What I Watched This Week – 7/11-7/17

Title image for Sailor Moon. Five high school girls colorful sailor uniforms in front of a white background an silhouette of a mask- and tuxedo-wearing man.

Sailor Moon Ep.25-46 – I watched this because I felt like I should be familiar with something that has had the influence this series had on anime, but my main takeaway is that this is not a show to be watched for the first time when you’re in your 40s. I can see the appeal of Usagi, who reminded me a little bit of Naruto, as a fantasy about having some sort of hidden greatness or secret destiny despite being an abject failure at school, being chronically late for everything, and having the social graces of a drunk toddler. Watching this as an adult in 2021, however, the appeal of seeing mediocrity rewarded with power is limited. I will admit I enjoyed it a little more towards the end when all the girls were gathered, diluting Usagi’s presence somewhat, and there was more of a plot connecting the episodes beyond defeating the monster of the week. 6/10

Title image for Project A-Ko. A red-headed girl in a school sailor uniform charges ahead, dragging a similarly dressed smaller blond girl in the air, while a third girl looms in the background in a robot battle suit.

Project A-Ko – RetroCrush has been promoting this OVA movie quite a bit on Twitter, so I got curious and decided to check it out. There isn’t a whole lot of plot here, as the conflict between A-Ko and B-Ko as they fight for C-Ko’s affections is basically just a pretense to throw out increasingly absurd action sequences. The situations created by B-Ko waiting at the school gate with her ever-growing arsenal of robots and killing machines are the stuff of memes and gifs as A-Ko fights them off with her bare hands, the two of them destroying the city in the process. The action was a lot of fun and animated really well, but the story was too underdone to quite call this good. 6/10

Title image for Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather. Two Yakuza in front of a night club. One lights the other's cigarette.

Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather – Someone on Reddit once divided Boys Love into “sex BL” and “romance BL”, and this movie was absolutely a sex BL. As someone who usually skims sex scenes in books and manga, and doesn’t particularly care for mafia or yakuza stories, a movie about a yakuza underboss who uses sex as a coping mechanism getting tangled up with his impotent subordinate is not my usual fare. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at how well-written the characters were and how engaging the drama was. Yashiro resembled Revy in some ways, particularly in how he seemed both attracted to and repulsed by Doumeki’s proximity to normality and respectability. Trigger warnings are in order for multiple instances of childhood sexual assault shown in flashbacks as part of several characters’ backstories. 8/10

What I Watched This Week – 7/4-7/10

Title image for Sailor Moon. Five high school girls colorful sailor uniforms in front of a white background an silhouette of a mask- and tuxedo-wearing man.

Sailor Moon Ep.1-24 – This was on American TV when I was in high school, I think, and I honestly didn’t care for it at all then. Figuring it was just the edited and dubbed version that I didn’t like, I put on the Japanese version, and it turns out I don’t really like this version either. It’s one of the most popular and influential titles out there, so it must just be me, but Usagi’s voice cuts through my head like a knife, the way she starts fights then immediately starts crying when things fight back drives me insane, and I hate how she needs to be rescued by some guy half the time. I’m going to finish this because it is sort of foundational, but I’m not really enjoying it. 5/10

Title image for Super Cub. Three high school girls with motorbikes talk outside.

Super Cub – Although it felt a bit like a 12-episode Honda ad sometimes, this was mainly a relaxing slice of life story about girls at that exciting time in high school when you get your own wheels and can explore the world outside your neighborhood at your leisure. With a soothing soundtrack and a lot of visual storytelling, it was cute watching Koguma and Reiko geek out over their respective motorbikes and I enjoyed seeing them test the limits of what their bikes could do and where they could take them. If you’re looking for a chill story about making friends and expanding horizons, this should deliver.7/10

Title image for Mobile Police Patlabor 2: The Movie. A woman police officer in an orange vest poses in front of a giant mecha with its back towards the viewer.

Mobile Police Patlabor 2: The Movie – Unlike the rest of the series, this movie was less of an action/comedy and more of a philosophical thriller. In addition to the different genre and mood, it focused on different characters as well, centering on the superior officers Shinobu and Goto instead of the team of mecha pilots and support officers. Patlabor has always been a good-looking series, and this particular entry turned it up a notch with wonderfully fluid 2D animation rendering a city full of complicated machines and vehicles as a living, breathing entity. It wasn’t what I expected, with a lot more dialogue than action, but I really enjoyed it. 7/10

What I Watched This Week – 6/27-7/3

Title image for Patlabor The Movie. A female police office stands looking up in profile holding a helmet against a white background.

Patlabor: The Movie – I wasn’t sure if this movie was a sequel to the OVA or the TV series, but it turns out it doesn’t really matter too much either way, as I think this stands pretty much on its own. It has a self-contained plot that begins and wraps up within the runtime of the movie, and doesn’t require much familiarity with the characters or previous events to follow the action. As such, I really enjoyed the story it told with all of the franchise’s signature mix of action and comedy blended with a bit of mystery and political wrangling. 7/10

Title image for Vivy: Fluorite Eye's Song. Blue-haired AI woman reclining with a robotic teddy bear in the foreground.

Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song – This series got all sorts of praise and hype during the spring season, but it was airing on Saturdays, and I was already watching seven shows that day. Adding another just sounded exhausting so I decided to hold it aside and marathon it after it finished. I thought it was a solid sci-fi thriller that explored the nature of AI, bent the rules of time, and sprinkled exciting and well-choreographed action sequences throughout. I really enjoyed the banter between Vivy and AI Matsumoto, and I thought the world was well-thought-out and interesting, but it did have a bad case of lousy sci-fi wheelchair, which is a pet peeve of mine. 8/10

Title image for Fairy Ranmaru. Five colorful handsome men in revealing fairy outfits pose muscularly.

Fairy Ranmaru – If I’m not mistaken, this was put out by some of the same people who did Cute High Earth Defense Club, which I really enjoyed, so I decided to take a chance on it despite its super-low rating on MAL. It follows a similar pattern as Cute High where each episode features a new girl or woman with some sort of problem that’s causing them emotional distress, and one of the fairy guys transforms and defeats the metaphorical demons plaguing her. Unlike Cute High, however, there is a lot of animation recycling, with the transformation scenes being played through in full each time, then coupled with a character song that plays in full, as well as a number of other shortcuts that all sort of brought the production values down a notch. Still, if you like silly magical girl style shows and/or enjoy watching hot guys in various stages of undress who actually kiss each other, consider picking this up. 6/10

Title image for Koikimo. A high school girl holding a yellow umbrella looks over her shoulder at a salary man in a business suit. Supporting characters flank them.

Koikimo – This was yet another spring show I just ran out of space to watch weekly. Despite this being spoken of as the creepier of the two shows this season involving a salaryman and a high school girl, I found this the more enjoyable of the two. Ryo is undoubtedly a creep, and Ichika tells him he is, but because the show is honest about being a age-gap romance and isn’t trying to pretend it’s not presenting an improper relationship, it’s easier to just go along with the fantasy. I did genuinely feel bad for both of the love rivals, especially the boy in her class who seemed like an absolute sweetheart. By the end, however, Ryo and Ichika had grown quite a bit as characters, and the story put enough work into establishing their friendship and romance that I couldn’t help but root for their happiness. 7/10

Title image for Canaan. An assortment of women look sternly at the camera from a low angle.

Canaan Ep.1-5 – Being a giant fan of over-the-top pulpy violence and tough girls in tank tops and sports bras, I expected to enjoy this show about a mysterious young woman working as an assassin. However, I quickly started to get incredibly annoyed with the decisions everyone made and the things they were saying. After noticing Mari Okada in the credits for the script, I realized what the problem was, as pretty much nothing she’s involved in works for me. I’m not sure if I’m going to finish this. 5/10

What I Watched This Week – 6/20-6/26

Title image for Armored Trooper VOTOMS Brilliantly Shining Heresy. Blue-haired soldier in brown tank top and cloak.

Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Brilliantly Shining Heresy – None of the sequel OVAs have been as good or entertaining as the original series, and this five-episode series might be the worst one so far. It punched some weird holes in the worldbuilding, the visuals looked really low budget, and it wrote off a character in a unsatisfying way that left me with a lot of questions for where the series even goes from here. I still enjoyed the gritty action and Chirico being Chirico, but it just felt like it made a mess of the story. 5/10

Title image for The Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Three space sailors look into the camera against a backdrop of Earth from space.

The Irresponsible Captain Tylor – After working my way through the 80s I’m now moving on to making sure I’ve seen at least one anime from each year of the 90s. Released in 1993, this space-set action/comedy fit the bill nicely. I had a lot of fun watching a spaceship full of misfits, ex-cons, and reform-minded career officers try to make sense of a captain who might be a tactical genius or might just be the luckiest idiot in the galaxy. The humor thankfully did not often wander into the panty-shots and juvenile sex jokes, but stuck to the just plain silly or patently absurd. 7/10

Title image for Godzilla: Singular Point. Scientists and engineers against a backdrop of Godzilla.

Godzilla: Singular Point – I had intended to watch this weekly this season until Netflix locked it up, but thankfully they released it pretty quickly after it aired. I’m honestly surprised by how low its rating is on MAL, because I thought it was a near-perfect blend of 3D and 2D animation with good-looking art, vibrant colors, and solid action scenes. I thought it did interesting things with the story, splitting it between the two main characters who moved the action forward simultaneously but independently, connected only by text messages. My only complaint would be that the science babble got a bit much after thirteen episodes. 7/10

What I Watched This Week – 6/13-6/19

Title image for Patlabor: The Mobile Police (OVA). A woman in a Japanese police uniform with orange vest stands in front of a giant white mecha.

Patlabor: The Mobile Police (OVA) – I watched the TV series version of this a little while ago, but I couldn’t tell if the Patlabor movies were a sequel to that series or these OVA episodes, so I decided to watch this just to be thorough. It was pretty much the same mix of action and comedy that I enjoyed in the TV version, with maybe a little more purpose to the plot, as some of the characters have slightly more interesting backgrounds in this version tying them up with politics and terrorists. 7/10

Title image for Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East. Several handsome young men stand in a grassy field with a crow perched on the foremost's shoulder.

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East – I really don’t remember putting this on my watch list, and didn’t know anything about it when I decided to hit play, but I ended up enjoying this fantasy-set action adventure about eight young men who get tied up with supernatural forces after a brush with death. I liked how the setting was sort of an alternate universe Japan with the mythical beasts of Japanese folklore and a powerful western-style church organization pulling the strings, although I couldn’t quite make out when this was supposed to be set, as the costumes seemed like a mix of Meiji era uniforms and kimonos and modern-style t-shirts and jackets. The show itself does not have any romance or BL elements, but finding out afterwards that it ran in a yaoi magazine and was written by the person who did Super Lovers really explained a lot. 7/10

Title image for As Miss Beelzebub Likes. Various demons in soft focus and pastel colors.

As Miss Beelzebub Likes – While I didn’t dislike this pastel-colored rom-com about various demons working as civil servants in the underworld, it never quite got over the line into like, either. The whole show hangs the comedy on the novelty of demons being cute, liking cute things, and having crushes they’re too clueless to act on, and there’s only so much you can do with that before the lack of progression starts to feel frustrating. If you like cutesy anime girls with giant breasts, you might enjoy it more than I did. 6/10