen–being the school’s reigning idol–is unaccustomed to rejection.  So much so that she invited Amano in front of his classmates.  And we can hear whole worlds shatter when Amano declines that invitation.  In fact, Amano is just about the only one blissfully clueless to the social catastrophe he has wrought.  Karen flees in tears from the sudden public humiliation, while Amano’s classmates grow restless in his presence–just who does this nerdy nobody think he is, making their idol cry?  Amano has kicked a bear, and is about to face its claws.  And he still has no idea.

Nor will he have much time to develop one.  Amano’s rejection of Karen sets off a chain of events that drag in other students and start to fray their established social order.  Karen falls for the boy with the moxie to reject her, while Amano finds it difficult to have a normal conversation with anyone, particularly someone as popular as she.  And so he keeps shutting her out–and unwittingly inflating her opinion of him in the process!  Amano’s handsome and popular classmate Tasuku Uehara tries to help him understand the developing situation, but just ends up muddying the waters.  And although Uehara initially involves himself for his own entertainment, he instead becomes friends with Amano.  He even tries to help Amano build his confidence around girls by introducing him to a rather unkempt female gamer, hoping that their shared interest might spark conversation.  Unfortunately, it sparks several, even dragging Uehara’s devoted but ditzy girlfriend into the deepening morass.

This show rolls along riding incidents of misinterpreted situations,  misunderstood intentions, and mistaken efforts.  The comedy is quirky and often exaggerated; honestly, I feel that there are even some moments of intentionally awkward animation just to heighten comedic effect.  Gamers! seems meant for immediate consumption and enjoyment–instant gratification–and to that end both the characters and the situations are kept relatively shallow.  And it works, right down to Uehara’s underappreciated girlfriend Aguri proving to be the most sympathetic character of the lot.  This is the cotton candy of this season’s shows, sticky and sweet and insubstantial.  But who doesn’t love the occasional sugar rush?

 

 

Observing A Centaur’s Life

Welcome, all, again.  I’ve just got to say how happy I am with this viewing season so far!  It seems that an unusually high number of shows that began strong continue so, and I’m continually finding more to watch as I explore new titles.  A case in point is A Centaur’s Life, which I finally decided to peek at earlier this week. . .and then sat transfixed for all 4 currently available episodes.  More than anything, I had just wanted to see how the different beings were drawn.  What I found was clever writing, keenly attentive drawing, and a biting awareness of societal shift.  This show is smart, funny, and a visual joy!

 

A Centaur’s Life is a slice-of-life comedy following high school student Himeno Kimihara and her family and friends.  The story is set in a world in which four-limbed animals became extinct in favor of animals with six appendages, that extra set being anything from additional legs to horns.  (The designs of the majority of humanoid beings seem to be derived from various mythologies and folklore.)  Otherwise, Himeno’s world looks a lot like our own, complete with all of our everyday conveniences and the problems they give us, not to mention the demands of family and school.  And it is in these small expositions of everyday life that the show’s nuanced comedy slant shines most brilliantly!  (Seek, and ye shall find.)

But this show is more than just comedy, confronting us with the idea that we become prisoners to the social constructs we ourselves create.  And that point is not made with any subtlety.  Indeed, our overly litigated political correctness of today is ominously linked with the militarized social equalization efforts of China’s Cultural Revolution as characters nervously whisper conversations and repeatedly warn each other about being carted off to reeducation facilities.  It seems that in a world in which its peoples developed such different physiques (and accompanying abilities and limitations), equality becomes both primary goal and measure of society’s advancement.  Watch for one moment of dark insight in which it is explained that a given minority’s minoritizing aspects are specifically what justify the investment of a preponderance of research and funding into advancing that minority–over the competing needs of the majority who pay for it.  (Does this sound vaguely familiar?)  And yet, is not such uneven investment a form of preference and favoritism, the very antitheses of equality?  Of course, it is explained, but equality demands unequal treatment.

 

Our characters are well-aware of the contradictions inherent in the application of their society’s concept of social justice, but perhaps even more aware of the very immediate dangers of questioning that application.  Such discussions–such ideas–are criminal.  Witness one teacher’s nervous glances while discussing the pattern of evolution; government agents are literally right outside the classroom door, keeping tabs on the lecture.  (But what a lecture!  It is offered for the students’ consideration that had four-limbed creatures become the dominant life forms, then coloring rather than body type would likely have been the primary differentiation between peoples, thus virtually eliminating prejudice and discrimination.  After all, how could rational beings possibly find fault with something as minor as color?)

This series is a must-watch!  Smart and funny but also thought-provoking, it engages its audience on a number of different levels.  Two such examples of this are attentive character design and an inventive exploration of interaction between different peoples.  (But don’t worry–the social commentary isn’t all political.  There’s plenty of ammo saved for life’s quieter, more personal situations.)  This show offers simple storylines, easy laughs, and even the opportunity to ask ourselves what we really want from our society and our individual participation in it.  Passive/aggressive, sure, but what’s not to love?

 

 

Stumbling In[to] Another World With My Smartphone

Welcome, all, again.  Have you ever noticed how when somebody has a good idea, you suddenly see it everywhere?  And there is neither a pretense of originality nor apology offered for blatant intellectual theft.  Indeed, the popularity of the original idea becomes the justification for its almost thoughtless imitation (read as regurgitation).  In writing, this is called plagiarism.  In the rest of the world, it’s called business as usual.  But occasionally–so very occasionally–an imitation appears that is worthy of the original, being more of an homage than an embarrassment.  And that perfectly describes the subject of today’s review, In Another World With My Smartphone.

So, how about having an anime about a character who can die and return to life?  You know, like in them there vidja games!  In fact, why not model the storyline on the basic formula of those very games, with quests and parties and weird weapons and abilities. . .oh, and we’re probably gonna want some of those monsters and such.  And some of the hottest gals who ever walked around perpetually single but just waiting on the right guy.  See, now we’ve got a game!  Er, I mean, an anime.

And it’s not even as if this recent spate of shows is the first time the subject been covered.  But just recently we’ve had Konosuba‘s two seasons, as well as Re:Zero–Starting Life In Another World, which won numerous awards.  Konosuba came first, following the comedic misadventures of Kazuma Sato and companions after his death in our world.  Offered an ability or item of his choice with which to be reincarnated into an RPG world, Sato chooses the goddess Aqua herself, who is handling his reincarnation.  And that might have been a brilliant–even inspired–choice, were Aqua a little brighter.  What might have been, right?  Then Re:Zero arrived with its much more serious slant and, to be honest, I was not a fan.  I guess Konosuba had spoiled me, but Re:Zero seemed to be trying too hard–to me, it had no heart, and I stopped watching just a few episodes in.  True, Re:Zero had some beautiful artwork and did a yeoman’s job of character development, but I just never really got into it.  Maybe I’ll try again, sometime.

But now we’ve got In Another World With My Smartphone, and I’m loving this show!  Touya Mochizuki awakens to find himself in a private meeting with God, who explains that he accidentally killed Touya with a lightning strike.  By way of apology, God offers to reincarnate Touya into a magical world with the added benefit of the gift or ability of his choice.  Touya immediately requests to bring his smartphone with him.  God agrees and, somewhat taken aback by the smallness of Touya’s request, enhances his other abilities (such as strength, magic, etc).

Touya then awakens in his new world, and immediately puts his smartphone to use for directions.  Moreover, denizens of this world consider Touya’s smartphone to be a type of personal magic that only he can use.  But it turns out that with God’s extra oomph, Touya can use just about any type of magic available, making him very unique.  This, in turn, draws attention, but not all of it is unwelcome: Touya has only to walk down the road, and girls seem to fall out of the trees and land at his feet.  Talk about enhanced abilities!  But whatever might those girls see in him?  That is, beyond his exotic foreign charm.  And his overwhelming powers as a mage.  And his surprising physical strength.  Oh, right–on top of all that, his smartphone allows him to impress the girls with his cooking!  His cooking!  Now, I know God was feeling bad for Touya, but he really went and stacked the deck on this one.  But Touya nonetheless remains humble and helpful, so maybe we can overlook a little overcompensation.  Maybe.

This is a fun show, a tongue-in-cheek send-up of RPGs and the anime that they’ve inspired.  And it approaches the situation from an entirely different perspective than does Magical Circle Guru Guru, another RPG-inspired show:  Touya is the nigh-invincible hero exploring his capabilities, whereas MCGG‘s Nike is the disinterested straw man, the hero’s reluctant proxy.  And speaking of disinterest, it’s seems that In Another World With My Smartphone is turning into something of a harem show.  So far, though, that particular aspect has been prevented from becoming obnoxious, and this series remains a quietly witty and enjoyable–if predictable–bit of fantasy.

 

 

Magical Circle Guru Guru!

Welcome, all, again.  I bring to you today a most recent discovery of mine, found only this morning–but I can’t stop laughing, and have already re-watched this show a couple of times!  And just what have I found?  Something called Magical Circle Guru Guru, currently being shown on Crunchyroll.  Apparently, this is its third incarnation as a TV anime, with the first running from 1994-5 with 45 episodes and the second in 2000 with 38 episodes.  (Boy, am I late to this party!)  24 episodes are scheduled for this time around.

But what is it?  A blast from the past with serious comedic bite!  From what I’ve read, the franchise came about as a parody of RPGs.  I’m not a gamer, so such description is edging beyond my knowledge and experience.  The show does, however, remind me a lot of when video games first began appearing in homes, with their simple 8-bit graphics and almost interchangeable characters and quests.  (The artwork used is also kept predominately simple and childlike.)  I could easily see this being some early version of Mario where both the gamer and Mario (and fellow characters) had ALL been out drinking the night before play.

As for the story itself: Demon King Giri has returned after being banished for about 300 years.  Only one practitioner remains of the hereditary magic that sealed him away, 12-year-old Kukuri, who is woefully undertrained in using her powers.  And falling into her life as if out of the sky is Nike, 13 years old and trained by his father to be a hero.  Unfortunately, Nike has no interest in becoming a hero, preferring to instead study magic.  But choices are for rich people, and Nike and Kukuri suddenly find themselves out questing in the big world.  Will they find allies?  Or enemies?  Or even each other, as Kukuri has an incurable habit of wandering off?

This show is side-splittingly funny as well as being just plain, stupid fun!  Honestly, this wasn’t even going to be my subject today, but it’s such a great show that my plans got hijacked.  Once I found this, I just had to share it!  I can’t wait for more episodes (on Tuesdays at 12:05PM EDT), and heartily encourage you to give this comedy a try.

Quick Announcements for 14 July, 2017

Welcome, all, again.  This post will not be a review, but will instead serve to disseminate several bits of information.

First, an important reminder: tomorrow, Saturday, 15 July, will see the airing of a two-hour Star vs. the Forces of Evil TV movie on Disney XD.  Times are 11AM, 2PM, and 7PM EDT.  Star returns to her home dimension of Mewni in an effort to save it from conquest and ruin.  Won’t you go, too? [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUYjnA7yBe0]

Next: Two past favorites have returned during this new viewing season!  Crunchyroll is simulcasting a second season of NEW GAME!! on Tuesdays at 9AM CDT (8AM EDT).  New projects lead to new assignments and the introduction of new characters. . .but it’s still the same Aoba-chan!  Meanwhile, CR is also airing the fourth–that’s right, the fourth!–season of Hell Girl on Fridays at 11:30AM CDT (10:30AM EDT).  How lucky can we get?

Last, and on a musical note:  Molly Pinto Madigan, an incredibly talented musician/singer/songwriter and personal friend, is on PledgeMusic accepting pre-orders for her third album, The Cup Overflows.  She reached her pledge goal early, and is already more than fully funded.  So I’m offering you this link just to encourage you to check out her music, something of a modern folk sound: [http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/mpm].  In fact, just for fun, here’s a YouTube video for the song “On the Hunt” from her last album, Wildwood Bride: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYp6aBzK0mY].  Please enjoy.

And that’s it for this short edition of Another Anime Review!  The next post will see a return to actual reviews, so please look forward to it.

Observations on Anime Blues 2017

Welcome, all, again.  Anime Blues 7 just wrapped up yesterday afternoon (Sunday, 09 July), and I hope that some of you were able to attend.  Although my schedule only allowed my own attendance on Saturday, I brought my two youngest sons and my niece (all adults) with me and we all had a blast!  Panels were attended; cosplays were admired; and vendors were enriched.  I even treated my group to lunch at Shang Hai, one of the restaurants which I mentioned in my previous “Going Native” post.  We had only one day, but it was a good day!

Some observations:  wide variety of panels and discussions; many photo-shoot opportunities (of which I failed to avail myself); good selection of vendors and wares, from anime & art to clothing & collectables to imported Japanese eats; high attendance numbers (based upon personal observation, not official count).  Security was present without being overbearing (oh, that first year–you’d have thought we were at a TSA training facility!).  And the Sheraton once again provided catered food, which I didn’t go near enough this time to even comment upon here.

As to be expected, con means cosplay.  There was plenty on display, with many beautiful and intricately detailed costumes being worn.  (Such artistry!)  Characters past and present made appearances, such as Tohru

and Kiki.

But cosplay is more than just costume–comportment is likewise important!  The Sailor Moon franchise has been reinvigorated–some would even say reinvented–by Sailor Moon Crystal.  And there was a corresponding increase in related cosplay at AB7 this year.  But out of all the Sailor Moons and fellow Sailor Scouts running around Cook Convention Center, this one stood out to me like a candle in a dark room:

Hers was not the most detailed costume–indeed, her sailor blouse was actually a screen-printed T-shirt.  It was instead her comportment–her dedication to portraying the essence of a young Usagi suddenly become an unready but desperately needed hero–that made her into her character.  For me watching, she was more than just Sailor Moon–she was Usagi being Sailor Moon, an aspect too often overlooked.  This is how it’s done, folks.

Anyway, much loot was bought and much fun was had!  For fellow attendees, I hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as I did.  For those who didn’t make it, I hope you can next year.  Or to the con nearest you.  Cons can be a little weird and overwhelming, especially your first one, but they offer a unique immersion into fan culture.  So go geek out with some other folks who actually talk the talk and get your references.  Go ask your burning questions; go show off your costuming and crafting skills!  Go have a little fun.  Go con!