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I'm not saying that anyone has to like it for any reason at all, but I am saying that describing it as "rote shounen battles-and-friendship" is incredibly reductive, especially in part 4, where the "battles" become more about outwitting each other with clever solutions than they do who's more powerful. Especially the last "fight", holy goddamn.

 

That's also true in part 3, but less frequently. The Dio fight is pretty incredible, but it is just "who's stronger". There's a decent amount of stuff up to that point, though, that isn't like that.

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5 hours ago, Roderick said:

Currently well into Endless Eight, which I was taught to fear, but turns out to be 100% enjoyable, not boring and a great time loop story. Did people not have the stomach for that back then? I remember so many folks quitting or getting exasperated by it.

 

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.

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That is straight-up baffling to me. The most shocking thing about Endless Eight, after having built it up in my head as a repetitive endurance run, is the insane level of care that's been put into it. Not a single frame of animation is copied, even though they're [mostly] going through the same events! Every time, everything is slightly different and there are new things to look at. I'm way more interested in this than I would be in a 'new' episode, which so far has been hit and miss. For every time loop or enclosed spaces story, there's a baseball league episode.

 

How you could mistake this for filler is beyond me. Maybe Endless Eight was an Umberto Eco-move to weed out the unworthy followers of Haruhi-ism.

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I think that's a much easier perspective to take now than at the time. Maybe some of the outcry was performative, but I think people are and were much simpler creatures than that: endless eight tested patience that they didn't have. I agree, the variations on a theme are compelling (and the specific kind of tension it plays with is... singular, maybe?), but it was also 3 hours of repeating story beats spread out over almost three months. Even for the minority of viewers with the kind of patience for that, the nuance of difference between each cycle is lost in the wait week-to-week. I don't mean to say I think it was a failed experiment artistically, because I love endless eight. But I don't think it should be baffling why so many people bounced off so hard.

 

FWIW, season 2 of Haruhi was the only season of anime I ever fully watched as it aired. I don't think it's contradictory that I both remember those episodes fondly and also remember my main takeaway emotion being frustration.

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32 minutes ago, dium said:

I think that's a much easier perspective to take now than at the time. Maybe some of the outcry was performative, but I think people are and were much simpler creatures than that: endless eight tested patience that they didn't have. I agree, the variations on a theme are compelling (and the specific kind of tension it plays with is... singular, maybe?), but it was also 3 hours of repeating story beats spread out over almost three months. Even for the minority of viewers with the kind of patience for that, the nuance of difference between each cycle is lost in the wait week-to-week. I don't mean to say I think it was a failed experiment artistically, because I love endless eight. But I don't think it should be baffling why so many people bounced off so hard.

 

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.

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You're right, this might be a failing of my ability to place myself in that 2006 perspective. I watch an episode every other day, and I know what I'm in for. If I were expecting the series to not go through with eight time loop episodes (perhaps because I was lead to believe that Haruhi is a show that attempts to pull the rug under viewers' feet at times), it might indeed be frustrating. Even if the quality of the episodes themselves is evident.

 

Allow me to skip into the realm of manga for moment: last week I read the first publication of Delicious in Dungeon (Dungeon Meshi) and for some reason I'm thinking about it every day. It's very good. Maybe not for a general audience, but if you appreciate a good food manga spoof, this seinen manga is great. It's not the best drawn thing out there, but it hits a weird spot.

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On 12/3/2017 at 11:14 AM, Gormongous said:

 

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.

Thank you for the help, I didn't even know about AniDB, so this is a much better source that I can use in the future. Also yeah, there's no way I could make the effort to watch/buy DVDs of every animator I like based on key animation. There are certainly people who do, mostly notably the guy who runs Anipages, but I have to have some limit.

 

My guess is "composition assistance" meant he told the writer for episode 6 what happened in episode 5, heh.

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Well, because I didn't get enough of watching a "history lesson" anime like Space Runaway Ideon (which was... fine, I don't know), I'm watching the much-maligned AD Police series that was a spinoff of the AD Police OVAs that were a spinoff of Bubblegum Crash that was a continuation/sequel to Bubblegum Crisis. Whew! So far, it's really not good. Its vintage is the late nineties and it's trying mightily to fill similar shoes to moody action dramas like Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star. The problem is that it has no budget and all its characters are raging assholes. In the first episode alone:

  • The protagonist, Sasaki Kenji, uses cash to show that he's old-fashioned, violates police procedure to show that he's a rebel, and endangers a bystander to punish her for a catty comment that he overheard her make... to show that he's an asshole and a misogynist, I guess?
  • Kenji's partner shows up, says that he doesn't like Kenji because he's a jerk (thank heavens they laid that pipe beforehand) and all of his partners die mysteriously, and then goes off to die himself. Kenji is somehow blamed for this.
  • The entire office makes fun of Kenji's inexplicable grief for this dead partner, and his boss puts him on administrative leave for failing to stop the killer robot by himself, even though it later takes five cops working in concert to kill it.
  • Kenji drives his motorcycle (because of course he has a motorcycle) so fast that his arm starts bleeding for some reason, then stands outside a girl's house and watches her play violin, then goes to a bar and starts a fight with a guy who says that he looks sad and tries to buy him a drink.
  • And it ends up the next morning that that guy is Kenji's new partner! Uh oh.

It all feels like a parody of a seinen anime built around a brooding, tortured protagonist, especially the shallow "characterization" that's laid so thick on the ground, and that's not even getting into the extremely poor animation, wherein most fight scenes are crossfaded animation loops with minimal tweening. I didn't expect much of a series based on the cops who are so bad at their job fighting killer robots that the Knight Sabers from the Bubblegum anime need to intervene, but... yeah.

 

EDIT: New partner mentioned old partner, and Keiji said, "There's one thing you'll need to remember if you're going to be my partner," and then he drew his gun, fired it into the ceiling, and left. Later, he uses that gun to coerce a doctor into breaking doctor-patient confidentiality, and the episode finale involves him shooting a perfect doorway in the side of a van with it. This anime is something else.

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Your post prompted me to look up some A.D. Police clips and my god. I had forgotten that this was indeed how (adult) anime looked in the late 80s and 90s. It is so utterly, completely different from how anime looks today! I had just coasted along with its development, but seeing this is a shock. It seems so alien.

 

A nice thing: I've been asked to give a little lecture/speech kinda thingy before a screening of Your Name in January. Hey now!

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3 hours ago, Roderick said:

Your post prompted me to look up some A.D. Police clips and my god. I had forgotten that this was indeed how (adult) anime looked in the late 80s and 90s. It is so utterly, completely different from how anime looks today! I had just coasted along with its development, but seeing this is a shock. It seems so alien.

 

Yeah, jumping back to old nineties-era stuff is a bit of a shock. In hindsight, it's obviously a transitional stage between the flat, angular, high-detail styles of the eighties and the soft, rounded, representational styles of the naughties, but it's really rough to look at these lanky, boneless figures with their angular, over-shaded hair and clothes. AD Police seems closest in kin to Outlaw Star, but its low moments remind me of Blue Gender, which is the gold standard for the ugliness of this era.

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5 hours ago, Roderick said:

A nice thing: I've been asked to give a little lecture/speech kinda thingy before a screening of Your Name in January. Hey now!

 

Your Name in January is the hotly anticipated sequel to Your Lie in April

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If you ever wanted to watch a version of Blade Runner that is four and a half hours long, set in a stunningly generic vision of a futuristic city, and told from the perspective of Deckard's sullen, ineffectual, and violence-prone partner, then AD Police is the anime for you. Otherwise, I don't know why anyone would bother. This is my first one-out-of-ten anime in almost seven years, and it earns every non-star.

 

Eat shit and die, AD Police.

 

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I was going to write up the five best anime I watched in 2017 (only one of which is technically from 2017) but instead I posted it on my long-defunct media criticism blog, so... enjoy!

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Read it!

 

I've come out at the other end of Endless Eight, and it was delightful through and through. Watching new episodes felt like wrapping myself in a warm, comfortable blanket: I knew what I was getting, I was interested in the minutiae and sure I'd enjoy it. At the start of the final episode I finally guessed how it would end, which was fun. This whole thing made me think about how pleasant it is to see something deeply familiar in structure, yet created slightly differently. It's the Teletubbies-effect. Repetition isn't just for babies, it appeals to us as well on some deep level.

 

And in the deepest irony - looking at the historic people who desired 'new' episodes of Haruhi rather than the Endless Eight extravaganza: the following three episodes were new and very boring. An ill-conceived three- or even four-parter about filming a school movie. Man, this show is the worst sometimes. Whenever it tries to do slice of life, it's just utterly boring by the grace of the sf-stuff being so much more appealing. After Endless Eight, a regular old school life arc feels like a dud.

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Because Reyturner and I are rewatching all of the Monogatari Series as part of a podcast project, I've been in a rewatch mood lately. The most recent thing I've rewatched is both cours of Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, a send-up of isekai anime where a loser dude named Kazuma (or Kazutrash or Crapzuma) gets sent to a fantasy world where he is part of a misfit adventuring party that never leaves the starting zone and barely manages to accomplish anything. It starts out as a fairly straightforward (although acid-tongued and quick-witted) parody of RPG conventions and anime power fantasies, but once the core cast of Aqua the dim-witted goddess, Megumin the chuunibyou mage, and Darkness the masochist knight is assembled around Kazuma, the comedy largely shifts to him being a long-suffering (and dirty-minded) straight man to the broad and extreme dysfunction of his now-daily life.

 

I really can't exaggerate how funny this anime is. There's so much to enjoy: Aqua's haughtiness repeatedly shifting to snot-nosed pleading whenever she encounters any setback, Darkness staying with the party out of a love of the humiliation that comes from their collective incompetence, Megumin passing out after casting the only spell she knows because it uses up all her mana and she refuses to learn any other ones, Kazuma's laziness and selfishness making him only intermittently aware of how everyone hates his perverted bullshit... The second cour makes the suspect decision to move away from the inherent humor of trapping the party in the starting zone and in extreme poverty, but the glimpses of the wider world that later episodes afford make it largely worth it. It's not for everyone, as dumb and cruel as it can be to its characters, but I was happy to go back and watch it again, so I thought I'd say so here.

 

 

Oh! And I thought to watch it because I finally watched Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, the remake-cum-sequel to the (in)famous 1990 OVA Record of Lodoss War that was based on a series of fantasy novels based on the author Mizuno Ryo's mid-eighties D&D campaigns. It was... average, unfortunately: much of the original OVA's issues come from the highly compressed narrative, so it was nice to see the various characters luxuriate in twenty-seven episodes' worth of time, but the flaws for the source material (particularly the tendency of those characters to behave stupidly, belligerently, or even just randomly because of the original players' motivations) still make it somewhat difficult to watch and enjoy. In particular, the secondary antagonist, an immortal sorceress who's spent centuries sowing chaos and war to prevent any nation in Lodoss from getting the power to cause a cataclysm like the one that destroyed her homeland, ultimately allies with the main antagonist, a dark wizard trying to resurrect the goddess of death and destruction who'll end all life on Lodoss, because she is concerned that the heroes may become too powerful if they succeed in stopping the resurrection. Dude, missing the forest for the trees here!

 

Really, the reasons that I kept watching it were 1) I don't tend to drop anime, no matter how bad; 2) I was laid up with the flu for two weeks at the time; and 3) Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight has what is probably the best OP of all time. It's animated by Nakazawa Kazuto, an insider favorite with anime directors everywhere, and it plays over the haunting song "Kiseki no Umi" by Sakamoto Ma'aya (who voiced a minor character in the show, as well as other great characters like the Major from Ghost in the Shell, Nino from Arakawa Under the Bridge, and Shinobu from the Monogatari Series). Everything about this OP captures the nobility, tragedy, mystery, and adventure that is promised in works of Western fantasy, and I was so totally fascinated by it that I couldn't bear to skip it even once. A friend came over when I was just finishing an episode and I made her watch the OP, which left her stunned to silence... until it cut to the episode proper and we were back to the flat colors, animation shortcuts, and bland dialogue as the norm. Still, it's worth a watch, even as a blurry Dailymotion video.
 

 

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I started watching Yu Yu Hakusho again and it brings me great joy.

 

This show and similar throwback shonen like Inuyasha have this crude vulnerable masculinity aesthetic that really gets me, despite all the dumb shit that they otherwise do. The characters and macro-level story beats all have this shade of romance to them. The show's first big bad, Toguro, has this simple but charming love backstory that serves as his motivation, but you have to keep in mind that this dude is just kind of hilarious looking. I had friends in middle school who would doodle guys that looked like Toguro. This whole show is a weird juxtaposition of things that make it really fun to watch. Though, it's strange how certain characters like fox pretty-boy Kurama are rendered with such strong shades of femininity, and yet all the actual women characters in the show lack any depth at all.

 

latest?cb=20110608160720

 

I'm watching the Funimation dub, which I'm very confident is superior to the original version, even though I've never seen the original version. Funny, considering Yusuke is voiced by Nozomu Sasaki (literally TETSUO from AKIRA) in the Japanese version, and Justin Cook (some 19 year old, at the time) in the English version. The dub is so Funimation in every way, there are so many off the wall references and 4th wall breaks, but I couldn't imagine anyone sounding any different. I say this even for Genkai, who is literally just Frieza the whole show, and Botan, who has a dumb made up British accent.

 

I'm like 70 episodes in at this point, much farther past anything I actually saw as a kid. I was a bit worried because it seems like the general consensus is that the show starts jumping shark after shark past the Dark Tournament saga, but I'm honestly enjoying Chapter Black even more right now. The premise of this saga is that there exists a VHS tape called Chapter Black that is just a compilation of all of mankind's worst atrocities, which actually is compelling to me? It's weird and goofy, something you'd read on like /x/, but this is 1992 and it feels like a really forward-thinking premise to me. Also introduced in Chapter Black is this concept of human psychics and psychic territories, which is... new and inventive? In a show about spirit weapons and fighting. I'm genuinely impressed at how this show basically restructured its fight-scene DNA halfway through.

 

The English-version OP is also for sure top 5 all-time.

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I'm watching Nisekoi because I've watched almost every other show that Shinbou Akiyuki's done with Shaft and I see no reason to stop now. It's a love comedy about two kids from crime families who have to pretend to be dating, even though they hate each other, to avert a gang war, although it's gradually evolving into more of a harem anime. After a rough start with the first couple of episodes, it's actually turned out pretty well, largely on the strength of the secondary characters like Ruri, who encourages her friend to confess to the male protagonist even though he's dating someone because why not, and Seishirou, a woman raised as a man who seems to be in direct conversation with Yuu from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun and other Takarazuka-adjacent character tropes. The love triangle at the center of the story — Raku, the kind and low-key boy; Chitoge, the brash half-American girl; and Kosaki, the shy girl with a crush on Raku — is whatever. There are some good moments with them, a few of which actually made me laugh out loud, but I think they're supposed to be entertaining less for their inherent characteristics and more for the situation that they're in.

 

The stumbling block for me, so far, is the "childhood promise" subplot, where Raku carries around a massive demonic-looking locket that was given to him by a girl whom he liked a decade ago. He doesn't remember her face or name, just that she has a key and that the two objects represent a promise to get married someday. Isn't this part of the plot to Kujibiki Unbalance, the made-up anime that the Genshiken characters are all obsessed with? Anyway, of course both Chitoge and Kosaki have keys from their childhood, but Kosaki's key seems way too big for Raku's lock and the first OP repeatedly shows Chitoge inserting her key into Raku's locket... ahem. This means one of two things: Nisekoi is fine with spoiling its stupid "mystery" from jump, or Nisekoi is faking me out to make that "mystery" more interesting. Either way it pisses me off a little? But either way I'm sure the ultimate message of the show will be that keeping promises is important, but you have to trust your heart in the end, even if it means breaking those promises or hurting someone. I don't know, we'll see.

 

Also, this is unfair but I hate Chitoge's design, especially her stupidly huge bow. What is she, a Touhou character?

Chitoge-nisekoi.png

 

EDIT: I need to reiterate, I'm enjoying this anime. Solid B/B+. It's just easier to nitpick, particularly when the main character carries around a massive demonic-looking locket that a little girl gave him way back when!

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Haven't been doing a ton of anime lately, after the total bliss that was YURU CAMP - an anime event that has left everything in later seasons this year feeling pret-ty uninteresting. The GeGeGe no Kitaro remake was fun enough for a while. I got the feeling Golden Kamuy veered way off track rather soon, I wouldn't be surprised if it fizzles out soon.

 

Currently I'm watching the Netflix screening of Dragon Pilot, which takes some time to take off (it's dragon's disguised as jet planes, get it?), but is starting to get interesting 7 eps in. It's not rekindling my enthusiasm for anime just yet, and I'm mainly watching for review purposes, but it's swell enough. The character design and animation is loose and cute, and though it's the 100.000.000th 'girls doing cool things' story, at least it at no point feels skeezy. This ain't about fan service.

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I hate promoting my content on other sites here, but I've got an OP- and ED-review series called Wednesdays Watching Anime on my personal blog, something that I'll be winding down in the next month or so as I transition to a Mad Men rewatch with a friend, and I'm really proud of my write-up on Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water and the spectre of Hideaki Anno in the fandom. Read it if you like!

 

On 10/17/2018 at 3:49 PM, Roderick said:

I got the feeling Golden Kamuy veered way off track rather soon, I wouldn't be surprised if it fizzles out soon.

 

Golden Kamuy is highly arc-driven and some of those arcs appear to go nowhere, but I think the first cour finishes strong and the second is a good start. We'll see! It's not like they lack for source material.

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I'll be reading that Nadia write-up. Finished Dragon Pilot, and it finishes strongly! Very satisfying show, in the end. Light and breezy, with some terrific design and animation work by BONES.

 

[edit] Read you article, Gormongous. I've not seen Nadia, but that intro sure is enthusiastic. About Anno: I never had a weird relationship with him, as a fan, like the one you describe others as having. It feels very familiar to me, I've seen it in many fandoms, especially the ones that I feel take it too far. Why would one make assumptions about a creator, or foster anger towards them based on a perceived slight? I was knee-deep in Evangelion in my teens, it meant a lot to me, but I didn't even consider projecting anything on its creator(s), if I even was aware of them in the first place. I directed my full attention to the text at hand - the show itself.

 

[Until I'd had my fill. I rarely linger in fandoms after I'm done watching, even moreso nowadays. I haven't been as fanatical about anything as I was about Pokémon and Evangelion back on the cusp of adulthood. The closest thing I experience now is a brief infatuation I indulge in, like a plaything.]

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After the first season I already had the feeling I was kind of done with Golden Kamuy, and seeing the first episode os S2 confirmed it: I kind of hate this show. It has a lot of cool adventuring vibe to it, the Hokkaido setting is great and whenever it's just Sugimoto and Asirpa together, it's fun. But there's SUCH a weird and nasty vibe simmering underneath everything. Whole episodes are devoted to people who all have a strange fascination for boners, and when I just now saw a fashion show of fetish human skin couture, I lost both my appetite and the desire to see anything more of this, ever. Nasty & sickening.

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I finally got around to watching FLCL Alternative yesterday. While it was much better than FLCL Progressive, which leaned way too hard into the "pseudo-scientific lore" and "deliberately exotic and ambiguous imagery" axes of the original OVA series, it still felt just as weirdly lightweight in its themes and their presentation. It's like Motohiro Katsuyuki (best known for Psycho-Pass),  Uemura Yutaka (best known for Saga of Tanya the Evil), and Iwai Hideto (best known for... nothing? He's written for and acted in some live-action horror movies, I guess) had a great idea for the first episode of FLCL Alternative (which is really, truly wonderful, the best thing to come out of this revival) and a good idea for the last episode (which has its charms, sure), and they just had to kill time for the middle four episodes because it has to have six episodes to be FLCL. The aimlessness is really reflected in the adult characters, especially prime minister and the head of the agency, who come off like they're waiting around for the finale from the first episode. Even Haruko's just kind of... there, like she's a permanent fixture of the FLCL world now rather than an agent of chaos in it. Still, the shift in focus from age 12 to 17 and from a single alienated boy to a group of anxious girls was welcome, albeit shifting from well-trodden ground to even more well-trodden ground, and I didn't finish the last episode regretting my time in their world like I did with FLCL Progressive's stupid dueling Harukos and magical Transformer headphones.

 

Overall, the two new versions of FLCL aren't as bad as I was worried that they'd be, but they're still amateurish efforts to copy a work that's unrepeatable, not just because of the level of creative talent that went into it but because the landscape of anime has changed enough to make a trippy mecha adventure as coming-of-age allegory feel... well, rote. It doesn't help that Production IG seems determined to grab these landmark properties like Ghost in the Shell and FLCL and then hand them off to neophyte teams that struggle to make their own voices heard in them. Much better to let them make their own names with new adaptations, like Nomura Kazuya (who made the execrable Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie) is doing with Run with the Wind.

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Well, that was, in a way, wholly to be expected. Whenever you dig up an old success, chances are you won't be able to repeat the magic.

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