AniNaNo 2012, Day 1: My Title Can’t Possibly Be This Bad!

Ah, it has started, NaNoWriMo 2012. We’re on the first day of November, and the adrenaline of those first few days have unsurprisingly started kicking in. By joining NaNoWriMo, you’ve convinced yourself that writing every day was a challenge that’s worth taking and bragging about. As such, you’ve taken on this journey of fifty thousand words (which begins with an innocent 1,667 on the first day), and if you’ve literally started from scratch like I have this year (that is, no prior planning, nothing), it starts with a title and first sentence.

Don’t think too hard about this step. It’s not that important in the context of the entire body of work. In fact, make it as awkward as you can. Let yourself go. Let go of that nagging part of your brain that tells you that your writing needs to be fixed in certain (if not all) parts of your story. The tool that you’ve used to critically break down fiction and anime in particular, is now a weapon that will hold you hostage from finishing the story that you want to tell. That voice in the back of your mind can help you later, but for now, you need to keep it locked up somewhere, keep it distracted. Do it by taking a tongue and cheek approach to the very beginning of your novel, knowing very well that you’ll fix it later. Reach into your bag of rejected light novel titles and use one of them. Take a page from one Chuunibyou’s titular localization attempts:

Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

That just sounds attrocious. It’s perfect. 11 words down, 1,656 to go for today’s quota. Let’s do it! FIGHT-OH

Make Saimoe 2012 More Interesting With a Fantasy Saimoe League!

Earlier this year, I posted a series of posts relating International Saimoe to March Madness, a national college basketball tournament. I replaced teams in the bracket with moe characters and predicted the outcome of the tournament by comparing the relative level of moe of each girl representing the teams in the tournament. It was pretty well-received by the intersecting sports/anime fandom, to the point where I wanted to revisit this style of character analysis.

Alas, Japan’s own Saimoe is in the midst of its own March Madness-style single elimination tournament of moe characters, and has wrapped up its first round of eliminations. A whopping 97 characters still remain in the tournament and there’s still plenty of time to make predictions as to which character will win their group and make it to the quarterfinals. There are so many girls in this competition that picking a winner out of the entire field is pretty difficult, probably moreso than picking a basketball team from a field of only 64.

Continue reading Make Saimoe 2012 More Interesting With a Fantasy Saimoe League!

Smile PreCure! Episode 15: Mama and Me

Miyuki and her mom share a nice little moment at the end of the Mother’s Day episode.

This week’s episode of Smile PreCure was a damn fine piece of work. It made use of its air date to create a topical episode surrounding Mother’s Day, much like it previously did with its April Fool’s Day episode, as well as Heartcatch PreCure’s Mother’s Day episode back in 2010. Not only was the warm relationship between Miyuki and her mother in show, but Toei’s great fight choreography as well.

Synopsis

Miyuki notices the other girls making presents for their mothers and realizes that she forgot that today is Mother’s Day. She discovers that she has no money to buy a present, so she tries to help her mother with chores around the house, but fails at most of her tasks. Later, she tries to make a necklace back at the secret base, but the end product turns out to be too plain, by her own standards. She visits a card store with the girls, only to run into Wolfrun, who casts Bad End on customers at a flower shop. He turns a carnation into a red-nosed akanbe, and the girls transform and fight it. Cure Happy saves Candy from an attack, but drops her mother’s present. Wolfrun takes Happy’s necklace and berates her for doing a crappy job in creating it. Cures Sunny and March come to her defence, engaging in combat with Wolfrun. Sunny knocks the necklace away, and Candy retrieves it. The rest of the PreCure go on the offensive after Happy comes to a realization about her feelings regarding her mother and Mother’s day. She uses Happy Shower to vanquish the Akanbe. After the battle, Miyuki gives the present to her mom, and they walk home together happily.

This week introduced us to Miyuki’s mom, who, like most other PreCure parents, are noticeably present in the girls’ lives as they grow and mature as PreCure. Let’s take a look at 4 other notable moms in the PreCure franchise.

Continue reading Smile PreCure! Episode 15: Mama and Me

Smile PreCure! Episode 14: Divide and Conquer!

The PreCure settle into a nice serving of Takoyaki, and have settled into a groove in their own show.

After 14 episodes, we’re well past the first quarter of Smile PreCure’s televised run, and settled into what to expect from the show. With a wave of introductory character episodes, a cycle of spotlight episodes, and a recently wrapped-up vacation arc, we’ve come to know quite a bit about what this show can and cannot do. At times, it lacks punch, quite literally, in the action scenes, but the cast has a lot of personality and is well-balanced, as seen in this week’s foray intoOsaka.

Synopsis

The girls arrive atOsakafor the final half of their class trip. They begin their day with a self-guided tour ofOsakaCastle, but the group is separated during the visit. Nao, Akane, and Reika continue onwards while Yayoi and Miyuki are left behind. Yayoi and Miyuki try to continue on with the tour plans and hope to catch up at Tennouji Zoo, but are constantly sidetracked by their interactions with a number of local Osakan women who give them candy.  While the two girls visitTsuutenkakuTowerin order to get a beter view of the city, the other three continue their exhaustive search and are stricken by hunger. Majorina appears inOsaka, looking for candy, and when she is unable to obtain the local delicacy, she casts Bad End on the city and transforms Tsuutenkaku into a blue-nosed Akanbe, trapping Miyuki and Yayoi inside. All five girls transform separately, and Cures Sunny, March, and Beauty break out Cures Happy and Peace after using the Butterfly décor, granting them the ability to fly. They disorient the Akanbe and force it to spit out the two trapped Cures. Finally together, they vanquish it with Rainbow Healing.

As mentioned above, we are already a quarter of the way through Smile PreCure, so let’s take a look at each of the girls and their contribution to this episode as well as how they’ve progressed throughout the series so far.

Continue reading Smile PreCure! Episode 14: Divide and Conquer!

Smile PreCure! Episode 13: TERRIBLE LUCK

This week was bad luck for Miyuki, but we are the ones who were blessed with good luck and a great episode.

This week’s episode of Smile PreCure brings us to the ancient capital of Kyoto, where the girls are on an adventurous field trip. This type of episode is hardly new, as other PreCure shows have field trip episodes  of their own, including Max Heart (Kyoto, in episode 34), Fresh (Okinawa, in episode 39) and Heartcatch PreCure (France, in the movie). Smile brings a special spin to their version of the field trip, which is executed with resounding success. Healing Prayer has actually grown on me a bit since its somewhat anticlimactic introducion, but that’s the least of my praises for this week’s episode.

Synopsis

Miyuki and her friends arrive at Kyoto for a class field trip, but after accidentally falling into a koi pond, Miyuki suspects that she might have bad luck. Her fears are realized when she picks out a fortune that indicates that she will have terrible luck. She is befallen with misfortune throughout the first day of the trip, but after curfew, she connects with the others and is reassured that things will brighen up. Unfortunately, Miyuki’s luck gets even worse the next day, which is topped off by the appearance of Aka Oni, who comes to Kyoto after reading about the storied connection between demons and the ancient capital. He casts bad end on the PreCure’s classmates and summons a blue Akanbe in the form of Miyuki’s fortune reading. Its attacks are thwarted by the other PreCure, but end up indirectly hitting Cure Happy anyway. Cure Happy becomes fed up with her bad luck after dropping her smile pact into a nearby river. She jumps in to protect her friends, and the PreCure’s desire to support Cure Happy activates her missing pact. They ward off the Akanbe’s finishing blow and vanquish it with Rainbow Healing. After the battle, Miyuki comes to terms with her bad luck, and the girls are rewarded by having their picture taken with a pair of maiko.

Here are my thoughts on this simply fantastic episode!

Continue reading Smile PreCure! Episode 13: TERRIBLE LUCK

Smile PreCure! Episode 12: Double Rainbow (Healing)!

Reika and Candy have a heart-to-heart talk, probably about sharing screentime.

This week’s episode saw the introduction of a new Akanbe, a new PreCure finishing move, and a little bit of spotlight shared between Reika and Candy. It was also the first episode in this year’s continuity that chronologically leads directly into the next episode. All that aside, however, I found this week’s installment of Smile PreCure quite disappointing in several regards. It’s mostly due to the absence of the antics that fans are used to seeing, which makes me wonder if this show is capable of being serious when it wants to be, and not come off as overly corny. It’ll have to try a few times throughout the show’s run to get it right.

Synopsis

The girls begin to make preparations to go on a class field trip toKyotoandOsaka. Candy is excited to join, but is told to stay home, much to her disappointment. She confides in her Pop in a conversation via the Cure Décor. When the girls continue to prepare for the class trip, Candy accidentally spills coffee on the guidebooks that they were assembling, further increasing tension between her and the other girls. She runs away and is sought after by Reika, who has a heart-to-heart talk with her. Afterward, Candy separates from the group, but is captured by Wolfrun who traps her inside a cage. Wolfrun appears in front of the girls, casts Bad End on nearby townsfolk, and summons a new blue-nosed Akanbe that is invulnerable to the girls’ finishing moves on it. They get trapped by the Akanbe’s bubble attacks, and Reika is forced to fight for her survival. Candy escapes her cage and meets with the cornered PreCure, who defend her from Wolfrun’s verbal attack. Candy’s feelings bring out a new power that allows the PreCure to escape from their bubble traps and use a new finishing move called Rainbow Healing to defeat the blue Akanbe.

As eventful as the above synopsis may be, there are a few nitpicks that I want to discuss.

Continue reading Smile PreCure! Episode 12: Double Rainbow (Healing)!

Smile PreCure! Episode 11: Nao or Never!

That spider is pretty huge. I really don't blame Nao for freaking out.

At 12:11am on Monday, this is easily the latest I’ve ever started on writing for a Smile PreCure post. However, don’t let the tardiness of this post be an indicator of the quality of this episode. It was remarkably fun, and despite a lot of silly nonsense that would shatter most people’s suspension of disbelief, there’s enough laughs and Fuck Yeahs to not make it a big deal. Nao fans were treated to a delightful show this week.

Synopsis

Nao trips over a tiny hammer that resembles that from the fairy tale, the Inch-High Samurai. Candy plays with it, but the hammer causes the girls to become tiny. Candy runs around the school looking for the girls, and they follow her to try to get her attention. The girls face several gigantic obstacles that obstruct them from catching up with Candy. The girls also discover Nao’s fear of insects, which are found everywhere. Nao is overcome with fear and faints. When she comes to, she notices the community of insects and bugs around her. Majorina appears, who has been looking for her hammer that makes things small. She discovers the girls in the grass, casts Bad End on the bugs, and summons a flower-shaped Akanbe. After transforming, the PreCure get roughed up by the Akanbe, but March defends the bugs and leads a counterattack against the Akanbe, finishing it off with March Shoot.

It’s late night right now, but not too late to post! Five quick thoughts on episode 11!

Continue reading Smile PreCure! Episode 11: Nao or Never!

Smile PreCure! Episode 10: You Go, Grill!

Okonomiyaki tastes sooo gooooood!

I apologize for the delay in this post, as well as what I suspect will be the shoddy quality of the post itself. I’ve been sick for the latter half of the week, which, combined with the onslaught of some very enjoyable Spring season anime, have made me put off the writing of this post. However, do not let that be an indicator of my impression of this week’s Smile PreCure; it was pretty damn great, and Akane had a lot to do with it.

Synopsis

Akane takes over her dad’s Okonomiyaki shop after he injures his back. She invites the other girls over to sample her cooking, and while they are enamoured by her cooking abilities, Akane’s brother, Genki, points out that her Okonomiyaki is not the same as her dad’s. Akane vows to try to find the secret to her dad’s cooking so that she can make a good impression on the neighbourhood association when they visit during an upcoming weekend. With the help of the other girls, she experiments with different recipes. When the Hino family sets up shop outdoors during a neighbourhood event, Wolfrun attacks and casts the Bad End aura. He summons an Akanbe that snares most of the PreCure with glue-like projectiles. Wolfrun puts down Akane’s cooking efforts by saying that food is meaningless. Cure Happy retorts that Akane put her feelings into her cooking, which makes Akane realize the secret to her father’s cooking. She breaks out of her trap with Cure Beauty’s Beauty Blizzard. She lays a beatdown on the Akanbe and destroys it with Sunny Fire. Akane uses her new cooking knowledge to cook a wonderful Okonomiyaki feast for her neighbourhood association.

Because of the timing of this post this week, I’ll only have a few brief thoughts on the subject.

Continue reading Smile PreCure! Episode 10: You Go, Grill!

Taking the Critique-al Approach to Reviewing Anime

As a writer, I’ve been through the process of receiving feedback from other individuals who read my works in progress. Likewise, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with giving feedback to other writers as well, particularly those who I know fairly well (or at least, as well as one could know on the Internet). Reviewing other people’s works requires a particular brand of constructive criticism. For works in progress, the whole point of editing and critiquing is to provide input for the purpose of making a work better than it currently is. Explaining to a writer what works and what requires more work is a fickle process; if the feedback is too overwhelming in pointing out faults, then it might be detrimental to a writer’s motivation going forward, but if the feedback is too positive, it doesn’t give the writer much to work and improve upon.

Continue reading Taking the Critique-al Approach to Reviewing Anime

March Moe Madness, Part IV: The Champion!

Art by AJTheFourth

On Monday, April 4, the winner of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball championship was decided, and it was a victory by the number 1 seed Kentucky Wildcats over the number 2 seed Kansas Jayhawks. It was a wonderful game to watch, filled with as much as excitement as one could have, considering the eventual champion’s sizeable lead throughout the game.

But, for the sake of this series of posts, the real winner here is Tachibana Kanade from Angel Beats. The show itself is a monster powerhouse in International Saimoe, with a very rabid fanbase ready to vote for any and all of its female entrants in the tourney. It makes sense, then, that Tenshi won it all, despite some ferocious competition from her finals opponent, Victorique du Blois from Gosick. Some remarkable come-from-behind victories over Charlotte Dunois (Infinite Stratos), Eucliwood Hellscythe (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?), and even one of my Cinderella picks, Shinomiya Shiori (The World God Only Knows) had Victorique come from nowhere to challenge the titan Tachibana, but in the end, it was the overwhelming favourite who won the entire thing.

Continue reading March Moe Madness, Part IV: The Champion!