Once again I prove that I’m terrible at keeping up with shows, even when I legitimately like them. Oh well, at least I’m up-to-date on the latest and greatest Manningface moments:
And we can all thank Baka-Raptor for always being sure to keep me abreast of these things (especially since, as far as I’m concerned, the Pro Bowl is a lie).
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, episodes 1-2
Folks kept bugging me to give this one a go – “Oh, you’ll love it! It has incest!” However, being rather unfriendly toward SHAFT shows, and finding the premise distinctly uninspiring, I passed on it until yesterday. I couldn’t tell you why yesterday, but, well, yesterday.
I’m not really sure how I feel about it. The final third of the first episode left me completely cold, and the rest of the episode didn’t exactly enthrall me. The second episode was better, but I still can’t quite make up my mind. I don’t think I like it overall, but there’s some kernel in there that will at least impel me to watch the third episode. That kernel is likely the dynamic betwixt Sasami and her brother. I am simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by it; I feel as though we’re having our delight in the incest trope deliberately made uncomfortable, as the brother isn’t blandly decent-looking… hell, we never see his face at all. He’s basically the self-insert harem lead with a cute imouto character stripped down even further visually to allow the male audience to put themselves in his shoes. But in lacking a face, it casts a distinctly unsettling pall over the whole thing. So much of our recognition of other people comes from seeing their faces, so there’s something off-putting when you can’t see a person’s face.
I’m also deeply amused by the continued denial of panty-shots in instances where gravity would seem to demand it.
Sailor Moon R, episodes 3 – 25
Whoa, wait, how the hell did I watch that many episodes?! I mean, I knew I’d watched a lot this past week, but that figure is surprising to me when I checked it; mind you, it was easy to not realize that since the numbering convention I was operating with just picked up right where the first season left off, so episode one = episode forty-seven.
Anyway, Doom Tree (Makaiju in the original, but some things from my experience watching the dub die pretty hard) arc wrapped up completely and fully into the Black Moon arc. The Doom Tree arc ended in a silly fashion and was pretty cheesy at the end, but as a stalling mechanism its perfectly fine. Filler arcs often completely derail the storyline for the material that gets adapted after it, but that isn’t really the case here. Having Usagi and the rest recover their memories during this arc versus the Black Moon one makes no difference ultimately.
So, Chibi-Usa falls from the sky, the Black Moon clan shows up, and shit goes down! Chibi-Usa is hilarious in her initial appearance; she’s quite the piece of work, and I find it delightful. She is absolutely a brat, but I love how devious she is… and, well, with how stupid Usagi is here, I can’t exactly blame her for not thinking terribly well of the older girl. Chibi-Usa was much maligned as a character in the old days when most of us knew Sailor Moon through the dub, but I always liked her.
Princess Nine, episodes 1-11
Oh, Princess Nine. I’ve been meaning to watch this show for years, but always wanted to watch it with my mum (who is a massive baseball fan), so I just never got to it. I’m glad I finally did! Princess Nine is a full-throated sports anime – dramatic orchestral BGM, absurd athletic skills, and intense moments where BASEBALL IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. I felt like crying over how ridiculously glorious it was frequently while watching these episodes.
Princess Nine, for those of you unfamiliar, has a pretty simple set-up – the chairwoman of a private girls’ high school decides she wants to start a baseball team to send to Koushien, the big high school baseball tournament in Japan. But, uh oh! Girls aren’t allowed to play! The team slowly forms while chairwoman is tough as nails and plays hardball with the good ol’ boys. Our lead is Ryo Hayakawa, the daughter of an oden bar owner who plays sandlot ball with the men of the neighborhood, and has a killer arm.
Princess Nine reminds me most of Battle Athletes Victory – similar aesthetic, similar adoration of ridiculous hair, and similar overall tone. Ryo’s a lot more likable as a lead from the get-go, though, than Akari was, which is nice. But they are both late-90s seinen anime about girls excelling in athletics, so there is definitely is a similar feeling here.
Princess Nine is interesting in that in looking at it, you can definitely see how tastes have changed since it aired. A seinen sports anime starring girls now features infantilized blobs more often than not, and even the ones that skew less toward fanservice feature characters who are allegedly sixteen but appear to be closer to ten. In Princess Nine, the girls look like high schoolers and older; limbs have muscle, breasts are present. There’s absolutely some fanservice (although not a ton), but I feel less put-off by it since the bodies in-screen are mature – sure, they’re still the bodies of underage girls, but in having them actually look their age (and a couple of them look older), it all feels a hell of a lot less creepy.
Princess Nine leans feminist, as the entire show revolves around the creation of a girls’ baseball team and the fight to be taken seriously and respected as competitors. It also leans so since that fight ends up encompassing a larger goal, of having girls and women taken seriously and as equals in Japanese society, period. In episode eleven, a board member of the association that runs Koushien demands to know why it matters to have girls compete, demands to know why the chairwoman can’t fight for equality somewhere else, since, well, baseball, what difference does it make there? And while the chairwoman’s own motives may not be entirely pure, the message here remains pretty obvious – it may seem that baseball is something silly and not worth fighting for equality in since the effects aren’t wide-reaching, but, well, if it doesn’t matter, then why does everyone want to fight against it so hard, tooth and nail? And once you start letting others tell you what is and isn’t the appropriate place to push for change, you’ve lost the ability to ever cause any change at all.