Anime Review: ‘Sasami: Magical Girls Club’

Sasami: Magical Girls Club. Directed by Takamoto Nobuhiro. Starring Mana Ogawa, Himeko Shimura, and Momoko Hatano. AIC Spirits Work Collaboration: BeSTACK. English language version by FUNimation. 26 episodes (approx. 640 minutes). Rated TV-PG.

What a weird little anime.

Where to start? The highly successful Tenchi Muyo! franchise is one of the best-known of the so-called “harem comedies” that came out of the 1990s; in fact, some consider it the original harem comedy (though it is not strictly speaking the earliest), or at least the codifier of the genre’s conventions. The franchise includes manga, light novels, OVA series, television shows, audio dramas, and probably other stuff, most of which are independent of one another. Because its history is convoluted and there isn’t really a central “canon,” trying to get a handle on Tenchi Muyo! is decidedly confusing.

I am not deeply knowledgeable of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise, but near as I can tell, it began with an OVA series that appeared in 1992 (OVA means straight to video, which doesn’t have the stigma in Japan that it has in the U.S.). Additional OVAs followed on its heels, with a fourth slated to appear later in 2016. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched the first OVA in the FUNimation dub: it’s awesomesauce for six episodes, featuring lightsaber duels, space battles, humongous mecha, miniature black holes, pocket universes, and explosions.

But after that, it settles down into harem mode, and then it pretty much sucks. Continue reading “Anime Review: ‘Sasami: Magical Girls Club’”

Like, Dude.

Featured image: “Nocturne Travel” by Moonshen.

I’m having to re-watch some episodes of the anime I’m reviewing, so the review is taking longer than I expected. Probably up tomorrow.

I’m also moving next week, so it’s likely I’ll disappear for a few days. Never fear, I’m still working on Jake and the Dynamo, and I have other reviews and posts in store.

FUNimation Partners with Crunchyroll

In the world of anime fandom, this is really big news.

hope that it is also good news, but that remains to be seen. I don’t follow the politics of fandom, but I sometimes hear murmurs of discontent with FUNimation. However, I personally have been generally happy with Crunchyroll, the anime streaming service, though I recently let my subscription lapse for economic reasons. A few years ago, Crunchy seemed to be mostly a motley collection of obscure titles and hentai crap, but more recently, I’ve been really impressed as they’ve added more and more classic titles to their catalogue.

In fact, I finally bought my subscription when they picked up a complete set of Cardcaptor Sakura, the inexplicably popular and undeservedly influential magical girl story from CLAMP about an innocent little girl trapped in a world full of perverts. But I’ll talk about that show and why I detest it with a passion at another time. Continue reading “FUNimation Partners with Crunchyroll”

J&tD Delayed

And just for a quick update, I am currently working a night shift, and next week I’ll be moving and preparing to start school. Chapter 19 of Jake and the Dynamo is drafted, but my writers’ group informs me that it’s not ready to go. As you could likely guess from the end of chapter 18, it’s mostly an action sequence (like about every other chapter, by design).

The action sequences take me longer to get ship-shape than the other parts, so I’ll probably let it percolate for at least a week while I work on chapter 20. As mentioned before, I’d like to work on getting my buffer back, so even though I managed to race out chapter 18 last week, I’m going to put this officially on hiatus. For real this time.

‘Candid Slice’ on Feminism in Anime

I stumbled across a brief essay on mahou shoujo anime by someone named Heather at a site called Candid Slicein which Heather toots her own horn about her accomplishments and compares herself to magical girls. It’s a fluff piece, but I decided to link it anyway. I don’t know who Heather is or what she does, so I have no particular comment about that, but I do have something to say about how she interprets anime.

She has her comments laid out in a series of bullets, so I will write responses in the same fashion.

1. Magical Girls Are Chosen

I could feel the magic bubbling up inside me, and whenever I saw an opportunity to help someone, even in a small way, I’d bounce over and do my best — just like a magical girl.

And you were very humble about it, too. Heather goes on from there to praise herself for choosing to get involved in her current life’s work, rather than waiting for opportunity to come along. So she’s a go-getter, and that’s great. Continue reading “‘Candid Slice’ on Feminism in Anime”

How to Shave Like a Real Man

In Jake and the Dynamo, I have a scene in which Jake performs a lengthy and elaborate ritual to shave his face in the morning. I thought it was funny to depict a fourteen-year-old going through so much trouble just to scrape away his peach fuzz, but aside from his abuse of aftershave, his morning ritual is pretty much the same as mine.

I did this in part because I wanted to hearken back to the days when shaving was a tad more difficult and therefore more of a rite of passage for the adolescent male.

This is called “wet shaving.” I first discovered it while perusing The Art of Manliness, where I came upon the article, “How to Shave Like Your Grandpa,” and upon reading, immediately realized I would not be happy until I gave up my ridiculous, modern ways of scraping hair from my face and instead found joy and solace in beautiful anachronism. There’s a tight-knit internet community dedicated to wet shaving, because there’s an internet community dedicated to everything, but it’s enjoyed a resurgence in popularity recently mostly because wet shavers tout it as considerably cheaper than shaving with the disposable cartridge-head razors. Continue reading “How to Shave Like a Real Man”

Aristotle, “On Trolling”

That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and how many its species are, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear. And indeed trolling is said in many ways; for some call ‘troll’ anyone who is abusive on the internet, but this is only the disagreeable person, or in newspaper comments the angry old man. And the one who disagrees loudly on the blog on each occasion is a lover of controversy, or an attention-seeker. And none of these is the troll, or perhaps some are of a mixed type; for there is no art in what they do. (Whether it is possible to troll one’s own blog is unclear; for the one who poses divisive questions seems only to seek controversy, and to do so openly; and this is not trolling but rather a kind of clickbait.)

[Read the rest.]

New Essay –> Sci Phi Journal

Featured art by BeningK.

Crazy times over here.  I’m preparing to move and then to go back to school … again.

But other things are still happening.  I’m spending this afternoon (it’s actually my morning because I’m working nights now) finalizing and submitting an essay to Sci Phi Journal: The Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy, a site I recommend you check out if you haven’t heard of it.  It publishes new fiction, some reprints, and philosophical essays using sf as a jumping-off point.

But it suffers a lack of magical girls. I’m sending in an article entitled “Justice Tempered with Cuteness: Moral Development and Retributive Justice in Craig McCracken’s Powerpuff Girls.” If that doesn’t get accepted there, I’ll post it here instead.

If it does get accepted there, I’ll start another essay on metaphysical concepts in Shugo Chara!, which I’ve been meaning to write for a while but haven’t gotten to yet.

I’m also working on the next part of Jake and the Dynamo, of course. And I’m making my way through a second viewing of Revolutionary Girl Utena, which I am proud to own in the limited edition remastered box set, and about which I’ll write when I’m finished.

I also recently read Herman Hesse’s Jungian/Nietzschean/Gnostic novel Demian, which inspired Utena, in the hope I would therein find the master key to understanding this most esoteric of magical girl anime. Reading a classic of German literature in order to understand a Japanese cartoon sounds backwards, but hey, whatever gets them reading, right? This is only the second Hesse novel I’ve read, and I’m now wishing I had greater knowledge of his corpus.

Also, as a heads-up to anyone who cares, a boxed set of the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga, which differs significantly from the anime as the two were made at the same time by different people, is set to release on February 7 of next year. I know I’ll be getting one. I just can’t get enough sexual-neurosis-induced-crisis-reaching-catharsis-through-swordfighting.