[Blaugust Day 28]
Much like Steam before it, CrunchyRoll has completely supplanted any desire of mine to pirate its product – in this case, anime. It was really a combination of things, as it was getting annoying finding anime torrents with more than 4-5 seeders, having to download 10+ GB worth of show that you’re going to end up deleting anyway, bad fan subs, missing episodes, and so on.
Then here came CrunchyRoll with streaming content, professional subbing, and even simulcasts if you wanted to pay for Premium. If you didn’t want to pay, you could still watch the shows of your choice, with ads. Ads which, incidentally, are completely blocked with AdBlockPlus such that they barely register as a flicker on the screen.
Originally, I think I was tricked into subscribing for CrunchyRoll Premium in that they were holding the final episode of the show I was watching hostage. It might have been legitimate, in that the show just ended in Japan, and Premium users get access to the latest episode at least a week before it goes “free.” Whatever the reason, I signed up for the “free trial” of Premium and then stayed subscribed ever since. I consider it a fairly good value overall, especially since I can watch everything in 1080p. You wouldn’t think resolution matters in hand-drawn content, but you would be surprised. Or maybe that was just me being surprised.
I usually watch 1-2 episodes of some random show or another during dinner, which means I can plow through an entire series in a week or two. This wasn’t a problem, until it kinda was: I had watched just about everything ever recommended to me… that plays on CrunchyRoll.
Now I wanted to watch Steins;Gate. Enter FUNimation:
Which, incidentally, plays anime through Hulu.
Have you ever been in a situation where a friend or coworker was really shit-talking someone bad, and you nod your head, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking “Surely some of that is exaggeration. Nobody is that awful.” And some time passes before you encounter that person, so you sorta forget about them. Then you finally meet them and realize “holy shit, they really are that awful! I regret everything!”
So, yeah, Hulu.
Are you serious?
I heard Hulu was bad with ads, but my mind is still reeling from this encounter. I was trying to watch Steins;Gate, which is already hard enough to follow without two minutes, forty seconds of unskippable ads every four minutes of show. I understand that that’s “normal” television show content-to-ad ratios (22 min of show, 8 of ads), but that is also precisely why I don’t watch television. I have never bought cable my whole adult life and hopefully never will.
Really, you almost have to experience this abomination for yourself:
Apparently AdBlockPlus will block some ads but not others. I could not verify it for sure, but I’m also convinced that the timer resets sometimes when I’m Alt-Tabbed and it tries to cycle into another ad that it cannot display. At least, it certainly feels that way. Or perhaps I am so used to, you know, the internet that waiting 150 seconds for the content I want to load simply feels like an eternity.
Like CrunchyRoll, FUNimation has a Premium version that supposedly removes the ads. Given how much shit I’ve heard about Hulu, and how Hulu expressly states that “†Some shows will still serve ads to subscribers,” I have little inclination to believe them.
So congrats, FUNimation/Hulu, for being goddamn annoying enough that this becomes a better alternative once again:
It took about 35 minutes to download that. Or about four episodes worth of Hulu advertising.
Genre: Harem, Supernatural, Action
Strike the Blood is a sort of disguised, supernatural harem action anime. The main character is a high school student, Kojou, who has been transformed into the “4th Progenitor,” a sort of super-vampire who could upset the balance of the other three super-vampires. In response, various human and supernatural parties try to court his attention, keep an eye on him, and/or try and kill him. Did I mention this all this takes place on a man-made island way out in the ocean, made structurally sound by magic and ancient relics? And a significant portion of the population are pseudo-demons?
While there were quite a few particularly hilarious scenes/situations, the bottom line is that this really was as I described it: an action harem anime. If it annoys you when 4-5 girls compete for the male lead’s attention in just about everything they do, then you’re not likely to have a good time. If instead you’re looking for something funny with angst and drama all the traditional harem trimmings, this is likely worth your time.
Genre: Action, Fast-Paced
Kill la Kill is a fast-paced action anime from the creators of Gurren Lagann. In this regard, I sort of view a parallel between it and FLCL; both are less-serious, more-manic derivatives of what came before while still holding ground on their own merits. The premise is that a particular Japanese high school is crafting school uniforms with “Life Fibers,” which grant the wearer immense power. Ryuuko recently transfers to this school to seek revenge for the death of her father at the hands of a mysterious assailant. What follows is a huge assortment of duels, explosions, and Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequences as Ryuuko dispatches her foes with one half of a pair of scissors. The show only gets crazier as time goes on.
This anime does many things particular well. For example, while the heroine (and most female foes) dons a fairly fanservice costume, there is at least an attempt at a rational explanation for it on top of the anime not dwelling too much on it… outside of some jokes at the anime’s own expense, of course. The pacing of the show is also extremely well done, with just enough breaks in the action to catch one’s breath. In this regard, the episodes seemed to fly right by and always leave you hungry for more. I recommend a watch if you enjoy zany action anime.
Genre: Everyday Life, Ghost, Drama
Are you in the mood to be depressed? Homesick? Want to feel like you need to call your friends right now? Then, boy do I have the anime for you! Anohana is an anime that follows a small group of friends, several years after the accidental death of one of their members. After a year or so of social withdraw, Jinta suddenly begins to see what he believes to be a hallucination of Menma, the member of the group that had died years prior. After interacting with her over a series of weeks and months, he comes to believe that perhaps she is a spirit trapped on Earth until her final wish is granted. From there, he begins to try and recruit his old friends to help figure out Menma’s last wish and fulfill it.
I’m not going to lie – this can sometimes be a hard anime to watch, for reasons that have nothing to do with it’s otherwise outstanding quality. In fact, this is perhaps the best anime I have ever seen in its examinations of how much impact a death can have on a circle of friends. There’s survivor’s guilt, jealousy, feelings of failure, love triangles, mental health issues, and more all in 11 short episodes. Still, if you are in the market for an anime that will make you feel something, Anohana is an easy recommendation.
As I’ve mentioned before, I usually keep my anime reviews on the down-low, if only because I’m not entirely sure of the overlap in readership interest. If you are interested though, I have a half-dozen new micro-reviews up on the Review tab, including Attack on Titan, Angel Beats!, and Psycho PASS. I am actually to the point where I’m cleaning up the rest of my unwatched anime collection, and will likely start seeing if streaming sites like CrunchyRoll is better than downloading.
And if you have no interest in anime, you’re missing out:
This post may or may not have been an elaborate excuse to upload these screenshots.
It’s been a while, but the follow anime have micro-reviews up:
I usually don’t bother with screenshots while watching a show, but I made a few exceptions:
Finally, here are two more from the moments when toothbrushes and staplers were changed forever:
If you want context, you’ll have to watch the show(s)!
Just a quick note that I have finished my transition of decade-old anime reviews from my 2003 AngelFire (!) website that was, inexplicably, still online – people weren’t kidding when they say there is only one internet. While some of reviews are cringe-inducing, I am nevertheless impressed by the exhaustive thoroughness of some of the others written in my youth. If you want to read a nearly 2000-word treatise on Evangelion or 1500 words on Now & Then, Here & There, well, now you can.
I (un)fortunately stopped writing anime reviews halfway through college, and thus none exist for some of the other popular works like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo and the like; it is unlikely that I will go back and write some up, just like I have little interest in importing the 60+ RPG reviews I wrote back in the day when I freelanced.
Anyway, I have pretty much decided to not feature anime reviews in the post feed proper (i.e. here), and instead periodically mention when several go up at once. So, well, several additional anime micro-reviews are also up, including Sword Art Online, Elfen Lied, and so on. Just click on the Review button along the top bar and navigate your way down to the Anime section.
My goal with these is simply to give you a quick overview of what to expect with the show, and to perhaps help decide if it’s worth watching. At this point, I am basically choosing shows at random as I am too far removed from the culture to know what to look for. If you happen to have some suggestions, perhaps in the form of a website or podcast you follow, by all means let me know.
Welcome to a new year of In An Age.
I am going to skip armchair prognosticating and instead focus on some goals/long-term plans. You may or may not have noticed that in my “Currently” sidebar, I have been listing more things than simply videogames. Since I have a website and write game reviews already, I figure that I may as well belt out a few words about what I thought about the books and anime I have been consuming too. There are plenty of more dedicated anime/book review websites out there though, so I am sticking to a “Micro-Review” format that is basically 1-3 paragraphs to give you the gist of what I thought about the series and whether you might like it.
I have not yet decided whether these “off-topic” Micro-Reviews will hit the front page, so to speak. On the one hand, you folks are here because you see some redeeming feature in my various pontifications, so why not have some more? On the other hand, this started out as a gaming blog and I wouldn’t want to… you know, fuck it. This shit will hit the Front Page when I feel like it, and won’t when I don’t. Nobody paints Baby into a corner.
Other than that nonsense, I expect to continue playing WoW and PlanetSide2 for the next several months, along with possibly checking into Dust 514 (now that have a PS3). I have Steam games coming out the ass, so there will be plenty of those sort of reviews/impressions coming too. And, of course, there will be plenty what I enjoy best: arguing with people over the internet.
If you liked what you read in 2012, you
ain’t seen nothing yet basically will get more of the same in 2013.