Should You Watch Boogiepop and Others? Well, it’s complicated…

This Winter anime season gave us plenty of highly anticipated anime to choose from. We got the long-awaited adaptation of Shonen Jump hit The Promised Neverland, new JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, an adaptation of an early Osamu Tezuka work, and – the series I was most excited for – a special 20th anniversary entry into the Boogiepop canon.

Boogiepop and Others is a surreal psychological horror with supernatural elements thrown in. It’s about an entity, Boogiepop, who lives within a teenage girl. Boogiepop appears when the world is troubled, and believe me when I say this world is TROUBLED! There’s a shady organization drugging and brainwashing people, aliens(?) are popping down to Earth, and another highschool girl is running around in a catsuit and scaring the shit out of her peers…there’s a lot going on. It’s kind of hard to explain.

Which is the thing about Boogiepop. It’s kind of hard to explain…and hard to follow…and sometimes even hard to like.

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Continue reading “Should You Watch Boogiepop and Others? Well, it’s complicated…”

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Volume 1: Holy shit, the Earth is fucked!

They’re here. They’ve invaded. The aliens. They’ve crashed their way into Tokyo and war is surely coming. The government is at a loss as to how to go about preserving mankind, and Japan is thrust into a new and confusing era!

What will happen to the aliens and the people of Tokyo?

Who cares! Inio Asano’s Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction isn’t really a story about aliens. It’s a story about high school girls.

Kadode Koyama and Ouran “Otan” Nakagawa are bored, and aliens are the only things that can spice their lives up. …But wait, nothing is really happening. The aliens are just…there, weak and hanging around, and everyone in Tokyo is going about their normal lives. How will the girls live an interesting life if impending doom isn’t even exciting?

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Continue reading Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Volume 1: Holy shit, the Earth is fucked!”

Sexual Assault in Perfect Blue: How Satoshi Kon’s Horror Classic Thoughtfully Frames A Woman’s Biggest Fear

Trigger warning for sexual assault and rape mention. Not only is Perfect Blue an extremely graphic film, but I will also be relating things in the film to personal experiences with sexual assault and how it affected me, which could be unsettling for some. I’m writing something a little more serious and personal than usual, but I hope you’ll still read along because it’s something that I’ve wanted to write about for quite some time now.

Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue had a limited return to theaters just this past week, and I was lucky enough to be able to get a ticket. This mind-bending psychological thriller about an idol and her obsessive stalker(s) is considered to be an anime film classic for good reason, and seeing it on the big screen reminded me of how great a film it truly is.

Though it seems like Perfect Blue has a relatively simple premise, the movie itself is far from simple. It has many twists and turns, and does an excellent job of placing the viewer in the muddled mind of Mima as she struggles to figure out who she really is versus the person society/her manager/her fans want her to be.

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Mima’s stalker.

To be completely honest, Perfect Blue is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Though it doesn’t have many stereotypical jump scare moments, the themes tackled in this movie shake me to my very core. The reason for that is, well, I can relate to a lot of the scary situations that Mima finds herself in.

I mean, no, I haven’t ever hallucinated an idol version of myself, and I’ve never had anyone systematically murder people who have come in contact with me. I can’t, like, literally relate. But a lot of the underlying themes of Perfect Blue hit me on a personal level that other horror movies have failed to do.

Continue reading “Sexual Assault in Perfect Blue: How Satoshi Kon’s Horror Classic Thoughtfully Frames A Woman’s Biggest Fear”

Ninja Scroll Review: How did this manage to make a ninja with a poisonous vagina SO BORING?

Warning! Ninja Scroll is notoriously explicit, in case you didn’t know, so this review/rant will have mentions of violence and rape, because that’s what Ninja Scroll is all about.

I don’t really know why, but I love watching all those exploitative, gory horror OVAs from the 80s and 90s.

Well, let me specify: I love watching them, but I don’t actually like them.

Strangely (to me, anyways), a lot of anime like A-Kite or Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend are hailed as these cult masterpieces that people genuinely consider to be these genius works of art. I do not think they are genius works of art – I think they’re all hot garbage juice. I think these OVAs are generally overly violent, exploitative messes that are trying too hard to be ~mature~. And yet, though I do not particularly like them, I can’t stop watching them. They’re like anime train-wrecks that I can’t stop streaming.

When it comes to the realm of explicit OVAs, it seems that Ninja Scroll reigns king. I had been avoiding it on purpose, specifically because I knew it was well-loved, and it didn’t feel right to purposely hate-watch and unleash my anger on it.

…but, then my boyfriend wanted to watch it, so I was like, >:) okay let’s gooooo!

All that being said, there’s obviously going to be bias here. I’m not even trying to hide it. Please don’t yell at me for being biased. I know I am. And I know that people fucking love Ninja Scroll, but I…well, gee, guys, there’s a lot wrong here. I do love watching people get sliced in half and all that, but…

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Kagero deserves so much better…

Continue reading Ninja Scroll Review: How did this manage to make a ninja with a poisonous vagina SO BORING?”

Bloggin’ on Blogging: What Should We Be Reviewing In A Review?

I don’t usually write series reviews. I’ll write about a series or do a quick first impression post or something like that, but I haven’t done many full reviews. Part of that is because, well…I don’t finish that many series. If I’m not hooked, I’ll drop it pretty quickly. When I do finish a series, I’m usually not that compelled to write about them.

Another reason I don’t write a lot of reviews is because they can feel really stale. At least, when I write them, they do. It’s hard to write about a series objectively, and I usually get bogged down by boring technical nonsense.

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Reviews can feel like homework! Booooo

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Quiet Intensity – A Look At The Powerful (Yet Subtle) Sound Design of Hanebado!

Sound design is often overlooked by the average viewer and critic alike when it comes to anime. Which, hey, is understandable – anime is a visual medium, right? Naturally we’re going to focus more on animation and animators as opposed to sound. Sure, we might take note of voice acting, and we all know that a great soundtrack (or lack thereof) can make or break a series, but we tend to overlook a good, effective soundscape.

One thing I learned during my time taking film classes is that, whether we notice it or not, sound is one of the most important things when it comes to creating a movie or series. Most people are actually more likely to watch something that has bad visuals but sounds okay than they are to watch something that has great visuals but sounds like shit. Despite how important sound is to our taste, though, we’re far more likely to rant and rave about beautiful animation (or shitty animation, for that matter) than we are to praise a good soundscape.

Which brings me to Hanebado!. It seems we can all agree that the series is gorgeous. It’s beautifully animated, the lighting is stunning, and the attention to detail is on-point. You see beads of sweat being flung from players’ bodies, the clench of a player’s thigh muscles when they go for a jump, and even dust particles can be seen floating across the screen. It feels like you could take a screencap at literally any moment & come away with something beautiful.

(…which not only makes it easy on the eyes but also easier for me to find screencaps to put together with my posts…)

There was something else that really struck me about Hanebado!, though. You’ve probably figured out what I’m gearing up to talk about by now – the sound design. Hanebado!’s opening episode crafts a quietly intense atmosphere with its minimal (yet effective) soundscape.

Continue reading “Quiet Intensity – A Look At The Powerful (Yet Subtle) Sound Design of Hanebado!

[Insomnia Views] Fake, the gay cop OVA

Finished at: 2:27 a.m.
Summary: The OVA serves as a bonus stand-alone story for the manga, which follows American cops Dee Laytner and Randy MacLean as they fight crime and flirt on each other. The anime features the two going on vacation to England together. Dee intends to use the trip to get into Randy’s pants, but Randy just wants to enjoy some peace and quiet. Turns out they’re both beat – they end up finding a dead body in the lake by their hotel and have to get back to detective work. …that doesn’t stop Dee from constantly trying to fuck Randy, though.
MAL Rating: 6.64
Is this just, like, the gay You’re Under Arrest? I would say yes, except that You’re Under Arrest is already the gay You’re Under Arrest.

Soooo, I decided to take my chances on a yaoi OVA on a sleepless night not too long ago.

Or would you call it a BL OVA?  I don’t understand the differences between shounen-ai, yaoi, and BL. Are they all the same? I thought porn was yaoi, and shounen-ai was not porn? But then again, the term shounen-ai is apparently used for weird shotacon stuff. And I’ve seen anime & manga that didn’t have explicit sex in it be filed under the yaoi genre, too… I’ll just go with calling it BL. I think that’s a catch-all term, yeah? Or maybe it’s something else entirely? Shit.

Whatever. Anyways.
Continue reading “[Insomnia Views] Fake, the gay cop OVA”

[Citrus Finale Review] Okay, okay, maybe Citrus is just bad

Citrus is like, half good. When it’s fun, it’s fun, and sometimes it’s even close to being touching and poignant, but gets drowned out by trashy lesbian drama before it can ever reach the point of being, well, fully good. The finale perfectly encapsulates this issue of being so close, yet so far.

Since I run the risk of repeating everything I’ve said in all my other Citrus posts, I’m going to try to keep this mostly to the last episode.

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Very subtle.

Continue reading “[Citrus Finale Review] Okay, okay, maybe Citrus is just bad”

[Mid-season review] Citrus is good…kind of? Sort of? Maybe?

You can tell a lot about what kind of yuri fan you are by whether or not you were excited about Citrus. If your taste is a little more sophisticated (a.k.a., your favorite yuri isn’t Sakura Trick), you were probably disappointed that this super fetishistic manga was one of the Lucky Few yuri to recieve an anime adaptation.  On the other hand, if your appeal to yuri is strictly, “I wanna see some boobies touch,” you were probably pretty hyped for this one.

Or, you were somewhere in the middle, like me. I wanna see some boobies touch, but like, in a more ~sophisticated~ way.

But I’m desperate for content so I’ll take whatever the Gay Anime Gods are willing to throw me. It’s like, I want a full-bodied four-course yuri meal with a diverse range of flavors, but instead I’m getting a Taco Bell party box – still fun and satisfying, but it’ll really make you hate yourself for consuming so much of it.

 

I don’t actually dislike Citrus. I’m actually really, really enjoying it, despite all of its pesky issues like romanticizing abuse and swerving pretty darn close into sister-fucker anime territory. That stuff is where the “hating yourself for watching” feeling comes in.

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Guess who her first kiss is going to be with? That’s right, her new little sister. It’s THAT kinda anime.

Warning!! This post contains spoilers up to episode 6, and a not-very-spoilery screenshot from episode 7. Be careful in there, kids!

Continue reading “[Mid-season review] Citrus is good…kind of? Sort of? Maybe?”

Twilight of a new journey in Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho episode 2

I am in love with the way this anime looks. When I wrote about episode one, I focused a lot on the directing and the different ways the framing of shots emphasized the character’s feelings. Episode two is equally beautiful and well directed, but this time I’d like to take a closer look at setting, lighting, and shadows, and the ways they complement the show’s mood and tone.

The first half of this episode takes place in a warm bathing of twilight. Twilight can represent ambiguity, or a wavering attitude. In these scenes, Mari is starting to doubt Shirase’s plan to go to Antarctica, and with good reason. Will they really let a couple of highschoolers onboard? Does Mari really have what it takes to raise all the money she needs? Can they really get away with missing school? Do they even have what it takes to survive in Antarctica? The sun is starting to set on Mari’s naive optimism, and the chances of them actually being able to achieve their dream are getting dimmer.

Twilight can also symbolize a transition from childhood to adulthood, something that’s also fitting here. The fact that these questions are being raised about Shirase’s plans means that the two are being forced to face reality, and facing realities usually leads to characters maturing. Right now, Mari and Shirase are naive enough to fall for an ad involving sex work, but they are wising up as they start to learn that there will be more to getting to Antarctica than just raising money. They’re young, but are approaching the twilight of their youth, as well as the onset of adulthood and maturity. After all, the feeling that her youth is escaping her of is part of the reason why Mari is so eager to go on an adventure in the first place, and, somewhat ironically, the events leading up to said journey will cause her to grow up and learn a lot along the way.

Sundown also comes with harsh shadows and dramatic lighting, which makes it the perfect time for Mari and Shirase’s first fight. Nothing says moody like nice, warm sunset lighting. Shirase, agitated that Mari is pointing out holes in her plan, rushes off in a huff, leaving Mari to call out after her. Of course, Shirase knows Mari is right (that’s why it hurts her so much), and returns to her, sulking and shadowed in a way that reads, “you’re right, I’m sorry, I’m embarrassed.”

This moody atmosphere and lighting also helps emphasize Hinata’s sense of longing when she observes Shirase and Mari from inside her store. Although she doesn’t exactly say so here, you can tell that working instead of going to school has left her feeling lonely. She’s missing out on a lot of interactions with peers. Here, the twilight represents a change for her, as well. Finally, thanks to Shirase and Mari, she’ll be able to spend time with people her age and have some fun instead of just working and studying her youth away.

…By now, you might be saying, “Jenn, relax! These scenes are all happening after school, after all, so the sun naturally has to be setting, so chill with your symbolism talk.” To which I would respond, “look, I went to film school, buddy, and there’s no way I’m not going to read into every single piece of information a scene is giving me about lighting and setting!!!!”

In all seriousness, though, part of what makes good film/television/anime so good is that it can take even practical, obvious settings like, “this is taking place after school so the sun’s going down” and use the moods associated with that time of day to bring out other themes and symbols latent in the story.


I want to briefly touch on lighting in other scenes, as well. I’m not kidding when I say I absolutely love how this show looks, and it’s honestly difficult not to gush about every single frame in every single scene.

Here, we see other ways the show uses light to emphasize its characters, whether it simply be to highlight their plan-making or to give them a sense of isolation by having them be the only things lit in a dark, expansive, empty frame.

For the other half of the episode, the nighttime city setting helps to emphasize senses of danger, excitement, and wonder. What a great place to have Mari feel her youth in motion!
Unlike previous scenes, here, the girls are all dwarfed by their surroundings and the sense of isolation is gone. They’re facing obstacles and other explorers here, and the city makes them (and their ambitions) feel smaller.

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We also get another sneaky No Game No Life poster. I hope these subtle cameos happen every episode to the point that there’s just a random Shiro etched into some snow in Antarctica.

I’m very much looking forward to the next episode – luckily, my busy schedule made me put off watching episode two for so long that episode three is just around the corner! 🙂

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