Gormongous

Phaedrus' Street Crew
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  1. The brief nod to Barenaked Ladies at approximately 1:22:30 is the best thing that Idle Thumbs has done this year. Thank you, Chris (I assume)!
  2. anime

    That's true, the experience of watching it as it aired made Endless Eight much less comprehensible as an artistic endeavor. I've often wondered how much my viewing experience of most anime is altered by the ability to watch (or binge) them at will. I tried a few years back to do a one-episode-a-week rewatch of Evangelion, to get the feel of having to wait, but I gave up because it was boring and also because I already knew that work well enough that I felt the effect was being lost. It's weird to think that Endless Eight works better to binge than to watch piecemeal, but I guess that's the contradiction inherent in a series format that's planned all together, animated and aired separately, and then often watched all together.
  3. anime

    I feel like, among the critical community at least, it's generally been recognized that much of the backlash against the "Endless Eight" arc was performative, a way of signaling to other anime fans that you knew what filler looked like and that you understood how filler could be detrimental to the quality of an anime. I never had the gross overreaction to Endless Eight, but in hindsight I see even more how it was an ambitious and experimental way of doing a time loop in a way that cut no corners and gave small, surprising insights into the slight variations of character behaviors and reactions. Generally speaking, though, most people on the internet who watched it at the time will still blast it for "wasting" eight episodes that could have been used to tell a "real" story (Endless Eight being essential to the setup of the excellent The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya somehow always notwithstanding) and will claim that it made them "quit" KyoAni works for an unspecified period of time.
  4. anime

    I distinctly remember Jotaro starting alone, in jail, in Stardust Crusaders and ultimately gathering a party of a half-dozen others, some of them former enemies of his, in his quest to do the whatever. Like, if you don't enjoy bromance and a lot of fights where one person thinks they've won but then it turns out that they haven't because the other person is cleverer or gutsier, JoJo doesn't transcend that. It's not bad at all, and I've never argued that, but it's definitely solid in its genre roots, and if you don't enjoy that genre it's not going to win you over with style alone.
  5. anime

    As a counterpoint to Twig, I've watched all of the latest JoJo's Bizarre Adventure through Stardust Crusaders and I don't think it's worth your time if it doesn't immediately grab you as something great. There are some fun and interesting twists to the formula, but deep down it's still an extremely rote shounen battles-and-friendship anime, just one that doesn't take itself terribly seriously (while still being perfectly happy to be taken seriously by the viewer) while showing off a lot of sub-Fist of the North Star beefcake. There's a lot of pressure online to watch and enjoy JoJo, and I know from experience that it's hard to ignore, so I'm always willing to raise my voice to say that there are dozens of anime that are better to watch, no matter what your tastes are.
  6. anime

    IMDB is the worst source for anime production credits, sadly. It's usually, as you said, overzealous fans working off of the back of a DVD or pausing the translated credits, both of which can be incomplete or over-generalizing. If I need to double-check production credits for specific episodes in an anime, I tend to use AniDB, which is better-curated than MyAnimeList and AnimeNewsNetwork and has more granularity in how it credits people per episode. According to the AniDB listing, Satoshi Kon is credited with script, storyboards, and direction for episode 5; "composition assistance" (which I haven't really seen before, but I assume means helping on script and/or storyboards) for episode 6; and key frame animation on episode 2. Hopefully you're not collecting everything that Kon did key frame animation on, I imagine that's a pretty long list! I can find no evidence of Otomo's involvement in the 1993 Jojo and I think that that's someone conflating Kon and Otomo, honestly. Anyway, over the last month of anime viewing, I finished Turn A Gundam, which had a predictably Instrumentality-like ending but then had an extremely powerful and emotional epilogue that completely resold me on the series. After that, I finished my watch of Space Runaway Ideon and its two movies. I liked those a lot less: there were intermittently some very clever ideas about humanity's predisposition towards violence and how peace can be achieved in spite of that, but they were hampered by a highly episodic "mecha of the week" format and one-dimensional characters who, by the second movie, openly admitted that there was no rational motivation for their self-destructive escalation. It's actually kind of uncanny how much the second movie, Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked, is a prototype for End of Evangelion, and that's probably where I got most of my enjoyment. Finally, I watched all of Hyouka, KyoAni's 2012 take on the series of mystery novels. Being more serious than most other offerings from that studio, it feels like Hyouka is often overlooked, but I thought it did a great job of using high school slice-of-life trappings to tell a series of extremely low-stakes mystery stories. The initial mystery, an investigation into the meaning of the titular hyouka or "ice cream," is probably the best, although I'm fond of the one about the horror movie because it was one that I was able to solve in advance of the characters, and the second cour of the anime slowly de-emphasizes the mysteries in favor of character moments, finishing with a somewhat abrupt (but not unexpected or precipitous) ending. I enjoyed it immensely, and it was a great palate-cleanser after Ideon. The question, now, is what to watch next? I have a friend pushing me to watch Rozen Maiden, but I was also thinking about Bubblegum Crisis 2040. Those are pretty different anime, but that's just how worldly I am!
  7. anime

    After letting my viewing of it lapse for months, I've been back into Turn A Gundam in a big way. Something that you don't get when you only watch one- and two-cour anime is how many different themes a longer-running series can tackle over the course of its running time. Turn A spends twenty episodes on the fog of war and the inherent factionalism of human beings in times of conflict, then another fifteen on the absurdity of mutually assured destruction and who should have the power to make that call anyway, and now the final fifteen are returning to what I think of as more traditional concerns of Gundam: whether certain people, objects, and ideas are inherently violent or not, and whether you risk repeating history more by educating people about past atrocities or keeping them ignorant of them. Except for the last phase, these themes have been remarkably subtle and underplayed, mostly coming through the well-realized characters and the intricate politics of the show. I have to admit, I always suspected that I might enjoy a full-length Gundam series, but Turn A has really knocked my socks off. Except for a tedious interlude about an adventurer who was searching for a way to travel to the moon, it succeeds with almost all of the many ideas that it tries: invasion of a relatively primitive society by technologically advanced colonists; the process of discovering and using lost technology; fighting a guerrilla war against technologically and numerically superior forces; nuclear disarmament; an ancient civilization built around an abandoned space elevator; moon colonies and their society; and, perhaps the greatest achievement, a fascinating prince-and-pauper dynamic between the two main female characters, Dianna Soriel and Kihel Heim. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Japan has a different (and largely superior) take on doppelgangers, when Kokoro Connect was such a good story about body-swapping and Golden Time's amnesia plot wasn't terrible, but still. The queen of the moon and the daughter of a mine owner switch places on a lark, during one of the filler episodes, and then are forced to maintain their new roles for most of the ensuing episodes, and they both learn and grow so much from the expectations and relationships that hitherto surrounded the other that they've both become my favorite characters in the show by a long shot. Even if Turn A Gundam continues its apparent trajectory in the final six episodes towards typical anime "gee whiz wouldn't it be great" pacifism and falls back on platitudes about compromise, communication, and humility, the sequence of events that led a queen to learn about the kind of life of her own choosing she could lead and for a young woman to learn how to wield authority even when it's not given to her has made this one of my favorite sci-fi anime of all time... You could say that I'm over the moon, even.
  8. Maybe, but I kept track of my kills and roughly three hundred and twenty people died in the course of me putting down a palace coup, which is hardly outrageous by historical standards. Certainly, it's one thing to get scolded by a reclusive inventor or a young girl, but former generals and admirals shouldn't be giving me that shit, not when they're likely responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people themselves. It really felt like the developers speaking through their mouths, and I resented it as a player, even though I understood it in the abstract.
  9. I enjoyed the game itself a lot, I just wish that I could have turned off the mandatory cutscenes full of finger-wagging. I understand that the writing in the sequel and the DLCs is less overt at chiding the player for having too much fun with the killy bits, so maybe I'll play them someday and it'll improve my opinion of the original with it.
  10. Sure, but we're talking about negative signals and whether the game communicates that killing people messily is wrong, not whether those negative signals are "satisfyingly logical."
  11. Every single voiced character in the game berates you, some repeatedly, for choosing excessively lethal play. Hardened soldiers, who say at the beginning of the game that the throne must be retaken at any cost, verbally recoil at your kill count roughly halfway through the game, begin begging you to kill less people, and call you evil and a monster by the end. There is also a mechanical effect where you don't begin the final mission in stealth if you've gone for the high-chaos route. I agree that, mechanically, Dishonoured bends over backwards to accommodate the player's chosen style of play, but narratively and thematically, its developers take extreme pains to communicate to you that a high-lethality style is the wrong way to play their game. That's fine, whatever, a lot of games have "saint and asshole" morality systems because good and evil are too passe, but when you make a game positively filled with creative and unique toys of death and then explicitly call me a monster for wanting to use them a lot, yeah, I have a beef.
  12. Yeah, it's really fun like that. The only downside is that there's a lot of finger-shaking from the devs if you go for a high-violence, high-chaos route, but it doesn't impact your game mechanically.
  13. anime

    Triple post, because I like talking about anime on the forums as much as the slack! This past week, I finished Show by Rock!! #, which I'd picked up as a pick-me-up from the doldrums of watching too many old and long-running series. It was a really good time! The first season, minus the sharp sign, was a lighthearted Sanrio joint that mostly focused on gags about the music industry, gags about music genres, and heartfelt teamwork between band members. It was cute and fun but not essential, you know? Like most anime out there. As I said on a recent Key Frames episode, the second season is radically different, almost as if it's the result of a blank check or open-ended mandate from corporate leadership. A universe-destroying threat is set up and executed in the first five minutes of the first episode, then rolled back through time travel so that the protagonists can try to prevent it... by growing together as a band. On the way, they participate in a bake sale, a water sports tournament, a sentai show, an interplanetary voyage, a trip to Hawaii-but-not-Hawaii, and of course multiple battles of the bands. The best gags from the first season are still in use: the ludicrous pretensions of the visual kei band, the cod wisdom and grandeur of the traditional Japanese band, the sickly-sweet infighting of the idol group... I don't know. It's really interesting that Sanrio is doing all these anime like Aggretsuko and Show by Rock!! that have these hard, self-undermining edges to them, but unfortunately I don't think that those edges make them any more recommendable to people who already aren't into cute animals and/or rock band shenanigans. I enjoyed myself immensely, even as the end of Show by Rock!! # leveled out into a fairly predictable "play music and support your friends to defeat the bad thing, which isn't actually bad so much as misunderstood" finale. Who knows what's next? Maybe Gudetama? Maybe not. Anyway, we'll always have dumb jokes like this:
  14. Blade Runner 2049

    Remember when it was a plot point in Man with the Golden Gun that Christopher Lee had three nipples and Roger Moore had to get a fake nipple to infiltrate the organization? The seventies were truly the height of filmmaking...