Monday, October 20, 2014

Gurren Lagann 9: Serious business

Gurren Lagann episode 9 review

Suddenly, with the death of Kamina, this series has taken a serious turn. At the same time of it having a serious tone, as an Evangelion fan, you can tell that Gurren Lagann is parodying Evangelion the whole way along, thus making it not all that serious. Seemoan has turned into full-blown Shinji, while Yoko has turned into angry Asuka, and then you've got the knockoffs of SEELE.

Of course, the star of the episode is Princess Nia. She arrives on the scene and instantly becomes attached to Seemoan. The real question is not what purpose she serves or who she actually is. No, the real question is: will she be Seemoan's Rei Ayanami?

Character of the episode: Nia
Whose voice is utterly adorable.

Episode rating (out of four stars): **½

Sunday, October 19, 2014

AoT 23: Annie Get Your Gun

Attack on Titan episode 23 review

Half this episode is spent on some guy whose name I don't know who's all upset about the government being corrupt. He thinks he's going to fix it. Funny, that's what everyone running for office in 2 weeks thinks too.

So then Eren, Mikasa and Armin team up to take down Annie, because somehow they've figured out that she's the female Titan. I guess they took the cue from the fact that the female Titan looked exactly like her. But this involves a lot of desperate screaming from Eren and Armin, and finally some determination from Mikasa, who spills the beans on their plan.

Does Annie bite her thumb? She does bit her thumb. Does she bite her thumb at us? No, but she does bite her thumb. And our final confrontation of the season is set up.

Overall, a very confusing episode, made even more confusing by the fact that I was switching back and forth with a college football game (Notre Dame-Florida State). Ordinarily I don't do this, but it was a very close game and an important one as well. Given the way Marco's Pizza was handled, I doubt I would have understood manners much better had I watched every second of the episode.

Character of the episode: Annie
She does look exactly like Ino.

Episode rating (out of four stars): *

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Attack on Titan 23 Liveblog

Live Blog Attack on Titan 23 Liveblog
 Also, Bleach. And maybe Gurren Lagann, if I'm still awake.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gurren Lagann 8: Kissed & Killed

Gurren Lagann episode 8 review

Well, that escalated quickly.

This episode somehow manages to jam-pack every big plot point you could think of into 25 minutes. That includes Kamina & Yoko kissing, Seemoan getting jealous over Yoko, Seemoan failing in Shinji-esque fashion thanks to the Yoko/Kamina kiss, Kamina getting his guts ripped out by his foe, an epic battle beyond all words of description, and finally Kamina... dying. (For now.)

If you think that I'm too negative about anime, consider this: out of the three episodes this week, I am giving positive reviews to two of them. No, I'm not too negative, Attack on Titan is just too sucky right now. On the other hand, Gurren Lagann just took my breath away with an episode so epic that I can't explain what I just saw.

I may be late on the Gurren Lagann train, but I've jumped aboard.

Character of the episode: Yoko
Her reactions are priceless in this episode - not in a humorous way, but in a emotional way.

Episode rating (out of four stars): ****

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bleach 363: 777, feel good

Bleach episode 363 review

My math professor in college had a theory on why we didn't like zeroes in our problems. In his adorable Chinese accent he would say: "Play lottery. Get 777, feel good! Get 000, feel... not so comfortable." And the phrase "not so comfortable" was obviously a replacement for some other word that he couldn't think of.

Anyway, 777 appeared as the "lucky" brass knuckles of Ikkaku's opponent, who did beat him up quite a bit. Even though he hit the jackpot and knocked all the blood out of Ikkaku's head, Ikkaku still managed to beat him.

Rukia was not so lucky. She ended up getting squeezed to death by a bunch of plushies. By the way, her new haircut is horrible.

So is Byakuya's. As he and his opponent stared down each other, they acted just as solemn and boring as ever.

Toshiro had the most interesting battle of all. He and Virtual Boy went back and forth. Virtual Boy even had a Power Glove that he used to attack Toshiro, but Toshiro used it to his own advantage, and eventually Toshiro seemed to come out on top (though I'm sure there will be more fun later).

Renji actually won a battle. He has skills, because he trained to beat Aizen. He can actually win. Who knew?

But of course the highlight of the episode was the screenshot above. Ichigo (literally) kicked Uryu's butt. What else could you want from an episode?

Character of the episode: Toshiro
Gotta hand it to him. He battled magnificently, and Bleach has had a brief return to glory. It's at least getting up to about Bount arc quality, which is good enough for me at this point.

Episode rating (out of four stars): **½

Monday, October 13, 2014

AoT 22: Leviticus

Attack on Titan episode 22 review

Eren Jaeger was once the protagonist of this series, but those days are long gone. Captain Levi is now the main character, clearly evidenced by this episode. Jaeger merely serves as narrator and plot-driver. All the action in this episode revolves around Levi.

I keep on feeling as if there's some sort of "spin" being put around Levi to try to make him look great. You know, the Bill O'Reilly "No-Spin Zone"? Actually I've never watched Bill O'Reilly, but the idea is the same: when you're telling the story of a political figure or event, your designated media outlet of choice "spins" it in favor of their party. For example, FOX News would "spin" everything against the current president, while CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and even ESPN would "spin" everything in favor of the current president. Heck, even Facebook and Twitter are into the spin game now.

Anyway, if you want to think about it in that sense, Levi is the political figure of choice, and the series is trying to spin it in favor of Levi at all costs. Observe the situation where the horse-drawn carriage is slowing down, and the only thing they can do to speed it up and save themselves is to throw all the dead bodies off the carriage. All the losers are shown as wanting to keep the bodies. But Levi saves the day by telling everyone to throw off the bodies, even making an impassioned speech to try to convince the audience of the same ("they're no better than anybody else"). It didn't quite work with me, but maybe that's because I'm a Republican.

So then Levi saves a little patch off one of the soldiers' bodies who he unceremoniously dumped at the Titans' feet. The pal of that dead soldier sees that Levi saved that tiny piece of fabric and goes hysterical. Not hysterical at his pal's death, but hysterical at how thoughtful Levi was to rescue the logo that the dead guy wore and to actually give it for him. Who knows, Levi may actually let him keep it, though I'm betting on Levi taking it back if the soldier doesn't get behind him enough in an upcoming mission.

Levi also gets his action scene, where he is shown to have super-speed and be ultra-agile. Good for him. He's the best-ever. If he wasn't such a jerk - and I'm sure someone who likes to curse would come up with a more severe word to use here - he might be worth liking, but he's not. He's just a jerk. Nothing less, nothing more.

In other news, Mikasa is utterly useless once again until Armin gets caught in a Titan's hand. Then she suddenly gains superpowers and is able to save Armin. She doesn't lift a finger for any of the other people getting killed by the Titans, of course. But she saves Armin, and that's all that matters.

If Attack on Titan was a parody of bad anime, it would be pretty funny. But the fact that no, this is supposed to be serious - well, the writers are completely failing. Look, this stuff can be done right. A jerk of a character can be shown to have a pure heart, like Kamiki in Blue Exorcist. A person with a crush on someone can be shown to not be an utter stalker, like Shiemi in Blue Exorcist. And I'm just using Blue Exorcist since it's fresh in my mind.

Character of the episode: Armin
Is he really a girl?

Episode rating (out of four stars): *

2014, Week 6: Fake Spike

2014, Week 6: Packers 27, Dolphins 24

The fake spike. One of the most effective plays in Madden for years, and one that worked out brilliantly at the end of this one.

The Packers had mis-managed the clock all day long, and were running out of time on their final drive when Aaron Rodgers came up to the line, supposedly to spike it. But he ran a fake spike, the Dolphins were fooled, and he completed a pass to Davante Adams for a 12-yard gain to the Dolphins' 6 (Adams smartly got out of bounds).

6 seconds remained. Time for one play, maybe two if you're lucky. Rodgers seemed to give a signal over to the receiver on the far right, tight end Andrew Quarless out of Penn State. Then he immediately threw the pass to Quarless, who caught it for the touchdown and the remarkable win.

What an exhilarating finish. Such a fun, exciting game to watch, a game that came right down to the wire. And to top it all off, it ended with a legendary finish for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who now have won three in a row.

+'s & -'s:

+'s: Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, T.J. Lang (for recovering a Rodgers fumble on the final drive and saving the game)

-'s: Clock mismanagement.

2014 Green Bay Packers: 4-2
Next week: vs. Carolina