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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First impressions roundup: Winter 2018

Woohoo, all the first episodes of the season have aired! My life got a bit busier after all the snow cleared near me and I had to go back to work and catch up on some personal things, but I’m (mostly) all caught up now.

There’s some interesting stuff this season after all – I was skeptical, and since last season was so phenomenally good and spoiled us all, I went into Winter 2018 with low expectations. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some entries and let down by others. I didn’t get a chance to blog about all my first impressions, but here’s a quick rundown of the shows I watched and how I felt about ’em.

Continue reading First impressions roundup: Winter 2018

Darling in the Franxx: franxxly, I don’t like it!

Studio Trigger’s Darling in the Franxx is finally here to serve up angsty, horny mecha action. The anime is set in a world ravaged by big blue beasts called klaxosaurs who can apparently only be defeated by robots piloted by male-female pairs called parasites. Hiro, an orphan mecha pilot-in-training, meets Zero Two, a mysterious pink-haired pilot known as “The Partner Killer.” Hiro, disillusioned with the institution he was indoctrinated into, throws himself into Zero Two’s crazy world despite many red flags that she’s probably not the best person to be teaming up with.

Episode one throws a lot at you. You get a whole bunch of vague lore about the FRANXX and birds, and plenty of in-universe jargon like “pistel” and “parasites.” We also meet a lot of characters who, for right now, don’t pique much interest in me.

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My chief concern with this show right now is its main characters. Zero Two is obviously the more intriguing of the two – she’s a “problem child” mecha savant with mysterious horns and a weird penchant for licking herself and boys she just meets. I worry, though, that she’s just an amalgam of crazy anime girl tropes mashed together to make good “waifu” material. Between her overt horniness and the yandere-bait shots of her covered in blood, her character feels a little too on the nose. A weakness I could see this show having is relying too much on their hot anime girl lead. Hopefully this isn’t one of those anime that feels like the creators made up a really, really hot main character and then just haphazardly built a story around them (I’m looking at you, DanMachi).

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Hiro, on the other hand, is…well, boring. His look is generic, his orphan backstory is generic, and his “I’m just gonna thrust myself into this situation because Plot” attitude is generic. His overall blandness is part of what makes me worry that Darling in the FranXX will be a one-(wo)man show with Zero Two.

There’s also a lot of…questionable content here. I know Studio Trigger’s thing™ is oversexed and over-the-top stories, but this is still decidedly A Bit Much. I mentioned the licking already, but on top of that we’ve already had a classic “pervy-old-man-sexual-harasses-someone-for-the-lulz” scene, a gratuitous scene of Zero Two naked, weird questionable camera angles showcasing girls’ plug suit butts, and a robot with boobs. Yikes!

I’m probably in the minority here, but I was not particularly impressed with the beginning of Darling in the FranXX. It has the potential for a genuinely interesting story, but right now, it feels like I’ve seen these themes explored in better, less cringe-y ways. If you were one of the many who eagerly awaited this and enjoyed it, then hell yeah, I’m glad the show delivered for you. As for me…well, so far it looks like it’s emphatically not my cup of tea.

Additional thoughts:

  • This reminds me of a hornier Eureka Seven. Maybe like, if Aquarion and Eureka Seven had a really boring baby.
  • Are all the male/female pilot pairings sexual? And do the pairings have to be male/female? Are there any m/m or f/f pilot pairs? Also, do trans people exist in this world? How do they fit into these pilot pairings? As a gay™, I have to wonder…
  • The male characters’ uniforms are really ugly. Look at those shorts. It’s borderline leiderhosen territory.
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  • The visuals didn’t particularly impress me, but I do like the transitions into 16:9 aspect ratio. I remember Erased using a similar style in some scenes.
  • Even though he does it in a gross way, I gotta say, old-robot-man did deliver a pretty sick burn there.
  • I appreciated the unique way Zero Two and Hiro met despite the shoe-horned nudity, but they lost me once they went into dumb anime “you’re a pervert stealing my underwear~” territory.
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    Still, it did look pretty cool.
  • So um. Did Naomi die? That was her pod-thing that crashed, right? Hiro yells her name and is worried, but then doesn’t dwell on the fact that he probably just watched his ex-partner die for very long…
  • I’m going to keep watching partially because I know this one’s going to be talked about a lot, and because I want to know what the opening sequence for the show will look like (heh)

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After the Rain: directed by Woody Allen, apparently

After the Rain tells the story of highschooler Akira and her crush on a grown-ass forty-something-year-old man. It’s airing in this season’s noitaminA programming block, and since I always make it a point to check their shows out, I watched the first episode of this.

Frankly, I was very disappointed.

When I first read the summary of the show, I was hoping it would be more about Akira having a hopeless crush on someone she can never rightfully be with, and about her growing and learning that sixteen year olds aren’t meant to be with forty year olds. Unfortunately, episode one leads me to believe that these two are actually going to start a relationship, and that the show is going to pretend like that’s normal and healthy and fine.

The anime sets Akira up as being ~more mature~, as if establishing her as above her classmates will make us forget she’s a minor about to be taken advantage of by someone almost twice her age and her boss. That’s like, double power abuse right there. Since Akira is the one pursuing Kondo and not the other way around I guess their romance is supposed to be “excusable,” but uh, he’s still an adult who should know better. I’m sure the show will at least address the taboos of it all to a degree, but I’ve got a feeling that it’s gonna go the Woody Allen “dating minors is chill” route. I don’t have time for all that. I’m already watching one trashy problematic romance this season, so I’ll just pass on this one.

I know, I know, this is a very lazy, biased “review.” I don’t really have many constructive things to say about the merits of the show. Yeah, symbolism and pretty animation but…if I can’t get behind the actual story and characters off the bat, then that’s kinda the end of that.

Additional Thoughts

  • I don’t really like the character designs here. Akira is too pointy. I hate it when anime characters are pointy. (this is totally Good and Unbiased criticism)Screenshot (397).png
  • Kondo is ugly. I was hoping that this would at least give me some DILF action…Screenshot (398).png
  • The angry toad lady up there talks shit on Kondo and says he’s “destined to be a manager forever,” even though she is apparently still a waitress and hasn’t even gotten into a manager position???
  • Akira’s customer service sucks. She must get really shitty tips.
  • The dramatic plate drops are Too Much. Way to be subtle here, show!
  • I would never share a recorder with a small child I just met. That shit is probably so slobbery. If Akira doesn’t even have the sense to wipe the piece down before using it/giving it back to the kid, she definitely shouldn’t be tryna fuck yet.
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  • Oh my God, I hate that she exudes pure thirst. Every time her face gets all sparkle-y and blush-y I whispered “calm down, bitch” to my computer screen. This is too much. He has a kid. Also, you are a kid. Stop.
  • “Akira, what’s your type?” Ugly, apparently.
  • Okay but Kondo hiding behind a corner from his co-workers was Relatable.
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  • Screenshot (414).pngTONE IT DOWN, KIDDO!!!! Also, extra ew because literally just a few minutes before this happens it’s established that Kondo has some rank B.O.
  • Mean waitress’s face pretty much sums up how I feel about this experience. I’m side-eyeing the heck out of Akira, and I’ll be side-eyeing Kondo if he decides to hook up with a child.

Kokkoku episode one has potential, but it ain’t there yet

Kokkoku tells the story of a dysfunctional family filled with NEETs and loners who get their worlds rocked when two of their clan get abducted. The kidnappers tell them they have thirty minutes to pay the ransom, but there’s no way they can get the money together in time. Luckily, Gramps has a magic rock that can freeze time and enter its users into the world of Stasis to help them get their loved ones back.


Continue reading Kokkoku episode one has potential, but it ain’t there yet

Unique Blogger Award – My first blog award!!!!

Moyatori over at Moyatorium nominated for the Unique Blogger Award, which I’m super excited about! I’ve really been enjoying their anime posts, especially their Juuni Taisen review (I was starting to think I was the only person that actually finished that show, haha). So thank you, and I hope everyone else checks their blog out – it’s good stuff!

This is my first blogger award, I blush

~The Rules~

  1. Display the award!
  2. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. (Try and include a little bit of promotion!)
  3. Answer the questions they’ve written for you!
  4. Nominate 8-13 bloggers and give them three questions in the spirit of sharing love and solidarity within our blogging family!

~My Questions~

  • Why did you choose the avatar you have? 

    I had wanted to make a blog for a while, and when I played Doki Doki Literature Club a month or so ago I really wanted to write about the experience, so I just took a screenshot of my girl Sayori, set it as my avatar, and ran with it. 

  • Do you share your blogging experience with people you know in real life? To what extent? 

    Mmm, not really. I tell my boyfriend about it sometimes, haha. Most of my friends aren’t as big into anime as me, which is why I made this blog in the first place – because I wanted to have a place to talk about seasonals and shows I watch, as well as video games I play. So I guess what I’m saying is, there’s not much point in talking about it with them.  I’m also kind of weird about sharing my hobbies. I talk about anime a lot IRL and on my public social media, but I get weirdly anxious about certain things. Like, I genuinely want to write freelance at some point in my life, whether it’s about anime or just entertainment stuff in general, but I get kind of embarrassed to say so, for whatever reason. Long story short, the anime blog is kind of on the down-low for me.

  • Do you think your blogger persona differs from your real life personality? 

    This is a good question. You know, it’s weird, because when I first went in to make a blog, I was gonna try and have a certain shtick going on. Like, I was originally just gonna write about gay anime with my icon/persona set as a cow named Revolutionary Girl Mootena. Which, actually, I still kind of want to do, haha. But then I decided to just use my actual real name and write as me. So, I guess the blogger persona and the actual me are pretty much the same, except that the me on social media never capitalizes her sentences or punctuates properly.

    revolutionary girl mootena
    Here’s my lil drawing of Mootena, in case you were wondering


~My Questions~

  1. If you were to blog about a different subject other than what you blog about now, what would it be?
  2. What’s the scariest movie/anime/tv show/etc you’ve ever seen?
  3. Have you ever watched a movie/anime/tv show/etc that reminded you of home?


To be honest, I’m pretty sure most of the people I would nominate have probably already been nominated, so if you’ve already done it, it’s all good – just know that I really dig your blog! And of course, if you just don’t feel like doing one of these posts, that’s cool, too – just consider it a shout-out or something.

  • Sirius: They do a lot of reviews for anime that that I haven’t seen, so their posts bring new stuff to my attention almost every time.
  • TheSpookyRedhead: I like all the listicles, and plus I gotta give ’em a shout out because I’m a spooky redhead myself 😀
  • FueledBySmiling: preeeeeeeeeeetty sure I already saw them get nominated, but they really do have one of the most unique blogs I’ve seen. I mean, I haven’t seen anyone else do spotlights on their spam folders before. Who knew anyone could make a spam folder so fun?
  • Scott: I dig all the non-review stuff he posts. You write some really interesting stuff, dude!
  • Irina: hehe you’ve definitely been nominated and already did this, so I’m just gonna use this to say that you’re great and thanks for being so welcoming!!
  • Fiddletwix: I don’t think we follow each other so maybe they won’t see this, but I really got a kick out of their Christmas series where they reviewed old cartoon Christmas specials.
  • Marth: I really enjoy their seasonal reviews/posts 🙂